In a speech to the Martinsburg and Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce's, Oliver Luck said a lot. The main thrust of what he had to talk about centered around the changing landscape of college athletics. He also took a couple digs along the way. I'll get to those shortly. The changing landscape is the most important, so I'll start with that.
It's not on the front burner as much now as it was a year ago, but the super conference realignment we could all see coming is still out there. Or as he put it, a split between the haves and the have-nots. One of the biggest reasons Luck was brought in as athletic director was his experience with start ups in sports. How he's going about positioning WVU for the future isn't completely accepted by all WVU fans. I know there are some out there that are not in favor of playing JMU in DC. But I doubt it's any coincidence that he would choose to speak to folks in the eastern panhandle so soon after the deal was done.
I for one fully support him in this. We live in a state that has been losing population, and losing high paying blue collar jobs over the past 30 years. With those things in mind, there's only so much you can do inside these four walls. At the same time, the rich are doing nothing but getting richer. The Big 10 and SEC television deals make the Big East deal look like chump change. If his answer is to go into Maryland and Georgetown's back yard and walk away with $2.5 million and a few new recruits, I'll back him up on that. It's certainly much better that making a charity trip to Huntington.
Luck also went on to talk about some conferences considering increasing the benefits for their scholarship athletes.
The best example, Luck said, is that the commissioners of the Big Ten and SEC athletic conferences have recommended that those conferences consider paying student athletes the "full cost of attendance," not just an athletic scholarship.
It's hard to imagine that so many of the schools in non-BCS conferences would be able to keep up with that. Let alone WVU and the Big East. The only real answer is for us to find new revenue streams. Staying where we are isn't an option, because in this world you are either getting better or getting worse.
As I mentioned, Luck did take a couple digs in his speech. The first was directed at Rutgers. I'm calling it a dig, but I don't think it's too far off the mark.
Generating revenue will be a huge challenge for all the Big East teams, Luck said, noting that Rutgers' athletic program had a $25 million deficit.
I've never had a reason to dislike Rutgers other than them being a conference rival. I don't get the feeling Luck or most Mountaineer fans do either. So I can only guess he wanted to use an example of how hard it is out there right now and the dangers of extending yourself too far without the money to back it up.
Lastly, and the reason behind the title of this post, Luck had something to say about what West Virginia needs to do to entertain the fans. In doing so, he just couldn't help but to compare the direction the team is going with the results of the last three years.
"Season tickets sales are going well. MAC (Mountaineer Athletic Club) fundraising is going well. I think folks who do follow the Mountaineer football program will be delighted to see we will have a real offense this year that can score some points,"
Points don't always translate into wins, but I'm glad he gets that they don't hurt.