Coal Bowl spawns a Bowers reunion
HUNTINGTON -- Some people sport the "House Divided" license plate, others might have conflicting logos on the backs of their cars. But, Grandpa Bowers, he gets the vote for most creative pro-Marshall/pro-West Virginia attire.
"We got him a hat that he can flip around," Chris Bowers said. "Since me and Cole are both on offense, when Marshall's on offense he has the green hat forward. When WVU's on offense, he's got the yellow hat forward.
"He looks pretty goofy in it."
Goofy but totally loyal, Grandpa Bowers will be cheering for both sides Friday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium -- aka the de-facto site of the 2010 Bowers family reunion.
Chris Bowers is a 6-foot-2, 287-pound redshirt sophomore offensive lineman for the Marshall Thundering Herd. Cole Bowers is a 6-5, 289-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Mountaineers. They're cousins, best friends and former Cabell Midland High School teammates.
They also have blood that runs deep in green and white as well as blue and gold.
"It's great to have the competition between the state schools like this," Chris Bowers said. "It makes it even better for me considering I have one of my best friends and cousins on the other team."
Ditto for Cole.
"I'm looking forward to it," Cole Bowers said. "I'm just excited to come home and see my cousin, Chris. And be in my hometown and be able to play some football."
In last week's 31-0 WVU win over Coastal Carolina, Cole Bowers left because of a sprained knee injury, which could limit his playing time Friday.
But it won't limit his experience.
"I'm definitely excited," he said. "Because it's like a once in a lifetime kind of thing. Well, maybe not once, but it's the first time (against Chris).
"And I'll always remember playing on the same college football field with my cousin. It'll be exciting. We'll get our picture taken and what not.
"It'll be an exciting day."
Unfortunately, the Bowers boys former coach, Midland's Chip McMillian, will be out scouting Friday night for future opponents.
But don't think we won't be thinking about his past players.
"Any time you have two kids playing at the Division I level who played together on the same offensive line in high school, it's a special moment," McMillian said. "Not only for them and their families, but also for Cabell Midland High School.
"We're very proud."
McMillian knew he had two talented players before the Bowerses even strapped on a Knights uniform.
He just had to peek at their fathers.
Especially Chris' old man, Rob, a former Marshall offensive tackle.
"As my grandfather used to say, they both come from good stock," McMillian said. "Both their dads are great big 'ole guys...
"The thing they have in common is they're both extremely intelligent. They're not only good students, they're good students of the game. They understand the game."
And, at least on one side, they fully understand the Marshall-West Virginia rivalry.
Chris Bowers seems a tad bit more thirsty for family and state bragging rights.
"It'll be the first time in Marshall history," Chris Bowers said, foreseeing a Herd victory. "It'll be unbelievable. I can't think of any game that I want to win more. ... The WVU game, it's not even obtainable, it's probable that we'll give them a good game.
"It's going to be a great, great weekend, but I want to win so bad."
Cole Bowers is taking a similar angle. But it's not a family war to him. Rather, it's simply the team he plays for against the team his cousin plays for.
"I don't even think bragging rights have anything to do with it," Cole Bowers said. "We're just going to the game ... As far as me and Chris, I don't think that has anything to do with it.
"I look at it as a state pride thing -- like as the whole team."
What about Team Bowers? Its almost guaranteed they'll win regardless of Friday's result.
"For 60 minutes, we're going to be enemies," Chris Bowers said. "But as soon as that game's over, I'm going to walk over and shake his hand and give him a hug -- no matter how it turns out."