Benefits of Coal Bowl series are few and far between

West Virginia University players rush the field following a 24-21 overtime win against Marshall Friday in Huntington, W.Va.

It was exciting. It was captivating. It was an instant classic. At the end of the day, West Virginia University won, and that's all that matters.

The WVU-Marshall game Saturday was probably the greatest in the history of the series.

However, that does not diminish the fact that the Friends of Coal Bowl is an unnecessary game that should be disbanded.

Gov. Joe Manchin essentially forced this game take place starting in 2006.

Although his intentions were noble, the concept is misguided.

This game has a great deal of risks with very few rewards for either side. Both teams and the state suffer from the playing of this game.

It's not that Marshall cannot compete with West Virginia in athletics.

Marshall is a fine school that has had great success in athletics – especially football – in the recent past.

The reasons for the need to disband the Friends of Coal Bowl have nothing to do with performance on the field.

Look no further than basketball to realize that Marshall can play with the Mountaineers and even beat them. Marshall has defeated two NCAA tournament teams in the Capital Classic in recent years.

The Capital Classic is a great game that should not be disbanded, even though a home-and-home series may be more exciting for the fan bases. Due to the fact that the basketball season is much longer and a single loss has less effect, which makes this game a fun experience for both teams.

The football game, however, is unfair to Marshall, WVU and the state of West Virginia.

First, this game has a negative impact on Marshall.

Although the opportunity to upset an established program is a great positive for the Thundering Herd, there are significant risks involved.

Being from a smaller conference, Marshall is saddled with a different pressure.

If they have dreams of making a major bowl game or even possibly play for a national championship, they are essentially required to go undefeated.

So, by having to play a team each year that is more talented, Marshall is hurting the opportunity to make a major name for itself on the national stage.

For those Marshall fans who think beating WVU is big on the national stage, it's not.

This game has a great deal of hype and fanfare regionally, but it is essentially unnoticed nationally. Playing this year's game on ESPN on an off-night of college football was a good step, but it still has limited national appeal.

Second, this game has no real benefits for the WVU football program.

As the more established team from the bigger conference, the Mountaineers will most assuredly be the heavy favorites going into every game against Marshall.

With that advantage comes an extreme pressure.

If West Virginia loses to Marshall, then the reputation of the program will take a major hit. The team will lose favor with pollsters, who are the major deciding factor of who plays what in college football.

However, if West Virginia defeats Marshall, even soundly, there is the perception they "should have" won the game. Whether true or not, a pollster assumes that defeating a team from a lower grade conference is not worth anything.

College football is a beauty pageant.

Unfortunately for WVU, beating Marshall is the equivalent of having a Miss America contestant read for her talent. It won't impress anybody if they can do it. And if they can't, there is no way they are moving on to the next round.

Finally, this game has a direct negative impact on the state of West Virginia.

When governor Manchin introduced the idea to play this game, he most assuredly thought that this new "rivalry" would be a good thing for the state.

Its social impacts are positive.

However, if one looks at the economics of this game, it hurts the state.

It could be argued that the Friends of Coal Bowl hurts the West Virginia economy because it prevents money from being put into the economy of the state.

If each team played an out of state team instead of each other, they would be bringing in two sets of people from other states.

These people would have no other reason to be here than the football game. And while they are here, they will spend money within our state.

Not only are the benefits to the athletic teams minimal, but this game is also affecting the state's ability to generate revenue.

As the governor is set to leave office to bigger and better things, let the Coal Bowl do the same.

It was a fun series while it lasted. And after the series runs out, both teams should move on and look back fondly at the Friends of Coal Bowl.