Mountaineers, Marshall laugh now after student was used as a spy
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Oddly enough, it happened on the calendar date 4-11. You know, as in information, details, gimme the 4-1-1. It will remain part of the urban slang, if not slung mud, across the Mountain State.
For April 11 was the date when a West Virginia University work-study student, who toiled around the Mountaineers' football offices in the Puskar Center, became a footnote to Marshall-West Virginia football history: He was discovered trying to spy.
That student took notes that day inside an open-to-the-public Marshall spring practice in Huntington, W.Va. Problem was, NCAA rules prohibit opposing-team coaches or representatives from attending such a practice without permission. Thundering Herd officials spotted the young man jotting notes on a pad and, next thing anyone knew, associate athletic director Mark Gale was chasing the kid up the Joan C. Edwards Stadium steps.
First, he claimed he was from Alabama-Birmingham, a Conference USA foe of Marshall's.
Then he claimed he was a student reporter.
Finally, campus police searched him.
In his possession were the contact numbers -- office and cell phones -- for each Mountaineers football coach. "We decided not to publish them," Marshall athletic director Bob "Kayo" Marcum kidded yesterday, four and a half months later but enjoying the retelling just five days before the Thundering Herd and No. 5 Mountaineers meet Saturday in Mountaineer Field for only the second time since 1923. "We didn't want to start a program 'Call Your Favorite Coach Week.'"
They also found detailed notes. And here is where the lines of this in-state scrum begin to get etched into the coal-rich soil: The Mountaineers' side maintains that the student's notes weren't exactly meticulous, and the Marshall folks assert that the young man knew his football.
"I've seen the notes myself. I don't think they'll design plays such as that," West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said yesterday with a chuckle. "There wasn't much to them. I don't think he was very experienced at what he was doing."
If the student were taking a class in the subject, though, added Marcum, long ago a Don Nehlen assistant at Canton-McKinley High School in Ohio: "He would've passed. Especially on the defensive side of the ball."
Marshall kept the originals and sent copies overnight to athletic department officials in Morgantown and Big East Conference compliance types. "We still have 'em," Marcum said.
"I don't know what we did with them, to tell you the truth," Pastilong added of their copies.
The student was never identified publicly. He was transferred in April from Puskar Center work study to another spot on campus.
"A young, enthusiastic work-study student made an error," Pastilong said, describing a student who wanted to impress his unwitting employers. "But that's behind us."
Marshall was satisfied with the Mountaineers' dispatch in handling the matter, Marcum said. He sounded a tad amused by how Mountaineers officials distanced themselves from the student, with Marcum wondering if the young man would re-appear around Mountaineer Field by 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
"First thing, they'd have to re-introduce themselves to the kid," Marcum teased. "They acted like they didn't know him."
The student, for some reason, laced his notes with derogatory and even profane remarks about certain members of the Herd. All-Conference USA center and Rimington Award candidate Doug Legursky, all 6 feet 3, 311 pounds of him, was listed as "No. 66, fat ... " Spat Legursky, a native of Beckley in West Virginia's southern end, in an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail's Chuck Landon: "If [the student] thinks of me that way, then I hope WVU does. Until [Saturday], I'm just putting a little grin on my face about it."
Coaches Rich Rodriguez of West Virginia and Mark Snyder of Marshall, who are friendly -- and "that certainly helped us get it behind us quickly," Pastilong said -- don't seem too interested in publicly jousting over the incident this week.
Asked yesterday, Snyder began, "I really don't know what you're talking about, bud." Then he laughed. "We'll leave it at that."
NOTES -- Rodriguez yesterday released a two-deep lineup that contained a few alterations. Converted guard Ryan Stanchek is listed as the starting left tackle over Damien Crissey of Bedford. Redshirt freshman guard Greg Isdaner, out more than a week and seemingly dropped from the depth-chart top, was listed as still competing with John Bradshaw for the starting left guard position vacated by Stanchek. On defense, sophomore Charles Pugh was listed as first team along with injured bandit safety Ridwan Malik, recovering from a hip strain. Outside linebacker Bobby Hathaway of Carmichaels, absent a week with a foot infection, remained locked in a competition for the first-team job with sophomore Reed Williams. And middle linebacker Jay Henry was listed as a co-starter with Marc Magro, though Henry could well move over to the Hathaway-Williams outside spot for a series or more so Magro can man the middle. ... Other notables among the depth chart: sophomore converted tight end Tito Gonzalez arose to back up Rayshawn Bolden at one receiver spot and Blackhawk sophomore Jeremy Bruce was listed behind Darius Reynaud at another; and Seton-LaSalle freshman Carmen Connolly was the backup holder behind Travis McClintic.
First Published August 29, 2006 12:00 am