I would imagine most outside the state of West Virginia have never heard of John Raese. For those not in the know, he's a relatively successful businessman that owns Greer Industries, the West Virginia Radio Corporation, Metro New Radio Network, and the Dominion Post. He's also lost four bids to be a US senator and one to be governor of West Virginia.
His radio stations provide the backbone for the Mountaineer Sports Network's radio broadcasts. They have for as long as I can remember. But with the grant of tier three rights by the Big 12, WVU is again looking into bidding these rights out. I say again because it was looked into before. And it is really f'ing funny to look at the numbers being talked about in that article. Funnier still that Mike Parsons is still employed by WVU. But funniest of all that Rich Rodriguez is looking better and better by the minute. He still went about leaving WVU in the worst of ways. But all the things he was begging for as far as facilities and assistant pay raises probably could have easily been paid for had we contracted out our media rights. As it is pointed out in the link above, there was clearly a lot of foot dragging and push back by Pastilong and Parsons about any changes to media rights deals. Whether they were instructed or pressured by Raese to block any new media rights deals or if they felt an obligation to do so is irrelevant.
The net result was that WVU missed out on millions of dollars that could have benefited the athletic department and university. It lost one of the innovators of college football in an ugly divorce that tagged WVU and it's fans as a jilted ex-lover by the national media. It also led to the hire of Bill Stewart as head football coach. A man that was loved and respected by all Mountaineer fans, but was probably not head coaching material. The hire of Stewart was almost universally approved by Mountaineer fans, but was hardly a popular hire in the eyes of some of the big donors to the program. It created a division amongst these donors and the school and is really just now starting to mend.
Back to Raese, though. He's either the luckiest guy in the world, or he has someone/ones in the athletic department at WVU pulling strings for him. College football has been about the money as long as I've been alive. So to leave that money on the table for as long as WVU has is either an act of stupidity or cronyism. Or both. And for Raese and WV Radio Corp. to have held on to the radio broadcast rights for as long as they did, they should count their lucky stars. Instead, Raese and company are seeking to drag WVU, Oliver Luck, and WVU president Jim Clements through the mud. All because Raese knows he has no shot at matching the money IMG can offer the university. Raese has made his business personal and he doesn't realize the collateral damage from the bombs he's lobbing is hurting his Alma Mater.
Raese's smear campaign has come in the form of a lawsuit against WVU and various members of the administration and board of governors, suggestions of misuse of travel expenses by Oliver Luck, pandering to the faculty and employees of WVU. Also, there's Mickey Furfari pounding out his own private smear campaign against Luck and Clements. Whether it is part of a combined effort with Raese is at least questionable. But when Mickey continually points to an athletic department in the red this year, he always fails to point out the reasons behind the shortfall.
Luck, who has been athletic director for three years, spent money like it was going out of style – with the approval of both Clements and the Board of Governors. The Athletic Department was $13.5 million in the red for fiscal 2012-13.
Yes, it's never good to see numbers like that, but it's like Furfari doesn't want to look around and see where the rest off college athletics is going. It completely ignores that college sports is about the haves and have-nots. And if we're going to be in it at all, we might as well go for it.
From my point of view, most fans seem to be on the side of Luck and Clements. They see Raese, Furfari, and company as the good old boy network that is upset because they no longer play as critical a role in the Mountaineer athletic program as they once did.
It's sad because I generally enjoyed the coverage of WVU sports by Raese's employees and I want to respect the life's work of Furfari as he has been informing us about WVU sports since well before I was born. I sincerely hope Furfari doesn't receive any blow back from this. But Mr. Raese is at least in line for the Derek Huff treatment. And unless he can see the good in dropping his witch hunt, it couldn't happen to a better guy.