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The Suburbanite
  • Oliver Luck knows how to predict college landscape

  • Oliver Luck isn’t just Andrew’s dad. He’s the man with foresight for West Virginia athletics.

     

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  • The AD behind Oliver Luck’s business card isn’t just for athletics director. Luck, who played quarterback and graduated as a Mountaineer before earning a law degree while playing in the NFL, is a smart man.
    He knows what AD really means.
    “Andrew’s Dad,” Luck told the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club on Monday at Tozzi’s on 12th.
    More than just being the father of last year’s No. 1 NFL Draft pick, Oliver Luck is an intelligent man who may, one day, be credited with saving West Virginia’s 17 sports programs. He was, after all, influential in getting the Mountaineers into the Big 12 because he had the foresight to see West Virginia’s place in the Big East was diminishing.
    By securing a relationship with the Big 12, West Virginia will have a place at the “big boys” table that is about to start changing the landscape of college football, Luck believes.
    “We are in an arm’s race and what you’re seeing is the big picture starting to take shape,” Luck said.
    Luck aligned West Virginia with the Big 12, one of five power conferences taking shape. The others are the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and ACC. The gap, Luck said, is widening between those conferences and mid-major conferences.
    “Those five conferences essentially put together the new football format with little or no input from the NCAA,” Luck said. “I think you could see one day down the road (maybe when) those five conferences are self-governing.”
    Luck saw this all taking shape, as did many proactive athletic directors across the country, before he arrived in Morgantown.
    “I took the job in June 2010 and in about a month, one big puzzle piece moved, which was Nebraska joining the Big 10 and leaving the Big 12. Then Colorado left the Big 12,” Luck said. “It was obvious to me the top 60 or 70 universities were going to go through a fairly tumultuous time period in realigning themselves.”
    The Big East had an opportunity to get Penn State in the 1980s, and didn’t.
    “Not building a conference around Penn State was a fatal mistake,” Luck said.
    But Luck faces some problems at West Virginia. He is trying to make sure his football program keeps up in the arms race. His basketball team is coming off one of Bob Huggins’ worst seasons as a college head coach.
    Location is an issue. Luck called West Virginia the northern most southern state, the southern most northern state. Next to Florida, West Virginia has the second largest elderly population and the population of the state is only 1.8 million.
    “More or less, it’s the same 1.8 million when I was in school there,” Luck said, joking. “The demographics aren’t real healthy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - But the TV contract in the Big 12 will help. West Virginia more than tripled its TV revenue to about $30 million. However, Luck sees what the Big Ten did in adding Maryland and Rutgers and it makes perfect sense to him.
    He said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney added those two schools to make the conference’s demographics more appealing, in addition to the TV markets.
    “I took this job with one goal in mind ... to make sure we could figure out a way to be a member of a power football conference,” Luck said. “Basketball, with all its movement, has zero (conference) value. It’s all about football and the insatiable desire Americans have to watch football on television. When Fox Sports and ESPN did the most recent deal with the ACC, the Fox people told the ACC 80 percent of the value of that contract was because of football and 20 percent because of basketball. Think about that. The ACC is a great basketball conference. It’s all about football.”