Since affiliating himself with Chip Ganassi Racing and falling in with Dodge Intrepid crew chief Lee McCall, then something of an unknown, at the start of the 2001 season, Marlin has never been out of the top 10 in the point standings.
Going back to last year, Marlin and McCall have posted eight straight top-10 finishes, either winning or finishing second in five of those races.
That's downright Gordon-esque.
Incidentally, Marlin credited Jeff Gordon with aiding and abetting his win last Sunday at Darlington.
Starting 39th because his crew was forced to switch engines after qualifying, Marlin had moved into position to make hay when a pileup wiped out 14 cars on the 226th lap. Gordon dodged the wreckage and Marlin sneaked through on his bumper.
“Gordon's really good about missing wrecks and I just followed him, “ Marlin said.
By the end, though, as has been the case of late, the good old boys were all following Marlin past the checkered flag.
That job is open for the first time in many years, and WVU has received permission from Cincinnati to pursue the Bearcats' coach for what is sure to be a very stiff price.
We imagine there are mixed emotions in Cincinnati.
On one hand, Huggins built a powerhouse, the premier program in Conference USA and an annual entry in the NCAA Tournament.
On the other hand, his team's virtually non-existent graduation rate has been an embarrassment to those UC supporters who still cling to that silly notion that universities, being academic institutions and all, should insist its athletes pursue degrees.
Wonder where West Virginia's administration stands on that subject.
Carin Koch topped the survey, but turned down the opportunity. The offer then went to Jill McGill, who finished second and, at last check, said she was still thinking it over. The 6-0 blonde might actually end up wearing little more than spikes, a golf glove and a smile.
Move over Jan Stephenson and Laura Baugh. You were considered risque for your time, but times they are a changin'.
IT WAS A FUMBLE!
Dave Hackenberg is a Blade sports writer.
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