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Only in 2020.

It couldn’t have, wouldn’t have happened in any other year.

The odds are incalculable.

Just consider this improbable scenario.

There are two colleges in opposite ends of a state, who don’t particularly like each other, don’t play each other in athletics, have opposing fan bases who basically detest each other and do little more than co-exist within geographic boundaries.

Their names?

I think everybody already guessed.

It’s West Virginia University and Marshall University.

Surprise, surprise.

Well, ironically, there really is a surprise. Despite all their dislikes, differences and diffidence, suddenly and inexplicably WVU and Marshall’s football programs actually have been akin to fraternal twins during the last month.

It has been spooky. It has been eerie. It has been bewildering. But it also has been true.

The similarities between WVU and Marshall have been staggering in recent weeks.

It all began when Marshall’s game against Charlotte scheduled for November 21 was postponed to December 11. That set the wheels of improbability into motion. During the same week, WVU’s home game vs. Oklahoma was postponed to Dec. 12.


Maybe. Maybe not.

That sent both WVU and Marshall into a 20-day hiatus running, interestingly enough, from the identical dates of Nov. 15 to Dec. 5. So, the only two FBS members in the Mountain State were shutdown for the exact same period of time.

Ironic, huh?

Wait, it gets better.

Both WVU and Marshall came out of that lengthy break seemingly the worse for wear, mentally and physically. As a result, they both got their collective heads handed to them on the same Saturday.

Nationally ranked Marshall suffered an inexplicable 20-0 loss to Rice in Joan C. Edwards, marking the first time the Thundering Herd had been shutout in that stadium in its 30-year history.

And WVU? The Mountaineers barely showed up for a 42-6 beatdown at the hands of Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

The similarities don’t end there, either. Neither Marshall nor WVU scored a touchdown in those defeats. So, they both were flat on the same Saturday.

Now, let’s continue on to this week.

On Wednesday, Marshall announced the rescheduled game against Charlotte had been cancelled “due to injuries and a lack of available Thundering Herd scholarship student-athletes at key positions.”

And what happened the very next day? What else? WVU announced the rescheduled game against Oklahoma had been cancelled.

“Due to a surge of positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing within the football program,” said a release, “West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and WVU’s medical officials have paused all football activities, including workouts and games, for the next seven days.”

I have seen identical twins that didn’t resemble each other this much.

For nearly the last 30 days, WVU and Marshall have been two of a kind. Can anybody else ever contemplate this disturbance in the force?

Only in 2020.

This COVID-19 season seems to have defied all the natural laws of nature. WVU and Marshall’s football programs have nearly identical circumstances for an extended period of time.

What’s next, lions laying with lambs?

I mean, WVU and MU always have been joined geographically, but, perhaps, for the first time ever, now, WVU and MU have been joined at the hip.

Which brings us to bowl games.

Perhaps, WVU could play Marshall in the “Isn’t It Ironic?” bowl.

Works for me.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at

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