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Although I am not a native of WV, I love this place and its people.  West Virginians are hard working, modest people who unfortunately sell themselves and their state's resources short.   What follows is a saga of selling out a football game to the Coal Companies, without a competitive bidding process.  This is the story of how the intrastate football rivalry became "The Friends of Coal Bowl." While the story probably won't make the national wire, it is an important illustration of the power of the big energy companies.  It will be a long hard road to cleaning up American politics, energy and the environment, because we sell out so cheap every time.

WV loves its football, and it has two University Football Programs that have produced some remarkable teams, coaches, individual players and an astonishing loyal fan base: West Virginia University Mountaineers and the Marshall University Thundering Herd. We live in small towns in a rural state, and football is both big time entertainment and an economic boom for these towns.

West Virginia University in Morgantown had a great run last year: number 3 in the nation, with an upset 38-35 victory in the Nokia Sugar Bowl in Atlanta against the heavily favored Georgia team with the home-field advantage.   This football game was played out against the national news coverage of the Sago Mine Disaster- Governor Joe Manchin left Georgia and missed the game to return to the state to personally manage the crisis response.  I have never been so proud of a team- they just wouldn't give up.  Last year they had some of the most amazing come-back victories and they are poised to have another great year.   WVU has had some other fantastic teams, including 1993 and 1988, but 2005 team won the big bowl game, so they were really greatest WVU team ever.

Marshall University in Huntington is perhaps best known for its football, both for an incredible tragedy and a remarkable comeback.  In 1970, bad instrument settings and a rainy November night led to a deadly plane crash into the mountains surrounding the TriState Airport.  

75 people perished in the plane crash: 37 players, 12 coaches and university staff members, 5 crew members and 21 townspeople who were big fans and flew on the chartered team plane.   This crash remains the single largest sports-related disaster in U. S. history.   Tragically, 70 minor children lost one parent, and 18 children lost both parents.  The town of Huntington and Marshall University were devastated by the loss- no one was untouched.  I recommend reading the heart wrenching article "Its Always With You" on the aftermath in the community.   It is written by Huntington native and  Marshall graduate Julia Keller, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 and is a three-hanky read.

Astonishingly, Marshall put together a football team for the 1971 season, that came to be known as "The Young Thundering Herd".   There were walk-ons, freshmen, and a few players who had missed the plane.   On the 30th anniversary of the crash, local documentary filmmakers made a film shown on lots of PBS stations called "From Ashes to Glory" which told the moving story of the come-back.  Keith Morehouse, a local sportscaster, wrote in a review of this film:

"There was talk within the community to forget about football, the memories too tough to handle, the games too tough to win. But Marshall pressed on, hiring Jack Lengyel from Wooster College in Ohio, to lead the Young Thundering Herd. The football season was a painful one in 1971 - loss after loss and the whispers followed. Could Marshall ever win another football game? That question was answered when the Young Thundering Herd---comprised of walk-ons, and freshman, and others who had no business playing college football---beat Xavier 15-13 on a last second touchdown pass. The players exalted on the field, the fans cried in the stands. Marshall football had withstood a devastating tragedy and resurrected itself."

Keith's father was a sportscaster too, and died in the plane crash.  There is a Warner Brothers film named after the school's cheer "We Are...Marshall" being made of this story. It will premier this December in Huntington.  It was filmed on campus with many local people cast as extras and lots of local scenes.  

Marshall has gone on to some remarkable victories and has climbed to NCAA Division IA after its national championship 1992 season in NCAA Division IIA where they were a powerhouse. In 1996 they had an undefeated season and one of the best NCAA IIA teams ever.  They were the football team with the most wins in the 1990s, and they have produced some great players in the NFL today: Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, and now Darius Watts.  Coach Bobby Pruett was a former Marshall player who recently retired with a remarkable 94-and-23 win-loss record.

As in all states with two football programs, there has been some interest in getting the teams together for an annual game.  Florida/Forida State; Kansas University/Kansas State: These are some great games.  

WVU has resisted for years, citing financial reasons.  WVU has a huge stadium, holding 65,000 (roughly twice the size of Morgantown).  Marshall has a smaller stadium, holding 38,000.  That's a lot fewer tickets to sell to pay for athletic programs.  Marshall has done well nationally by getting ESPN coverage. In the 2000s Marshall had some excellent Bowl games, two players nominated for the Heismann Trophy, and last year joined Conference USA.  In Huntington, Marshall fans insinuated that WVU was afraid to play Marshall, since Marshall might win.  Marshall has really turned up the gas in the basketball rivalry game, which plays in Charleston on neutral ground and beat a WVU team with a better record the last two outings.

When Governor Joe Manchin ran in 2004, word on the street was that as a WVU grad (and a huge football fan) he would favor funding for WVU over Marshall.  There was even a more Marshall friendly Democratic primary candidate vs. a WVU friendly candidate.  Manchin made one of his first priorities setting up the Marshall University/WVU game and leaned hard on WVU to deliver the game.  This was an extremely popular decision.

Under terms of the agreement for the seven-game series, Marshall will visit Morgantown's Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012 while WVU will visit Huntington's Joan C. Edwards Stadium in 2007 and 2010. The host school for a 2009 matchup will be the winner of two of the first three games in the series.
 link

Everyone knows the game will be popular and even much watched on television.  Both teams are playing for bragging rights, and either team could win.  Anyone with half an ounce of creativity could predict this game will be called "The Coal Bowl" since that is the product WV is best known for.  Should be a great game, right?  A football fan like me should be happy.  But....

It will have a sour taste for me and many other West Virginians this year.  The power brokers in the state just gave a no-bid award to "The Friends of Coal" to sponsor "the Friends of Coal Bowl."

And what does Governor Manchin have to say about this?

"I am so pleased that a sponsor like Friends of Coal has now stepped up to take this game to a level of national prominence similar to the great in-state rivalries of such schools as Florida-Florida State, Alabama-Auburn and Clemson-South Carolina," West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin said.

How much did this cost?   Roughly 1 million dollars for 7 years which the two schools will split.  

That is $140,000 each of the first two years, then 5 percent more -- $147,000 -- during years three through five, and an additional 5 percent, or $154,350, in years six and seven.
 Roughly $75,000 per school per year.  A drop in the bucket compared to the number of times "Friends of Coal" will be said on the national airwaves for 7 years.  Right now, it is definitely a national ESPN game- WVU is picked to be a top 5 team and Marshall is always a good ESPN draw- they are the little team that could.  A mini Green Bay among major college teams and a sentimental favorite.  Plus, there will be a huge tie in to marketing the up-coming movie.  

What does "Friends of Coal" get for all this?

A game logo that features the Friends of Coal emblem and helmets representing both universities' football teams was also unveiled. The contest was named the Friends of Coal Bowl in honor of the more-than-50,000-member grassroots organization that supports state's coal industry

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In other words, a constant barrage of publicity in the state and around the country, especially this year when the Coal Industry looks exceptionally greedy and uncaring.  Why were they interested?  The Charleston Daily Mail reports:

"Shortly after Gov. Joe Manchin announced in May 2005 that the schools would play the series, the coal association called to express interest in naming rights, Parsons said.

"They are the ideal sponsor," Parsons said. "They represent one of the leading industries in the state. Many of their members are supporters of both schools already. It is an opportunity to enhance their image in the state."

Yes, an opportunity to enhance their reputation- and sell out West Virginia for very little.  Others weren't given the opportunity to bid on the deal- not the huge power companies or prosperous banks.  These folks just figure a million dollars was a good deal for buying some helmet logos.  And did the state get the best sponsorship deal possible?  After all, we are a poor state- we should shop our intra-state football game and get the best deal at least.  Nope.  We went right to the coal people- or else we just smiled and signed on when they waved a million dollars in our face.  

Denise Giardina is a local novelist who has written some excellent historical novels about life in the coalfields of West Virginia.  Her local alma mater, West Virginia Weslyan writes about her

Her two "Appalachian" novels, Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth, are critical of the power of the coal companies (and the politicians who empowered them) and lift up the struggles of the miners for union recognition and human rights as a kind of holy war -- a fight to reclaim the inheritance of a people from those who have conquered and degraded it.

Ms. Giardinia is a politically active progressive, and ran for Governor on the Mountain Party as a third party candidate in 2000

She feels passionately about mountaintop removal.  
She wrote a moving Letter to the Editor in the Charleston Daily Mail yesterday which I have excerpted heavily because the link won't stay active long.

Shame on both schools for allowing this, and shame on the Daily Mail for a promotional front-page headline when an article reporting crime would be more appropriate.

It would be wonderful to have a Coal Miners' Bowl to memorialize our miners past and present. But the Friends of Coal are the folks responsible for those mining deaths over the decades.

And what they will have in mind is a "celebration" of mountaintop removal, which is carried out by heavy equipment operators, not coal miners.

Mountaintop removal is an immoral activity that destroys mountains, trees, streams, wildlife and people.
In other words, it destroys West Virginia.

How this horrible destruction of the state can be tied to a football game is beyond me. But it has certainly ruined the game for those who love West Virginia.

Who are The Friends of Coal?  

The Friends of Coal is dedicated to informing and educating West Virginia citizens about the coal industry and its vital role in the state's future.

Our goal is to provide a united voice for an industry that has been and remains a critical economic contributor to West Virginia.

Yes, they are lobbyists and PR hacks and proud of it.  They are trying to convince the state that coal mining is good for them.  So buying the most popular, most hyped sporting event in the history of the state, on the eve of its best nationally recognized game (great teams, great human interest), well that is some brilliant marketing.  I have to admire the guy who thought this one up.  It is so logical and yet so venial and cheap.

And what is Mountaintop removal?  A blight on our landscape AND on our economy:

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This is a picture from the great and sad book "Lost Mountain" by Eric Reese.  

Publisher's Weekly said of this book:

Reece's up-close assessment of a rapacious coal industry is a searing indictment of how a country's energy lust is ravaging the hills and hollows of Appalachia. The first-time author chronicles how, in one year, from October 2003 to September 2004, strip miners sheared away the top of Kentucky's aptly named Lost Mountain. This process of "mountaintop removal" left a barren wasteland that, months earlier, had supported songbirds, fox, deer and other wildlife, and a rich cover of trees. Reece's elegiac book--much more than just an eyewitness report on ecological decimation--also offers a concise history of how the coal industry long exploited workers; hints at harrowing tales of industry intimidation of antimining activists; details how toxic mining runoff has poisoned well water and how landslides have washed away homes and entire hamlets; and in a cautiously optimistic coda, reports how activists have reclaimed a few thousand acres of stripped land with reforestation projects. The Kentucky-born author, who canoed clean Appalachian rivers as a youth, has written an impassioned account of a business rife with industrial greed, devious corporate ownership and unenforced environmental laws. It's also a heartrending account of the rural residents whose lives are being ruined by strip-mining's relentless, almost unfettered, encroachment.

I haven't finished the book yet- I keep crying.  I have driven the backroads of Appalachia and seen first hand what the devastation is.  I have traveled from Charleston and Huntington airports and flown over these mines.  Here is what sludge looks like:

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You get sludge from washing coal.  It can spill and wipe out all the fish and people, as with the Buffalo Creek Disaster.

Here is what strip mining looks like:

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They are creating deserts of coal.  And the coal merchants sold out West Virginia to get Bush elected so he could neglect enforcement of environmental and safety laws on the books.  John Roberts is Supreme Court Justice so the courts will overturn environmental laws that would cause these coal companies to have to remediate after blowing the tops off mountains and plowing the waste into the streams and valleys.  He was a mine company lawyer.  It is everything for the coal barons and nothing for the people who work and live near these mines.  Counties with mines suffer economically!  It is like waiting for WalMart to fix your retail employment problems.  Looks like good salaries for a few, but it destroys everyone ultimately.  

In the words of Colleen Anderson's song, West Virginia Chose Me.  I moved here 7 years ago this month to take a job teaching in one of these universities (you might guess which one).   I love football and I was excited by the game- which I certainly would watch and maybe try to attend.  Now, I have a bitter taste over this sell-out.  I am disappointed in Governor Manchin and both schools for selling out, and selling out so cheaply.  
I just hope they don't bring in the Appalachian Power (Local 1A baseball Team) Dancing coal and flames mascot.  That would make me puke. I predict the half-time show will include a tribute to lost miners, and there will be fund-raising for the Sago Mine Disaster families as the throngs enter the stadium. The ultimate in image restoration for the "Friends of Coal".

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting  

Welcome to Appalachia The National Sacrifice Zone and watch them try and make us happy with their clever sports marketing.

Please recommend if you can.  This is a local story that tells us all how hard it will be to fight and win, when it costs so little to buy out our leaders who should know better.  Donate to a local campaign to try to make up in numbers what we can't make up in $$$ vs. the Bush administration and their economic overlords.

Originally posted to murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 08:12 AM PDT.

Poll

What should I do about watching "The Friends of Coal Bowl?"

28%28 votes
19%19 votes
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| 98 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? (32+ / 0-)

    Clearly, we will work here for handouts from the corporate table.  So Daily Kos tips are at least earned honestly.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 08:13:39 AM PDT

  •  This is an extremely good diary (13+ / 0-)

    I clicked on it thinking it would be a short piece on a bowl game, and instead found a fantastic tale of the linkage of sports, colleges, coal, the environment, politics. Really first-rate stuff.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 08:30:23 AM PDT

    •  what he said (10+ / 0-)
      superrecommend!

      "Come on, Nicky, come home. Just come home. Home. Talk to me. ....Do you remember the trees?"

      by Miss Devore on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 08:42:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks! (16+ / 0-)

      I don't write so many diaries- but this one just needed to be written.  In WV we say, "Everything is politics except politics- and that is personal."  This state is very connected and small.  

      Mollohan, a local congressman, is under big ethicscriticism for supporting local foundations with an interlocking mixture of personal friends with wealth and boards of directors.  But the pool of people who are leaders and decision makers are so small that it is possible to enter and become quite enmeshed in the networks.  I think he made some ill-considered choices (buying property with loans from friends who were on various boards from his ear-marked foundations), but if you don't live here you don't realize how easy that is to do.

      Manchin alternatively wants to be pro-coal and pro-miner.  He will probably write off this criticism as sour grapes or silly, but it isn't.  We get these lobbyists sponsoring our games for 7 years now.

      They funded a miner statue on the State Capital grounds.  They put mountaintop removal in plaques around the base of the statue- as if to commemorate this destructive form of mining as equal to the deep mining.

      Saddest moment in WV for me- coming to the Capital after Sago and seeing the wreaths at the statue.  It represents the sorts of compromises that go on- We needed a memorial and it is a great statue.  But the Friends of Coal sponsor it and it becomes advertising for them.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 08:42:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Massey, Massey, Massey (9+ / 0-)

    Don Blankenship won't be satisfied until he owns everyone and everything in the State of West Virginia.

    •  He wants to be governor.... (8+ / 0-)

      but the mine fire in Logan county may get criminal charges filed.  Mine disaster followers may remember this mine incident as the one where a conveyer belt caught fire after maintenance problems were ignored.  On local radio I heard people call in who had quit this mine out of fear- heartfelt, sobbing people.  I think this will be the one that really sticks as neglect.  A colleague who works on coal mine safety spoke recently about Massey.  The colleague said that from the top down, Massey says safety is their number one concern.  But it is all talk- they don't maintain the mines.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 09:52:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it took place 3 miles from me. (6+ / 0-)

        I am currently working in Logan on a 3-month contract, so the Aracoma Mine accident is very fresh in the mind. Massey was cited earlier this week for causing a slurry spill and MTR resulting in a major mudslide closing WV 17. This came the weekend after their corporate picnic here in Logan (which felt like an invasion).

        Don Blankenship will never be governor. NPR has been too good at putting all of his personal information out in the press --- including his affairs. He can aspire all he wants, but no one here in southern West Virginia trusts him. So what that he got Brent Benjamin elected? People are finally waking up to Blankenship's intent.

    •  Vanity Fair Green Issue (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

      In all of the stories in Vanity Fair's green issue, and that includes the story on "An Inconvenient Truth", the one that brought me to tears was "The Rape of Appalachia".  If you haven't read the article, I encourage you to.  It incorporates the politics, the greed, the human toll as well as the environmental destruction.

      The online version lacks photos which can be found here.

      •  Very Good Article.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull

        It would be hard to imagine a more ill-advised course of action than ruining large swaths of land to get coal, and then poisoning the atmosphere with the gases from burning it. Yet the incremental damage from mining and burning a billion tons of coal a year is hard for most Americans to see, so they don't worry about it.

        I like the people who want to call it the global warming bowl, because the mining of the coal is just the half of it.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:05:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Local reporter.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          faithfull, SnowCountry

          Ken Ward Jr. is also mentioned.  He should win a Pulitzer too.  He is an excellent local reporter.

          But I believe Sago may act as a tipping point.  And oddly too, I think Sago became a watchword because of a fluke- people were home for the holiday watching the nonstop January football games.  The coverage intervened.  Then, the whole thing took on a life of its own, with a life and death struggle, a dramatic survivor.  Randall McCloy may be the Jessica Lynch of mining- telling the truth not the publicity version.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:22:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding diary... highly rec'ced (6+ / 0-)
    Hope this makes the rec-list. I heard about this via my Appalnet list-serv (for academics and activists). I'll send this diary-link to that List with some excerpts. Good job.
  •  A little more on the movie: (7+ / 0-)

    It is a fairly extensive Warner Brothers production with big name stars:

    It will star Matthew McConaughey (Lots of hits, including U-571 and The Wedding Planner) , Michael Fox (Lost) and David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck).  

    Links

    Previews start July 21.

    Yes, this is one of the first films about WV in recent yeas filmed here.  We all hope they do justice to the story.

    Here is a link to a local singer Ryan Parker with an mp3 about the crash- really moving.  It takes a long time to download.

    http://www.ryanparkersongs.com/...

    Just to emphasize, this football game is a big deal here.  I doubt if the conjunction of an emotionally hyped Marshall Team and an Excellent WVU team will ever get more publicity in subsequent years.  

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 10:58:13 AM PDT

    •  Raally, here are links..... (4+ / 0-)

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 11:08:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  David Strathairn was in Matewan, John Sayles' (4+ / 0-)

      1987 film about the 1920 Matewan massacre.  Straitharn knows about West Virginia and the coal business.

      Sayles has a lot to say about the film and how and why he made it.  If you've never seen it, I hope you will.

      Thank you for your excellent diary, murrayewv.  I'll be forwarding it to a friend from West Virginia.

      And, of course, good luck!

      Well, Mark, the President has worked to elevate the discourse in this town.
      -- Scott McClellan 5/17/2005

      by coloradobl on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 09:27:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have watched Matewan.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull, coloradobl

        although local colleagues say the plot was simplified a lot.  The rest is a very true film.  It should be shown in history class.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:03:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Cool trivia fact.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull, coloradobl

        I missed that with all the local film coverage.  I have some great shots of the equipment during the filming.  Straitharn gets to be the bad university president who wants to close down the program.  This part is fictionalized a bit to make it more dramatic, but Wichita State did close its football program after a plane crash.  They have a strong basketball program that continued.  

        October 2, 1970 was one of the blackest days in Shocker history. One of two planes carrying players, staff and fans to a football game in Utah State, the "gold" plane crashed near Silver Plume, Colorado. Many were injured, and 31 people lost their lives. 1986 was the last season of football at WSU.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:50:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, SnowCountry

          ...WSU didn't shut down its football program until sixteen years after the plane crash, and the usual factors - losing teams and poor attendance - were the culprits.

          I can think of one other sports-related air disaster.  The University of Evansville's basketball team was wiped out in a 1977 crash.

          Economic -4.13, Social -3.59. Does this make me a right-winger by Kos standards?

          by KTinOhio on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 08:56:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I sure didn't know that.... (0+ / 0-)

            I sure appreciate the advice....I added the corrections.  I am going to repost over at Appalachian Voices blog (my first request to do so) and I will be sending on the corrected version thanks to you.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 06:31:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I caught a Marshall game (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, SnowCountry

    By accident a few years ago. I cheered like hell for them without knowing why. After reading this, I'll still cheer like hell...but now I'll know exactly why.

    As for "Friends of Coal"...well, best not even go there else I'll clutter your fine diary with curse words.

    Common sense, decency, concern and caring for those less fortunate - is that too much to ask of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people"?

    by PatsBard on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 09:26:24 PM PDT

    •  Wonderful diary... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

      ...with a few minor errors regarding Herd football.

      The 1992 team won the I-AA championship, but it lost three games during the season.  The 1996 team, Marshall's last in I-AA, finished 15-0 en route to the school's second I-AA title.

      Marshall and WVU have met five times in football.  Four of them were back in the 1910s and 1920s, and WVU won all four.  The teams also met in Morgantown in the 1997 season opener, in Marshall's first game back in Division I-A.  WVU bolted to a 28-3 lead, then Marshall scored four straight TDs to move ahead 31-28, but WVU scored twice in the fourth quarter to pull out a 42-31 win.

      KTinOhio
      Marshall University, Class of 1981

      Economic -4.13, Social -3.59. Does this make me a right-winger by Kos standards?

      by KTinOhio on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 10:52:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the corrections.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull

        you guessed my school!  Ring the bell.  Since I missed some of the glory years, I am more inaccurate.  They have the signs up on the road down fifth street hill, but they don't mention the games spcifically won or lost.  I have found as a rule men know where Marshall is and women haven't usually heard of it.

        I hope you plan to see the Marshall Movie, as we have come to call it.  If they do a good job, it could be a classic.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:07:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I will probably watch the darned game.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull, PatsBard, jawjaboy

        because you know it is likely to be that kind of game.  I do love football teams that don't give up.  But WVU should be very strong this year, so I am a little nervous.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:46:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks KTinOhio. (0+ / 0-)

        I hope they are correct now.  I recall the 1996 was the change to NCAA IIA and they were selected all-time best NCAA IIA team ever in some retrospectives, so I included that link.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 07:37:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary! (5+ / 0-)

    I moved to WV 3 years ago. I didn't know anyone here. Had no job set up, knew nothing about the area...other than it was beautiful and the people I met on a job I did for 6 months back in 1997 here in the state were incredible. I fell in love with the state and it's people, and when I had the chance to come here...I jumped at it.

    Burnt out from my stint in the corporate world, I came here to relax and try to learn to live life...not work it.

    It's the best choice I have ever made.

    I took a job as bartender (thinking I would just use it to make ends meet until I found a position)....I'm still there 3 years later.  I love my job because I love the people I see every day.

    Hardest working people I have ever met. I thought 90 hours a week in a suit was exhausting. These guys (and gals) put in 90 hours in a coal mine.

    Coal is almost everything here in the southern part of the state. Either you work in the mines, or you work in a business that serves either the miners or the mines themselves.

    You might think that since the mines play such a vital roll in their lives that the people would be "pro-mining" no matter what. You would be wrong if you did so though.

    These people love their mountains. They are as connected to the earth as any farmer. Most of them have generations of their family that have worked in the mines, and spent their spare time enjoying the most beautiful land that god ever set upon this earth.

    The "green" gets to you here. You can't avoid it. The glory of nature takes your breath away on a regular basis in these parts. I take a lot of long rides on my bike, and I will often pull over and just stare for a while, lost in awe inspiring beauty. Add in friendly, good hearted people who never meet a stranger, only future friends.

    "Almost heaven" nothing...this is heaven.

    So even though many people are "pro-coal"...they aren't stupid. They hate the PR machine and the whole "friends of coal" crap. They understand and realize that coal is our present and our future in this area...but the land is our constant and will be with us forever, as long as we remain aware and don't let the "friends of coal" rape the land instead of work the land.

    It's a shame that a game which many have looked forward to for years...will be sponsored by a PR organization that represents the negative side of coal mining. People here are proud of being miners, but are angry at what the companies have done at times to them, their friends and neighbors, and the land around them.

    •  You have really captured it.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull, SnowCountry

      the mountain folks want to be good miners.  Why should they want to work unsafely or wreck their environment to do it?

      People are very connected to their land and hold on to it.  They are big hunters and many collect wild plants to supplement their income.  Some grow a few wild plants too,if you catch my drift.  But I truly believe we went Republican over guns- West Virginians think of themselves as frontiersmen still.  Relentless gun advertising against Gore swayed the 2000 election, and Swift Boat advertising and guns swayed 2004, especially since we

      If the hard work and energy of mountain people could be harnessed, the world would be shocked.  Toyota has its most productive North American plant here and there is a very productive contact lens factory in Cabell County that just keeps expanding.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:16:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Coming into WV (5+ / 0-)

    from Kentucky, You drive about thirty miles and you come into a town with a bridge over a river. Just past the town is a mining operation that looks just dastardly. Of course, it is hidden slightly from the highway in that they are keeping the tres on the highway side of the mountain. I wonder about the other side.

    It looks like an entire valley on the other side might be gone.

    Do you know anything about what I am describing?

    Then you go up the fantastic stretch that takes you to Morgantown and the Cumberland Pass.

    It's worth dying for, Kentucky through West Virgina, and Maryland. Never seen anything more beautiful.

    First they call you a traitor, then they pass the Patriot Act II, then they tap your phone, then you move to Canada. -- Mohandas Gandhi

    by roboton on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 10:19:40 PM PDT

    •  Drove through southeast KY this summer... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roboton, faithfull, SnowCountry

      down to the Seedtime on the Cumberland festival.  It was excellent.  But I saw the most amazing mountaintop removal and coal mines in Harlan County and near Hazard.  It was devastating.  The linked diary called "The National Sacrifice Zone" was very good, and a lively discussion of the plusses and minuses of coal mining was in the discussion.  

      I couldn't get a picture of the destruction without:

      1. wide angle lens;
      1. arial photography;
      1.  Getting killed from traffic on two lane roads around blind corners.

      I think the destruction photos probably need helicopters.

      They DO put the mines behind screens of trees.  You are SO right.  Reminds me of the roads in the NW where there is a strip of old growth between the highway and the clearcut.

      Actually, many similarities beween logging issues and mining issues at times.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:25:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not sure which mine you are speaking of.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

    ...but the Kentucky/WV border area is indeed beautiful.

    The bar I work at is attached to a hotel. More than 100 men and women from Kentucky spend every Mon-Fri at the hotel. They are working at a local mine, which imports people to work at it and pays for their lodging in addition to employing them.

    The coal business has been "boom or bust" in WV for years. Young people had a very hard time getting into the mines for many years during the latest "bust phase" (1977- 2002)

    Due to this, there aren't enough young miners around to fill all the jobs currently open. So now, the coal companies are paying a huge premium to get enough experienced people to do the work. We have people from as far away as Australia living in the hotel and working at the mines.

    Starting pay of $26/hr and good insurance is a big draw in an area where most jobs pay minimum wage.

    I see the guys from Kentucky pull in every Sunday night. They stop in the bar for a second, have a quick drink or two, and head off to bed. Their shift starts at 4am, and they know they will be busting their asses for the next 6 days, and are happy because they got to spend Saturday night at home with their families.

    I haven't lost the awe I felt at first in talking to men (and women) like them. They have a job (which is harder than anything I have ever done) and they are away from home every night except for 1..... every single week for years. (Many of these guys (and gals) have been doing this for more than 3 years.

    Yet they don't complain. They are happy they have jobs that pay them enough to take care of their families, and even though they don't get to spend much time with them...their families come first.

    I'm honored that they consider me a friend.

    If you ever have doubts about this countries future, come to Appalachia and talk to the people here. You will never again fear that the idiocy of our current "leaders" can destroy what the labor and sacrifice of millions has built.

    These people know how to work, and how to protect the things they care about.

    •  one too many drinks bartender (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull, murrayewv

      Your post sounds like happy talk the energy industry pays millions for.  All that's missing is the little girl on TV telling us coal is so wonderful you can practically eat it for breakfast.

      "These people" as you call them cannot protect the things they care about, all three branches of their government belong to king coal. Asked under oath why one energy company refused to spend the $10 that would have protected countless rivers and streams in eastern KY responded, "it was good enough for Appalachia."

      The U.S. EPA estimates that over 700 miles of healthy streams have been completely buried by mountaintop removal and thousands more have been damaged. Toxic slurry is stored right next to homes and schools. Entire families have been forced off their land by mountain top mining - some at the barrel of their neighbors' gun.  The coal industry IS the government. And just like poor people all over the world, their lives aren't worth a penny of profit.

      Some of the lowest income families are forced to buy bottled water because what comes out of their wells is hazardous for drinking and bathing. An Eastern Kentucky University study found that children in Letcher County, Ky., suffer from an alarmingly high rate of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath -- symptoms of something called blue baby syndrome -- that can all be traced back to sedimentation and dissolved minerals that have drained from mine sites into nearby streams. Long-term effects may include liver, kidney, and spleen failure, bone damage, and cancers of the digestive tract.

      How's that for protecting things?

      http://www.ohvec.org/...

      •  Hard work isn't enough... (0+ / 0-)

        that is the sad, honest truth debraz.  We need a government that will honor the social contract.  That is why I was so ticked off about this "Friends of Coal" sellout.  But people cave in for a job fairly quickly.  Yesterday I read that there are more peole working in WV for WalMart than as Coal Miners.  And you all know what WalMArt pays.  Good jobs keep us down.

        We need a power industry that pays the true cost of energy.  Coal burning for electricity is so subsidized by the permitted destruction of the environment and our health here in Appalachia.  And we are burning that coal and then sending the energy to the east coast- to Washington DC.

        I spend a lot more of my science time worried about the waters and air of Appalachia than the mountains.  I am working on arsenic testing and hopefully can get some testing on other elements as well.  I should post some of my gob and sludge pictures.  

        I also recommend the book "Coal, A Human History" by Barbara Freese.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:35:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Strip Away Big D-9 Dozer (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debraz, faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

    Coming for to bury my home
    Strip Away, Big D-9 Dozer
    Coming for to bury my home.

    Thank you for your diary.  As a former Marshall student, and an activist against the coal mining corporations since the early 70's (I was there the night the plane crashed), I can tell you this is the long, sad story of West Virginia.  This state was bought and sold by the coal companies years ago.  Manchin's daddy was a coal company lackey, and his son has followed in those steps.

    Marshall, however, will still kick butt against the WVU Mountaineers, whoever sponsors the game!

    •  The link to the Chicago Tribune story... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull

      always makes me cry.  That is some fine writing.  I connected her with the Pulitzer award immediately.  It is the most honest portrait of a grieving community, and how long it takes to get over something like this happening in your community.  These young people and team supporters left a hole in the community's fabric that is still felt.  My colleagues who were here teaching then still talk about it with amazing grief.

      I asked one once, shouldn't they be over it by now.  He said, we will never be over it.  And the longer I am here, the more I know that it is true.  You are never over something like this if it happens.

      Imagine those little towns in upstate NY and Ohio who lost a large number in their National Guard troop.  They will not recover quickly.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 04:43:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We Will Never Forget (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

        Because of just what you said - we will never get over it.  Everyone in the community was touched.  My godparents were on the plane, the parents of one of my friends from junior high on up, Happy and Elaine Heath, perished.  Michael Prestera, a Democratic legislator - gone.  18 fraternity brothers.  I had to leave because of the grief and transferred to Georgetown, thanks to Father Scott.

        It has colored that town and university from that faithful day, and nothing, nothing, can change that.  

        The tears continue.  I just watched the "We Are Marshall" video on YouTube, and my eyes have been filled.

        I miss those guys!

        •  I really have come to understand more.... (0+ / 0-)

          about the courage you need to live through tragedy.  I am so sympathetic.  My son goest to high school with children who lost their gradparents on the flight.  I haven't seen the video on You Tube though.  Here is that link.  My colleague knows the singer and gave me the link.  

          For those who don't know it, the cheer is two sided-one side yells:  We are: and the other replies: Marshall.  ITs on the video.  And it is the crazy "get it done" attitude that says we will try even when we don't have enough or any reason to expect to succeed.  An optimistic spirit wanting to make things better.  Its not just the football, its overcoming the tragedy to become world class in something.

          The film will end with the real people who are portrayed in the film by actors at a ceremony at  the memorial fountain- which is turned off every year in a ceremony on the day of the crash.  I really hope they do the story justice- because we all need a happier ending for such a tragedy.

          There are some world class graduates of this little school, including Ellen Mosley Thompson and Lonny Thompson who work on global warming and the melting glaciers.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 01:45:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great job! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    faithfull, murrayewv, SnowCountry

    As a native and lifetime resident of WV, the thing that makes me sickest is seeing people suck up to coal companies (a particular specialty of WV football coaches). If there is anything worse than leveling mountains and screwing over Appalachia, it's sucking up to those who do.  

    •  Thanks.... (0+ / 0-)

      I commented on your diary yesterday, without realizing you were from here.  Hang in with it- Sundays are hit or miss (usually miss for me- this got about 17 comments yesterday, half from me).

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:46:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Diary (0+ / 0-)

    I recently returned from a whitewater rafting trip on the New River. WV is simply gorgeous. Tourism seems to be a growing business there which this ecodestruction will stunt. The tour companies might be your natural allies.Where is Sen. Byrd on all this?

    "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." Einstein

    by jawjaboy on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 05:09:36 AM PDT

    •  Byrd is not a big environmentalist.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithfull, jawjaboy

      he was strongly against Kyoto protocols.  

      He is bigger on Abandoned Mines.  This links to an excellent series from 2004 on the topic showing how money is collected for clean-up and is used for other purposes.  Byrd strongly advocates sending this money to WV and other affected states.  Pennsylvania would benefit and Kentucky.

      Since 1978, U.S. coal operators have paid more than $7 billion in production taxes meant to fund the cleanup of mine sites that were abandoned before the nation implemented strict reclamation rules. But today, more than $3 billion of mine sites that threaten public safety remain unreclaimed. The federal Abandoned Mine Land program has not met its goals in large part because regulators diverted more than $1.3 billion in AML money to other projects.

      Problem is, mountaintop removal has "watered down" land reclamation rules under Bush.  Now they level things off, throw some grass seed on the mess and say it is reclaimed.  Curiously, Byrd had allies in Wyoming on this, as they are pretty much letting miners wreck that state.

      Tourism is becoming an increasingly important job.  I have heard that tourism brings in more $ than coal to the state, but I don't have a good source for that definitively.  Tourism brings its own costs- since the jobs don't pay very well, tourists want to buy up the land and live in developments, and some areas tourists just don't go are the areas being destroyed.  

      Some of Mollohan's current problems come from foundations like Mountain Madeand Vandalia Heritage Foundationthat he established (using ear-marks) to promote tourism and fine arts crafts.  Really frustrates many here since these are good ideas and we respect his efforts to bring high technology to the state.  But he managed to make a lot of money from investments using money he borrowed from friends.  Hillary had the same problem as well.  But rich people do this all the time.  

      The whole New River Gorge was mined.  You don't see the mines now, because the coal companies picked up everything they owned and moved it when they left..  Thurmond has some buildings left.  And the water is very acidic- not harmful to people but fish need pretty neutral pH water to live in.  There is a reason all that water is nice and clear- and it isn't a good one.  They dump in tons of limestone to remediate the acid, but more acid comes from the mines, many now mined out and abandoned.  

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 05:37:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I always (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        faithfull, murrayewv

        thought Byrd, whatever his other flaws, loved WV and wore it on his sleeve more than a lot of these other guys.And I will cheer for Marshall in your honor.

        "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." Einstein

        by jawjaboy on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:08:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He does love WV... (0+ / 0-)

          it is real and sincere.  But mining is what we do- and no one really wants to end the mining.  Just harness and control it.  We are being stampeded on this- and it is happening fast.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:24:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fucking heartbreaking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScientistMom in NY, SnowCountry

    Murrayewv,
    This is an amazing informed, entertaining, and well written story. You should consider turning this into an op-ed for local WV papers, if they'd run it. Also, if youd send me an email, I'd love to talk with you about some other things we could do with your writing, including posts on the Appalachian Voices blog.

    Thank you for covering this

    "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abe Lincoln

    by faithfull on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:18:55 AM PDT

    •  That is high praise indeed, faithfull (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScientistMom in NY, faithfull

      I really was inspired by your meme of the national sacrifice zone- that was a great diary and deserved its prominence.  I am struck by the increasing number of Appalachian bloggers on this site- leading to bloggin/clogging reference potential.

      I could rewrite a little bit and send it on to the other blog if you like.  I have one paragraph that should be better sourced, talking about the plane crash- otherwise this really came from the heart.  

      If I were the "Friends of Coal" board, I would make the game be "Randal McCloy Day" and drag him out for the PR.  Or Sago Mine Family Day- and raise money for the families.  What do you bet they try that?  

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  damn. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv

        I can tell you've been doin this for a long time :)
        You know the coal compnay mindset well...

        Your writing style is much more from the heart than mine. I couldnt have told a story this personal. I just get fired up and try to get other people feeling the same way.  I'd be honored to put this up on the AV blog, and we'd love to have you as a member if youre not one.

        I, personally, would also love to go to bat for you being a regular contributor to the blog, if that was something you'd be interested in. It'd have to go through the board and whatnot, but I think that if they read this piece, they'd be very excited to have you on the team!

        Did this diary make the recommended list? It damn well should have! It got quite a few rec's!

        "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abe Lincoln

        by faithfull on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 07:02:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          faithfull

          I have yet to make that special place.  I am an emotional blogger- I write to share my ideas but also to organize my thoughts for myself.  So I post as soon as I write something instead of picking the best time of day.  My daughter reads the blog and it is a way to communicate what I am thinking.  She signed up recently.  I should send you some of her cartoons- she is very talented- working on an MFA in cartooning and is working on a graphic novel about Appalachia.  

          I am ambivilent about the whole "recognition" thing.  I am involved in a small technology start-up with local angel investors, teach 12 credits a semester and volunteer a lot.  I keep my politics to myself a whole lot (hence the blogging as an outlet).  But I could speak about the football issue, I hope, and would like to cross-post this one if you will have it.  

          I did a little rewrite just now.  I really do see how people get to accidently plagiarize, but since I teach some writing classes, I also know how to rewrite to avoid that.  I corrected my football errors from the 90s thanks to an quick-witted alum who posted earlier.  How do people send this in?  dkos lets you cut and paste the html code as the diary editor- and that would be useful for reporting if you use the same code.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 07:35:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  murrayewv (0+ / 0-)

            Well, know that this very well should have been on the rec' list, its excellent writing. and it should really have been on the front page, just to give people a taste of how Appalachia is run by coal/energy (and I think is an intersting mircrocosm of the US/oil...but thats another story)

            If youd shoot me an email at jwrandolph@gmail.com, we'll get you set up with getting this on the AV blog. I also think that you should try and submit this as an op-ed in local papers, or even in national ones. OHVEC, which it sounds like your familiar with, might also be interested, and we might also be able to use it as a piece in the Appalachian Voice newspaper.

            "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abe Lincoln

            by faithfull on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 07:54:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Recommend! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScientistMom in NY, SnowCountry

    This diary needs to be on the front page

    "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abe Lincoln

    by faithfull on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 06:19:14 AM PDT

    •  I agree, front page (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, SnowCountry

      This is one of the best pieces I've read for a long time.  I agree that this deserves publication, but I wouldn't limit it to WV newspapers.  I think it is of national interest.  

      For some reason, the recommend box is missing on some comments I wanted to recommend, including the tip jar.  Does it disappear after a certain amount of time has passed?

      •  Yes.... (0+ / 0-)

        We apparently soak up the server space.  Also, I went to correct my football stats and the html code for links had changed.  Luckily I figured that out, but that was really wierd.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 09:04:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Digging our way out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, SnowCountry

    Great diary, for those of us who live in WV it is all to apparent the destruction that has been brought against the people of WV since the exploitation of coal has begun. As a student at Marshall University, I had been looking forward to a game between the two schools. Although, when I found out about the proposed name I begun to have second thoughts. Its bad enough that our state can not get past the stereotypes that have so often plagued us (coal,hillbillies,corruption), but to sell out the naming rights for only one million dollars. Thats ridiculous. My suggestion, how about we sell the state name off to the highest bidder. I like the ring of Coalginia personally. Atleast, the number one industry of WV did not get to name the bowl or we could have been stuck with the Dow/Carbide Bowl.

    •  Another good argument! (0+ / 0-)

      We won't get past the whole "Coal backwardsR Us" with this as the name.  And Coal isn't the overwhelming force it once was.  Here is the other joke- hasn't it occured to them that if there is an energy shortage, maybe we should be the go-to state and not looted for a pittance?

      Dow/Carbide are laying people off to send that manufacturing abroad, so that is one less choice.  We have a lot of timber- so we could have been the WESTVACO bowl.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 10:08:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also welcome-first time poster. (0+ / 0-)

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Jul 03, 2006 at 10:09:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, SnowCountry

          Thanks for the welcome. I really appreciate your diary entry. Anytime that somebody can get out the word on West Virginia's plight I am all ears. Our state has so much potential, but alas, the state receives nothing but bad press. Our state was born out of conflict and will always remain in conflict. If its not the geography that is screwing us, its the politicians and big business. I hope to write more about West Virginia and the problems that we face once I am able to compose diaries on Kos.

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