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CHUCK LANDON: More local ties than you might imagine

Mar. 25, 2008 @ 07:33 AM

Hello, Tri-State.

Let's get acquainted, shall we?

Although most area sports fans -- particularly among the Marshall University faithful -- probably have read me on occasion during the 35 years I spent as a sportswriter for a Charleston newspaper, there are some little-known tidbits Tri-State readers might find interesting.

For example, my return to Huntington is much more of a homecoming than people would guess. I actually began my schooling here at old Buffington Elementary, which no longer exists, attending grades 1-3.

Then, my family moved across the Ohio River to Chesapeake for the next six years.

After my father was transferred to Charleston, I returned to Huntington three years later as a freshman at Marshall. My sophomore year, I lived in the dorm with the football players who were killed in the tragic airplane crash that now defines Marshall.

The crash shaped both my life and career.

The sports editor of Marshall 's student newspaper, The Parthenon, also perished in the crash. I was his successor. That put me on the journalistic fast track and after my junior year I declared hardship and turned pro, joining the Charleston Daily Mail at the tender age of 20.

But Huntington, in general, and Marshall, in particular, never were far from my heart or key stroke.

So, now, it is my privilege to return as the new Herald-Dispatch sports columnist. Which means following in the footsteps of such legendary scribes as Duke Ridgley and Ernie Salvatore.

Notice I said follow, not fill. I never would dare to think I could fill the shoes of such icons.

I will do my best, however, to live up to their legacy.

That means writing columns on a variety of subjects, which will entertain, inform and inspire reaction. I am opinionated by nature, which often makes me the target of both assent and dissent.

That goes with the territory. Some people will agree with me, some won't. And that's OK. A sports columnist lives in the neighborhood of public opinion.

But, first, you have to read me before you can agree or disagree. Ah, there's the catch.

And I always will be worth reading. That's a promise.

The subject matter will run the gamut from Marshall to high school to professional sports. If there's a local connection, then it's worth writing about.

That includes West Virginia University.

Although some MU fans are certain to disagree -- geez, we've already had our first difference of opinion -- I don't consider it a betrayal of Marshall if I write about WVU.

If West Virginia is big enough for two NCAA I-A programs, then the H-D sports section is big enough to give both of them coverage.

Just because the newspaper and residents in Morgantown act like they live in a bubble whose boundaries are the city limits, it doesn't mean we have to be just as narrow-minded in Huntington.

Will Marshall still get the lion's share of column space? Of course. But there are WVU fans in the audience, too, and they deserve to read about their Mountaineers on occasion.

If that sounds controversial, then welcome to my column.

I know only one way to tell it. ... like it is.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 526-2759.



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