If you’re new to the game, well, this Big 12 making news has been unstable for years.
Sure, the impending exit of Texas and Oklahoma is the proverbial icing, but think back. In case you’ve forgotten, in June of 2015, Oklahoma president David Boren kicked off an 18-month run of uncertainty by saying he believed the conference was “psychologically disadvantaged” because of its smaller size.
He wanted to expand to 12 teams and, eventually, interviews were conducted and then, to the embarrassment of all involved, the course was reversed to stay at 10.
It’s been a theme. Behind the scenes Texas officials have long badmouthed the league. And, really, there have been some legitimate reasons. Aside from OU and Texas, very few highly recruited football players have populated the other Big 12 rosters. (And let’s face it, this is all about football.) As a result of that, the conference has been embarrassed at times when it comes to NFL draft picks. Back in 2017 I wrote that “in case you weren’t on Twitter over the weekend – as surely every upper-level football recruit was – the Big 12 was absolutely pancaked for having only 14 players taken by NFL teams. (And that was after a seventh-round flurry of four picks.)”
Yet, yes, Texas as an athletic department is a diva. Ditto that of Oklahoma. The Longhorns have more money than God. OU is right behind them. Nothing was changing there. And both had much, much easier paths to College Football Playoff berths in the Big 12. (Side note: SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was a rat to steer the CFP toward 12 teams with UT and OU in mind. Were it to stay at four or even just eight, the two schools would still find it more difficult making the field than being in the Big 12. It was a pure power play.)
Anyway, what’s the deal with WVU, you ma ask?
Well, obviously officials are writing love letters to the ACC via releases, explaining how the school has elevated its academic standing. And for the sake of the Mountaineer faithful, let’s hope those within the ACC and media do a little investigating to see how things really have changed in Morgantown. Let’s hope neither entity is lazy and relies on old information.
But here’s what West Virginia University fans need to understand:
More than likely this is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint. (I apologize for the cliché, but it fits here and my air conditioner isn’t working well.)
I’ve received input from folks I trust and I can assure you WVU’s experienced athletic administrators are spending all their time working to position the department and school in the best possible way.
Understand also there are many variables involved. Sure, relationships will play a part in WVU’s future. But which relationships? There are school officials. There are conference executives. There are network officials. On and on it goes.
Also, WVU officials not only have to educate those (allegedly) in the education field, but get flexible. They have to prepare to act depending on what options ultimately appear.
Last, I’d suggest following the dollars. That’s why this may turn into a marathon for WVU.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is going to be about geography or competitive fit. It’s about what a school can bring to the table in revenue to justify a move. Period.
What I can’t answer is whether WVU can do so for the ACC.
It may be no. But then again it may be yes. Don’t assume. WVU can certainly help fill ACC stadiums.
Horns down to UT (and OU) for helping draft the Big 12’s grant of rights regulations, pretending to be a good partner while negotiating an exit and then bolting. Horns down as well to Sankey. The SEC just blew up college football tradition for good.
And for WVU fans, well, patience and faith will be key, my friends. As we all follow the money.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.