Don’t care what stations carry Mountaineer football

Last updated: August 20. 2013 9:15AM - 1943 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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For months, I have been telling readers that Morgantown millionaire John Raese would prefer losing money to being forced to play on a level radio playing field.

That fact has apparently been proven as we race toward opening day in college football for the West Virginia University Mountaineers.

Those familiar with the situation know that Raese’s West Virginia Radio Corporation has had a sweetheart deal with WVU for decades that guaranteed all kinds of money to the broadcast network and virtually nothing to the school. That seems to be the only kind of deal Raese likes.

When WVU officials decided to bid out the broadcast rights for WVU sports, Raese immediately ran crying to his rock quarry in Morgantown. There was no way the perennial Republican loser was going to accept fair competition. Likely, he realized there was also no way his network would win in a bidding war with anyone.

One would think that a fiscally-conservative Republican like Raese would be eager for any state agency to work out the deal most beneficial to state taxpayers. Ordinarily, he would. But, like The Charleston Gazette, which never saw a labor union it didn’t like except its own, Raese is in favor of competitive bidding – except when he is the beneficiary if there is none.

So, Raese whined and cried for weeks that turned into months over the whole process. He, through his family-owned newspaper, The (Morgantown) Dominion-Post, has sought to demonize WVU Board of Governors Head Drew Payne and others. Raese has accused Payne of about any crime known to man, although there is little reason to think Payne is as guilty of working under the table as Raese and his network.

After seeking proposals, WVU initially decided to award its broadcasting contract to IMG, a well-known college broadcasting network out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Raese, not surprisingly, cried foul. He heaped criticism on the WVU BOG and demanded an investigation by anyone in state government. New Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey accommodated him.

After a thorough investigation of the matter, Morrisey concluded that WVU had made some mistakes in the process. While nothing Morrisey saw rose to the criminal level that Raese apparently believes happened, Morrisey recommended that WVU go through the procedure again.

This time, West Virginia Radio Corporation, Raese’s network, did not even bother to submit a bid. Meanwhile, he filed suit in Monongalia Circuit Court against WVU and IMG. That case is pending.

In the second go-around, only one competitor bid against IMG and their bid was not at all comparable to IMG’s offer. So, again, WVU awarded its contract to IMG. Raese and his minions claim that when the court rules, IMG will be back out of the saddle. We’ll see.

In any event, many West Virginia Radio-owned stations have broadcast WVU football for decades. Those who do not know what a crybaby Raese really is continued to think his stations would try to work out deals with IMG to continue the broadcasts. Not so, according to industry sources.

Despite some overtures and preliminary discussions from IMG, the Raese-owned stations have universally refused to rejoin the network. Thus, the Morgantown Flash is willing to lose tons of money to prove his point. WVU football, whether I ever listen to it or not (which I don’t unless I’m sure they are losing), is a money-maker on Saturday afternoons in the fall. Listenership is normally low during this timeframe and Mountaineer sports pumps it up briefly. Listeners bring advertisers who would not ordinarily spend money on a weekend afternoon.

In Charleston, for example, folks have been tuning to WCHS-AM58 all of their lives for WVU sports. With Raese in charge, that won’t happen again soon. After failing to work out any kind of deal with the man, IMG announced recently that WMXE-FM, 100.9, “The Mix,” will broadcast the games. The St. Albans-based station is hardly a major player in the Charleston market. While its signal is fairly strong for an FM, it cannot be heard from one end of the state to the other, as 58 sometimes can.

I really don’t care what stations carry Mountaineer football; I will be turned to THE University of West Virginia, Marshall games. But surely those silly folks who have bothered to vote for Raese in the past will see what a tyrant and unreasonable human being he is. If he can’t own the marble store, he’ll just take his marbles and go home.

It is, in my opinion, unfair to WVU fans that Raese is punishing some of them by refusing to air the Mountaineer games. I will repeat, on the other hand, that it matters not to me if another WVU game is ever on the air.

Look at John Raese’s conduct in this matter and tell me he ever deserved to be in the United States Senate. For goodness sake, they would have had to build a special office building for him because he wouldn’t have roomed with the other senators.

* * * * * *

Some in Boone County have the novel idea of staring a flag football program, which is growing by leaps and bounds in other parts of the country.

The only fear potential organizers seem to have is potentially upsetting the hierarchy of the Boone/Lincoln Midget Football League.

Most know my opinion of amateur sports for young athletes. I think it is a dangerous and useless exercise. Teams are “coached” by parents who have no training in how to deal with children. The biggest goal of most of these “coaches” is to see that their own “Little Johnny” or “Little Sally” gets to play every down before he or she moves on to playing in the NFL on Sunday afternoons.

In my ideal world, there would be no youth athletic programs if there was not qualified, tested coaches to lead the teams. Nobody would think of suiting up a high school team without having a qualified coach on the field. These young, impressionable younger children deserve more than they receive from amateur sports – and the first thing they deserve is a “real” coach.

I have never been impressed with the local midget football program, just as I am not overwhelmed by most. Petty arguments among adults often dominate seasons, rather than athletic development and competition. Anyone who doesn’t believe that has never had a child in the program.

Setting aside my prejudices regarding midget football, though, I think the idea of flag football is a vast improvement over midgets. I would encourage those who have been talking about organizing such a league in Boone County to get with it. There will always be naysayers, no matter what anyone tries to accomplish. In this case, most of the negatives will come from those who fear they might lose a little bit of “power” if the midget league was not the only game in town.

In flag football, as well, there is far less chance that some innocent six-year-old, such as my grandson Jordan, will be injured for life. Those injuries sometimes cut short the dreams of state championships during the high school years. And, again, midget leagues seldom have educated, certified trainers to deal with injuries when the occur on the field.

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As I have in the past, I will also mention that nobody I know even recalls who the champion of the 1995 Boone County Midget Football League’s A game was. This is not the same “big-time” football that some coaches and a few fans make it out to be. It is supposed to be simply a learning experience for some very young athletes.

To that end, it is reprehensible that midget coaches take games so seriously that they often refuse to play every child on the team during games. Those youngsters and their parents devote as much time and energy into the game as a starter, yet some stand on the sidelines for four quarters.

Let’s try to make this clear: it doesn’t REALLY matter who wins the Boone/Lincoln Midget Football League title game. It matters whether children develop some skills and an attitude that will benefit them in later life. Learning that sitting on the bench is the only thing they can aspire to do since “daddy” is not the coach is not a good lesson to learn.

I say play every child, regardless of ability. Some “coaches” even have four-touchdown leads in the fourth quarter and keep the starters in. How ridiculous; how obscene.

No child deserves to mistreated the way some coaches do them. It’s child abuse just the same as a neglectful parent inflicts.

* * * * * *

We end the pre-season hoopla this Friday when Boone County’s three high school teams collide in a scrimmage at Scott High. Local fans need to be there to see how their young men look for the 2013 season.

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As always, give me your thoughts, story ideas and rumors. Contact me at the email address listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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