WVU Lucks out
No, West Virginia University has not received an invitation to join a stable BCS athletic conference. The university did, however, make a pretty good move by hiring Oliver Luck as the new director of athletics at WVU. Luck, 50, will take over for Ed Pastilong on July 1. Pastilong has held that position for 20 years.
For those who don’t know, Luck is a former Mountaineer quarterback who graduated from West Virginia in 1981. He was a Rhodes Scholar candidate and had a successful NFL career with the Houston Oilers. Luck’s name as a candidate has been circulating ever since it was announced that Pastilong would be retiring on June 30, but it was considered to be a long shot that the two parties could make it happen.
While the search and exactly who the candidates were wasn’t available for public consumption, enough information came out that it was widely believed that Luck was the number one choice for the job. It was also speculated that the interest was mutual, but there was a fly in the ointment. Luck is a mover and shaker in the Houston area having chaired the Houston Sports Authority and is the president of the Houston Dynamo, a MLS soccer franchise.
The main reason for reluctance, it has been speculated, on Luck’s part was that his 16-year-old daughter, Emily, has two more years of high school and she wanted those years to be in the Houston area. His oldest son, Andrew, is a redshirt sophomore quarterback at Stanford where his 19-year-old daughter will enroll to play volleyball this fall. There is also a son entering the seventh grade. Andrew Luck is considered one of the top professional quarterback prospects in college football.
Luck was also the commissioner of NFL Europe and acted as a general manager of one of the franchises. In his role as CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, Luck oversaw the development of over $1 billion of entertainment and sports arenas including Minute Maid Park and Reliant Stadium. Folks, to get a guy of Luck’s pedigree to run the WVU athletic department is a major accomplishment.
So, as the world of college athletics determines which way it is going, having Luck in this position will be critical to WVU moving forward. Of course there are no guarantees, but it would be hard to imagine WVU being left behind when the major conferences realign. One has to figure Luck did not take this job to be the athletic director of a Conference USA school.
As for conference realignment, that subject seems to change from minute to minute. Nebraska and Colorado have left the Big 12 conference for the Big Ten and Pac 10 respectively. Those defections were expected to shut down the Big 12 as media reports virtually assured us that Texas would take at least three other schools out of the Big 12 and move to the Pac 10. There were sources confirming that as late as Monday morning. Other sources on Monday contradicted those reports saying that the 10 remaining Big 12 teams were at the negotiating table with a new television deal that might keep them together.
If those 10 teams decide to stay together the expansion train may slow to a crawl for now. That means WVU and the Big East would likely remain the same for a couple more years. Of course the opposite could also be true. Very few, if anyone, in the know have said much about their plans. So, it is still possible that if a conference like the Southeastern Conference wants to expand they will. Popular opinion is the Pac 10 move would have set the dominoes falling. Maybe the dust settles this week.