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Chuck Landon: 'Hand-Shake Gate' heats up WVU, MU rivalry

Sep. 23, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

Welcome to "Hand-Shake Gate."

In Wednesday's column, I wrote that West Virginia University head football coach Bill Stewart didn't shake hands with Marshall coach Doc Holliday after the Mountaineers' 24-21 overtime win on Sept. 10.

So, Stewart telephoned Wednesday to vehemently deny that.

"You said the quote in the Beckley paper was false," said Stewart. "It wasn't false. I did shake Doc's hand.

"It's true that I didn't meet him at midfield. Noel Devine had me around the neck and I didn't make it out to midfield. But I shook Doc's hand right before I went into the (Shewey) building.

"His strength coach (Frank Piraino) was there with Doc. I shook JaJuan Seider's hand, too, and I think Tony Petersen's. I looked for Bill Legg, but I couldn't find him.

"I want a retraction because I did shake hands with Doc."

There's just one problem.

Holliday is just as adamant as Stewart on this subject.

"You know the truth," said Holliday, after learning about Stewart's assertion during the telephone call. "He didn't shake my hand.

"I was walking toward the Shewey Building with Frank (Piraino) and Stewart slapped my hand as he ran by. That's not a hand-shake in my book."

It doesn't appear "Hand-Shake Gate" is going away anytime soon.

CARRY ON, MARTIN: No running back ever gets enough carries. At least, not in their mind.

And Marshall's Martin Ward is no different.

With one exception.

The sophomore running back refuses to complain about getting only 10.3 carries per game.

"Well, yeah, I'd like to have more carries," said Ward, who shares the position and carries with Andre Booker (7.3 carries per game.) "Eighteen carries out of the running back position isn't very many. No, it's not.

"But actually it's on us. We have to execute. So, that's what we do. ... we take advantage of our opportunities. It's not like we want to be greedy with the ball. When they give us the ball, we're going to show what we can do."

That's what both Ward and Booker plan to do when Marshall hosts Ohio at 7 p.m., Saturday, in Edwards Stadium. Their goal is simple. ... be productive.

"Our goal is to average 4 or 5 yards a carry," said Ward, a 5-foot-9, 201-pound sophomore. "When we hit a play like 'Book' hits (a 68-yard touchdown run against Bowling Green), we call those 'home run hits.' That's what he can do. He's good at that.

"I'm in between the tackles. I'm going to get the first downs, the third downs, the short yardage. If the hole is open, I'm going to hit it."

But, first, he has to have enough carries.

"Oh, yeah," said Ward with a grin. "I'm not going to say I'm OK with my carries, but I'm going to be a team player. It's what the team wants and needs.

"I'm not going to be like, 'Hey, Coach, gimme the ball, gimme the ball.' I'm not going to be greedy and I'm not going to be upset. Whatever coach presents us with, that's what we're going to do.

"If he chooses to give us the ball more, we're going to keep rolling. I guess from the first game. ... what, five to seven carries? It's added on each week.

"So, hopefully, we get this thing rolling and get our offense connected and we can be rollin'. ... oh, 25 to 30 carries."

A balanced attack and balanced comments.

That's how it should be.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. E-mail him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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