MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The most surprising thing about Tony Caridi's return to the West Virginia broadcast booth - in fact, the only thing remotely surprising - is that it apparently came without much acrimony or a day in court.
After all, John Raese is a player in all of this, and has that name come up at all in the past few months free of acrimony or legal wrangling?
Yet there it was Monday, the official announcement that the more things change the more they stay the same. While the contentiousness and the legal posturing between Raese's West Virginia Radio Corporation, West Virginia University and its new multimedia partner, IMG, continue unabated, the only thing that really matters to the rank and file of WVU fandom won't change.
Caridi will be behind the microphone when football season begins Aug. 31 and into basketball this winter. He'll host the coaches' shows and even a new project or two initiated by IMG, and he will continue to host the Statewide Sportsline show and be just as involved with other projects on Raese's MetroNews network.
The only surprising part? There was never a point at which he was put in a position of having to make a choice.
"No, there wasn't,'' Caridi said. "That's the God's honest truth.''
For the benefit of the sheltered, here are the nuts and bolts of the situation as it pertains to Caridi. For 30 years he has worked for West Virginia Radio Corporation, owned by Raese. He's essentially been the voice of WVU athletics on two fronts - in his role as a sports personality with West Virginia Radio and MetroNews, and in his position as the school's play-by-play announcer on the Mountaineer Sports Network.
Now to the casual observer, West Virginia Radio and MSN have always seemed one and the same. West Virginia University ran MSN, but essentially did so - at least on the radio side - through West Virginia Radio. The on-air talent, with Caridi and Hoppy Kercheval having the highest profiles, was always pretty much the same.
Then enter Oliver Luck, who pushed the button on what had been long discussed but never acted upon, namely farming out MSN (and so much more) in order to maximize profits. That threatened to end the joined-at-the-hip relationship between MSN and West Virginia Radio.
What has ensued in recent months is the gutter fight between Raese and WVU. Forget the specifics of that for the moment. For purposes of this discussion, it doesn't really matter who is right or wrong. Nor does it matter Raese's intent.
What matters in this is Caridi's position as it pertains to WVU broadcasts. He works for West Virginia Radio. West Virginia Radio profited immensely through its arrangement with (some would say as) MSN. That Caridi would be the face of both was a given.
Ah, but now West Virginia Radio isn't MSN. Now IMG runs MSN. Might it be logical to assume that Raese would want nothing to do with one of his most high-profile employees working for the outfit that he's worked tirelessly to keep at bay?