The Return of the Friends of Coal Bowl is Now Possible

With Neal Brown’s recent comments on scheduling at WVU, could this open the door for the return of the Friends of Coal Bowl?

Morgantown, WV – Neal Brown is no fan of playing 11 Power Five programs annually. In a recent interview with The Voice of College Football’s Mike Rogers, Brown spoke at length about his disapproval of WVU’s current scheduling structure. Being in favor of playing “one FCS, one Group of Five, and one regional opponent,” the days of the Mountaineers playing ridiculously difficult schedules are likely in the past.

Beginning in 2025, West Virginia will play under the aforementioned schedule structure with home games against Robert Morris and Pitt, while traveling to Athens, Ohio for a matchup with the Ohio Bobcats in-between. This strategy will then carry over into 2026 and 2027 as WVU is scheduled to play against Alabama, UT Martin, VMI, East Carolina, and Ohio.

With the return of Group of Five schools on WVU’s schedule, this will open up a plethora of opportunities for the Mountaineers to play teams they have never met on the gridiron. On the other hand, however, it could open the door for some potential rematches with schools that the Mountaineers have not played in over a decade.

One school in particular being Marshall.

The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd have not met on the football field since September 1, 2012. It was a 69-34 blowout in favor of WVU, moving the school’s record against Marshall to a convincing 12-0. With the induction of the College Football Playoff, and teams that play challenging schedules assumed to be favored by the committee, this series was shelved in favor of other regional rivalries.

What we have since learned, though, is that the committee does not always punish a team for scheduling below their level of competition. Combine that with Neal Brown’s desire to play a Group of Five school at home, and this could easily lead to a revival of the Friends of Coal Bowl.

While this seems intriguing in theory, there are a number of things that would have to happen first. Both teams would need to have openings on their future schedules – which they do. Marshall and West Virginia both have dates open in 2028 and beyond.

The Herd would also have to agree to a 2-for-1 series (two games in Morgantown, one game in Huntington). This was the agreement set in place between Ohio and West Virginia. The two will first meet in Athens in 2025, followed by matchups in Morgantown in 2027 and 2029. If Marshall would refuse to agree to these terms, then a deal would likely not be met.

Lastly, there would have to be interest in the restoration of the series. Marshall fans have made it clear that they would like their team to have another shot at WVU. Mountaineer fans, on the contrary, are not so keen on the facing the Herd.

So that aspect will take some work.

The dominoes are in line for WVU and Marshall to once again meet on the football field. Whether or not they fall into place remains to be seen. Take it as you will, but this conversation is not as far fetched as you may think. Do not be surprised if you see some rumblings on Marshall-WVU sometime in the foreseeable future.


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Clark Johnson
Clark Johnson is a Football Columnist for The Voice of West Virginia. He is a student at Concord University and is majoring in History with a minor in Political Science. He became a Mountaineer fan at 9-years old and has not missed a WVU football game since 2008. He is honored to bring new perspective and fresh content to the best fanbase in the nation!