Q&A: West Virginia AD Oliver Luck

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
10:30
AM ET
Oliver Luck is going to be watching a lot of football this fall. On top of following his Mountaineers, the West Virginia athletic director will be a part of the first College Football Playoff committee. On top of all that, his son, Andrew, will be quarterbacking the Indianapolis Colts on Sundays.

"I'm sure I'll be sitting there watching the Colts game on Sunday with college football on my iPad," Luck said.

Luck spoke with ESPN.com at length a couple of weeks ago about an array of topics, including the College Football Playoff, the future of the program and coach Dana Holgorsen and the possibility of placing Pitt back on the schedule, which led to stories that have already been published.

Below are a few highlights from the rest of that interview, in which Luck discusses his football scheduling method, Big 12 expansion and how he thinks the league will fare in the playoff era:

Do you feel like the nine conference games will enhance the Big 12 in the playoff era, and conversely, not having a championship game, could that hurt the league?

Luck: Number one, I think the Big 12 schedule with 10 is ideal. I think it's perfect, quite honestly. You play everybody. That's a tough schedule, because it's a tough conference. Number two, one of our factors is there is value in being a conference champion. Sometimes people mistake that for a conference championship game. Whoever comes out of the Big Ten conference championship game should get the same value for being a conference champ as the Big 12 conference champ. It's a different mechanism clearly. I like the nine games, some other conferences do it. The Pac-12 is doing it, largely because they had so much success with nine conference games when they were at 10. They recognize the value of it. Others aren't doing it. Everyone is going to watch and see the first two-three years of the playoff to see what makes the most sense. I think it's a great experiment to see which of these five conferences are better off come Year 3 or 4.

As you told ESPN.com, there's been no discussion among Big 12 officials about expanding. But let's say the Big 12 didn't get a team in the playoff over three years. Would that be the impetus that would get the league to rethink expansion?

Luck: It's a good question. If a Big 12 team doesn't get in the four over a three- or four-year period, I think you have to look and see why. Is it because you don't have a conference championship game? Is it because somebody keeps getting knocked off? I think we'll have to wait and see. But I'm not sure I can answer that question. I think 10 is a good number. I think our football and men's and women's basketball schedules are perfect, because you play everyone. I think that's strong, I really do. I love the "One True Champion" mantra the conference is using because it's true. One of the challenges will be not to overreact in Year 1 or 2. You want to make sure the sample size is big enough before you make any serious changes.

With Alabama and Maryland on the slate, do you feel like strength of schedule in the nonconference is going to be an important component of the playoff?

Luck: It's a tough schedule. I would say this, it's sort of an honor to play Alabama nonconference. Not many people have that opportunity. Nick Saban, a native West Virginian. That was something we jumped at because it's fun. Our kids love playing in pro stadiums, and it's kind of a different thing. I'm looking forward to that. It's a tall task. But it's also part of the overall change of trying to upgrade our nonconference schedule. I think that's going to be important. That's one of the first things we'll look at as a committee. Maryland is good, they thumped us last year in a rainstorm. Towson was the FCS national title runner-up. They're a quality team. But I really think the college schedules across the country are all going to be strengthened. TV likes that. We certainly can't ignore TV because it's an important factor in all the things we do. It's going to be important in the playoff. Imagine two 13-0 teams. SEC champ, Big Ten champ, gone through a tough schedule. The first thing I'll think to look at is strength of schedule, what's your signature victory, was it a road victory? I think those things will very possibly matter significantly at the end of the year when we'll be making these decisions.

One thing Holgorsen mentioned after last season was he wanted to see the facilities improved. Do you have any update on ways West Virginia is planning to improve its facilities?

Luck: He is very interested, as he should be, in the facilities that affect players. The things that affect student athletes. We had a team room, that was the original team room, it didn't seat everybody, which is a challenge when you have a team of a 110 and there are only 90-95 seats. It needed a serious upgrade. So we're building a new team room. We've raised about $5 million. We will soon start construction at some point this summer. That was very important to Dana. We're taking the old team room and creating some additional office space. We had some coaches meeting rooms, position meeting rooms that quite honestly were as small as closets. We're changing that. We finished a pretty substantial $2-and-half million or so weight room renovation about a year ago, so that's all up-and-running. There's a bunch of other stuff we're doing at the football stadium, but that's more in the concourse area, concessions, restrooms, things that really won't affect the team that much. Our facilities are good, but just as the Big 12 competition is stiff on the field and on the court, there's also some stiff competition in terms of facilities. So I think as we got into the conference, and this is true of all the sports as much as football, we looked around at what Oklahoma or Texas or Oklahoma State or Texas Tech or whatever have been doing or are doing or already have in place, and we realize we have some things to work on there as well. We've overall announced about a $100 million worth of capital investment, and the majority of that will go into the stadium and the coliseum. But a not insignificant portion of that will be put into the Puskar building, which is where the football team operates.

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