MORGANTOWN - He is not expecting a telephone call asking his opinion on the topic, especially from Director of Athletics Oliver Luck, but West Virginia senior left guard Josh Jenkins would like to see Marshall University remain on the Mountaineers' schedule.
"It's Marshall and West Virginia," said the Mountain State's only two-time recipient of the Hunt Award, presented annually to the top high school lineman. "It (the Friends of Coal Bowl) is one of the biggest things to happen in the state."
WVU, ranked among the nation's Top 25 in every preseason poll, and the Thundering Herd will meet for the 12th and final time on Saturday, Sept. 1. The seven-year contract, that called for two-of-three games to be played in Morgantown with the fourth game of the series played at the site of the school which had captured the majority of those contests, is in its final year and it appears as if neither side has much interest in continuing the in-state battle.
West Virginia senior left guard Josh Jenkins, shown here during a 2011 practice, would like to see Marshall University remain on the Mountaineers’ schedule. (File Photo)
"I see us down the road playing Marshall at some point," Luck explained in an interview with The Herald-Dispatch sports reporter Grant Traylor. "When that is? Who knows? It could be five years from now. It could be 20 years from now. We have to figure out how we do our non-conference going forward."
WVU's entrance into the Big 12 places Luck and the Mountaineers in the position where they have only three slots open to schedule non-conference contests. The likelihood of an opening occurring doesn't appear in the foreseeable future as WVU's 2013 slate has it hosting William and Mary, and East Carolina and playing at Maryland. The 2014 season opens with a game against Alabama at a neutral site followed by a home meeting with Towson and road games at Maryland and ECU.
The Terps and Pirates return to Morgantown in 2015 and join Liberty as the Mountaineers' non-conference opponents with Brigham Young slated to face the old gold and blue at a neutral site to open the 2016 campaign followed by a home game with Maryland and a road game to ECU.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, as the 2017 non-conference portion of the schedule has one opening while the following season (2018) will have two slots that will need to be filled.
"At the end of the day, it's a business and I know how that goes," continued Jenkins, who missed the entire 2011 season recovering from a knee injury suffered during spring drills. "They (the ADs) will figure it out. But, I'd like to see them (WVU & Marshall) play."
Jenkins' reasons are many.
"Marshall is the first thing on our (the players') minds. The Big 12 is down the road and we will worry about it when we get to those games. Our main concentration is on Marshall and to beat Marshall.
"I always get excited to play Marshall. It's kind of a rivalry that I have within myself. I take it personally when we play them. I was recruited by Marshall and when Doc (Holliday) was at Florida, he recruited me, and then he recruited me when he was here (WVU). Now, he is at Marshall and I always get excited to play against him."
West Virginia has been installed as a three-touchdown favorite in its season opener against the Herd, but Jenkins understands that winning against the Mountain State's other NCAA D-I school won't be that easy.
"A lot of people don't see it as a rivalry," added the former Parkersburg Big Red. "A lot of players on both teams are from out of state. But, for those of us from West Virginia, it is a big game and we are excited to play in it."
WVU's 34-13 weather-shortened victory in last year's season opener gives the old gold and blue an 11-0 lead in the series.