Chuck Landon: Revenge of the Fallen

You may remember the last time I sat down for a heart-to-heart with the Thundering Herd's favorite fanboy. Unfortunately, Ole Chucky had to cut our time short due to a Botox appointment, but he promised me an exclusive interview once the regular season was over and his time wasn't occupied covering things like bowl practice or tracking down the latest 4- and 5-star recruits to verbally commit to Marshall.

This time around, in a candid tell-all look into the life of Huntington's most eligible beat writer, I got to touch on some of the hottest issues to grace the pages of the Herald-Dispatch since the meth lab behind the Big Sandy caught fire: the addition of a school that Marshall doesn't play (TCU) to a conference that Marshall isn't in (the Big East), the hiring of a coach who was the offensive coordinator of a team to lose to Marshall in 2008 (Dana Holgorsen, then with Houston) by a school that Marshall will only play once while that person is the head coach (WVU), and everyone's favorite topic, the comments of a high-ranking athletic department official at a school that includes the name of the state where it is located (Oliver Luck, Athletic Director, WVU) to persons who are alumni, supporters, and boosters of that school (not Marshall).

Mr. Landon's insights on these issues were, well...insightful. His comments are not pretty. Reader discretion is advised.

[photos via hailwv.com and eerationalsports.files.wordpress.com]

Country Roads: Mr. Landon, it's a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy Holliday (like Doc Holliday? get it?) schedule to give us lowly WVU fans some insight into the life and mind of a living Huntington legend.

Let's cut straight to the chase. The most important topic on everyone's mind is the WVU-Marshall football series. What are your thoughts?

By consistently spouting arrogant rhetoric laced with demeaning comments toward Marshall, Luck is hoping that the Herd universe et al along with Marshall officials will gnash their teeth, sneer with defiance and tell WVU and its football series to go straight to the opposite of "Almost Heaven."

CR: Now why would Luck want Marshall officials to tell WVU to go to Huntington? That just doesn't make any sense, Chuck. And what's with this "Herd universe"? Have Marshall supporters grown so collectively obese that they can no longer be accurately categorized as a nation?

Sorry, got a little off topic there. Okay, so you think Luck doesn't want anything to do with a WVU-Marshall series? What ever would give you that idea, oh enlightened one?

The most recent attempt came on Tuesday in a story written by Geoff Coyle for wvillustrated.com. The article was presented as a story about TCU joining the Big East Conference, but in actuality it was merely another thinly disguised attack on the series.

CR: Yes, you're right. WVU supporters could really care less about the teams we will actually be playing in the future, like TCU. How devious of wvillustrated.com to use the TCU angle as a front to undermine a series that every er, some I mean, very few dangit!, no WVU fans have any desire to see continue. Sneaky bugger, that Coyle. But how is adding TCU demeaning to Marshall, aside from the fact that Marshall has won a national championship more recently (1996, compared to TCU's most recent championship in 1938), and come closer to beating WVU (losing 24-21 in OT this past season), than TCU, (who lost to WVU 31-14 in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl)?

Then came the insult.

"Maybe every now and then we can replace a (Division) I-AA school with Marshall," Luck told the web site.

Angering, isn’t it?

Makes you want to shake your fist at Luck, doesn’t it?

Conjures up satisfying thoughts of hiring a plane to fly a banner with a few well chosen words printed on it over Morgantown, huh?

CR: You're dang right it's angering! How dare Luck even insinuate that Marshall could replace schools like Delaware and Appalachian State? If I was a Blue Hen or Little Mountaineer supporter, I'd be livid that Luck compared my alma mater to a team that hasn't won a conference championship since 2002 and whose best win ever is against a 7-5 Kansas State team. Oh, the disrespect!

You're also right about it making me want to shake my fist and hire a plane to fly a banner over Morgantown. Of course, the fist pump would be followed by a hearty "Let's Goooo Mountaineers!" and the banner would read "Eat Shit Pitt!" Come to think of it, Charles, those are pretty good ideas. Maybe you're not such a schmuck afterall!

Do you really think that's what it was all about, though? That it was really one big conspiracy to lure TCU to the Big East so WVU wuoldn't have to play Marshall?

Wait, on second thought, don't answer that....

Taking TCU was only way for Big East to keep its automatic BCS bid ... Sure sucks to coach any other BE football program now

CR: Woah now, Charles. Back that cement mixer right up. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the only way for a conference to keep its automatic bid was to meet a specific set of creteria involving the rankings of conference teams, the rank of the conference champion, and number of teams in the top 25. And the Big East appears to be doing pretty well in those categories, so don't go using your omnipotent magic power to suddenly change all that right in the middle of bowl season. That just ain't fair, man!

I suppose you're right about it sucking to coach any other BE football prgram, what with the intact automatic bid, million-and-something dollar salaries, access to East Coast markets and recruiting bases, and opportunity to play for a national championship if things break right. Life is just awful for them. I can't imagine the grief they feel when they have to offer a huge payout to teams from Conference USA for a one-and-done home game just to fill their schedule and allow the CUSA team to pay its bills. Then again, I assume the CUSA players and coaches appreciate the chance to see what big time football is like when they make those trips. See? Everyone wins!

Speaking of coaches of relevant football teams, what do you think of the hiring of Dana Holgorsen to be WVU's new head coach? Seems like everyone, including Luck, thinks he pulled off a nice little coup.

I wonder if Luck would have thought that if he had been seated in Edwards Stadium on Oct. 29, 2008? That's the night Holgorsen's high-powered Houston offense didn't show up in a 37-23 loss to Marshall that wasn't nearly as close as the score.

It was former MU coach Mark Snyder's most remarkable win in five seasons.

CR: I really doubt it, Charlie. I'm guessing if Luck was in the Joan that night he would have been preoccupied with worrying how he would call police after discovering that all four tires were missing from his car and his cell phone and wallet were stolen while walking to the parking lot after the game. Either that or he would have been too distracted worrying about the health of the Houston wide receiver whose career was jeopardized by a compound fracture of his left leg he suffered when he ran into the Marshall equipment truck that Herd staff had negligently left but a few yards ouside the endzone to even notice the 423 yards of total offense and 24 first downs that Holgorsen's offense put up in just over 22 minutes of possessing the football.

You're right about one thing, though. It's quite remarkable that Snyder's best win came against a 6-6 team from Conference USA team whose best wide receiver nearly had his leg amputated due to Marshall's incompetence. Can't you give Luck just a little bit of credit for the hire? I mean geez, what has Luck ever done to Marshall?

His comments as guest speaker for the Associated Builders and Contractors organization's "Excellence in Construction" awards dinner on Oct. 27 at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown are a prime example.

Luck obviously never stopped to consider a Marshall supporter might be attending the dinner when he reportedly labeled Marshall football as "irrelevant."

CR: Can you blame him, Chuck? The only awards dinner where I might expect to run into a Marshall alum would be one for "Excellence in the Manufacture of Methamphetamine." And that's only if Detroit is disqualified from the voting. So please excuse Luck for this small oversight that just happened to occur ON WVU'S CAMPUS.

I have to concede, though, that if Luck had known the Marshall fan was in the room, he shouldn't have said what he did. Clearly we can't expect a Marshall grad to grasp such a complicated idea as "reality."

So, obviously, Luck is smart enough to know better. Yet, he continues to offer self-serving, disparaging commentary about Marshall.

CR: Is there any other kind?

But surely, that's the only instance you can find where Luck said something negative about Marshall. Right?

It also happened on Oct. 19 when Luck was the guest speaker for a joint meeting of the Rotary Club of Bluefield and Princeton at the Quality Hotel and Conference Center in Bluefield, W.Va.

During his address, according to an article in the Bluefield Telegraph newspaper, Luck said, "We are the flagship university of the state. With all due respect to our friends in Huntington, we are the university that carries the hopes, the dreams and the images of West Virginia across the country.

The flagship university? Really? Considering WVU's football team has lost consecutive games, is tied for last in a weak Big East conference and faces sanctions for five major NCAA violations, it appears the rudder is broken.

CR: Ah, dangit. You got us. Silly me for forgetting that the flagship university is a transient characteristic, bestowed only to those institutions whose football teams win conference titles every year and never get any kind of negative publicity. Alright, let's take nominations. Marshall? Oh, you've never beaten WVU in football, you were once placed on probation for 4 years for major NCAA infractions and the words "West Virginia" appear nowhere in the name of your school? Sorry. West Virginia State and West Virginia Tech, you're officially on the clock.

Seriously, Chuck. Level with me, here. Is there something, anything, that Marshall does better than WVU?

Doc Holliday has struck again.

First, Marshall's first-year head football coach stole assistant coach JaJuan Seider from WVU.

Then, Holliday swiped wide receiver recruit Fred Pickett from the Mountaineers.

CR: I knew I should have phrased that question better. Of course the one thing Marshall does better than WVU is crime. In fact, from what I hear, Marshall's major in Criminal Activity is one of the top programs in the country. And I also understand that Huntington does an outstanding job at retaining graduates of that program to live and, uh, "work" in the city. In fact, the football program is such a great extension of that major that Pickett himself, after being stolen from WVu, turned around and robbed a Huntington pizza delivery guy. Evidently robbing pizza delivery guys is small potatoes for the Marshall football team, though, because Pickett and his co-conspirators were later kicked off the football team and out of the school for that offense. Better luck next time, Fred. What are your observations on the animosity these heists have had on the relationship between WVU and Marshall?

I wrote that West Virginia University head football coach Bill Stewart didn't shake hands with Marshall coach Doc Holliday after the Mountaineers' 24-21 overtime win on Sept. 10.

So, Stewart telephoned Wednesday to vehemently deny that.

"You know the truth," said Holliday, after learning about Stewart's assertion during the telephone call. "He didn't shake my hand.

It doesn't appear "Hand-Shake Gate" is going away anytime soon.

CR: Well, no, Mr. Landon, I suppose it isn't. Not when you keep bringing it up time and time and time and time and time ... you get the idea. I suppose the only way it would go away is if you suddenly had something more interesting to write about, like Marshall actually beating a team with a pulse. But we all know that isn't going to happen anytime soon, so you need to get a little creative finding other things to write about, right? What else might you have up those velvet sleeves of yours?


Doc Holliday reveals the three problem areas that need fixed ... Read all about it in my Sunday column.

CR: Ya know, I'd love to. I really would. But I just don't have the time to page through an eighteen-volume encyclopedia about the city of Huntington, Marshall University, and the Herald-Dispatch sports section. I've got bigger fish to fry. Like this smallmouth bass I caught back in November. Add some lemon zest and olive oil, it's delicious.

But I digress. Your journalistic skills are certainly prodigious and thankfully simply unparalleled both in West Virginia and across the country. Clearly, you were born for this. But did you ever give any thought to what you might have done had you not decided to bless the world with your writing?

Is should have been a lawyer ... Look at all the high school clients I could have had on WVa.

CR: You're certainly right about that. Anyone with more than a high school education would probably want a lawyer who uses proper grammar and spelling.

In closing, do you have any words of holiday cheer for our loyal readers out there?

@GrantTraylor you just like big breasssstttttttssssss!!!!

CR: ...

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