I'VE KNOWN Oliver Luck for 30 years. I've watched him as a football player and as a businessman in athletics. I've admired his work in both worlds.
That's why every bone in my body and every neuron in my brain screams that he's the perfect hire as the new West Virginia University athletic director.
He's a smart man. He's a likeable man. He's a respected man.
Oliver Luck is a winner.
WVU president Jim Clements not only hit a home run with the hire, he knocked the cover off the ball.
Mountaineer fans can consider themselves fortunate to have Luck on board. Indeed, yes, a bit lucky. He did not need to leave the trappings of Houston and his perch as president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo soccer franchise.
He chose to do so because of his love for his alma mater. It's a great story. And, hey, if you're talking about the long run, he should be a strong marathon man the likes of Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit, Frank Shorter, Marty Liquori and Mary Decker Slaney.
The lone concern for WVU fans should be the short run. Because, yes, the hire was terrific. But conference realignment is happening now. Today. Yesterday. Colorado accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10 on Thursday. Nebraska is in line to join the Big Ten today.
"And once that first pitch is thrown ...'' said outgoing Mountaineer athletic director Ed Pastilong.
Indeed, there will be a barrage. It's a critical time for WVU. And, although Luck said he would be in Morgantown frequently, he won't officially begin until July 1. Pastilong is, in effect, a lame duck, even though he'll serve as AD emeritus through 2012.
On Thursday, Pastilong was asked if he's been contacted in regard to realignment.
"No,'' he said. "Nothing has hit my desk.''
We'll soon find out how much hits the fan. And how fast it does so. And where WVU fits.
With that in mind, I asked Luck about his contacts within college athletics. As Clements said, "Oliver is a tremendous networker and a people person and has no problem making friends very, very quickly.''
As the situation stands, however, Luck needs to make friends like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future - retroactively.