Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Looking Forward to the Big 12

Trips to New Jersey and Connecticut will now be replaced with trips to Texas and Oklahoma if the news of WVU heading to the Big 12 is true. I, for one an excited about the new step for the Mountaineers, and look forward to those trips to the heartland and south.

WVU's football program should fit in well. They will be competitive wherever you put them, and let's not forget the last time they played a team from the Big 12 it was in the Fiesta Bowl...a game I'm sure Oklahoma fans would like to forget (Yes, I know WVU played Colorado twice, but they are gone). Sure, a lot has changed since then, but the fact that WVU is 2-0 in BCS games, shows they will not back down to anyone.

Dana Holgorsen also has some serious connections in the Big 12 world. Holgorsen has been on staffs at both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, where you can still see plenty of his influence. He also knows the recruiting grounds of the conference, which should help expand WVU's recruiting base. Holgs has already been able to snag players like Dustin Garrison and Paul Millard, so we'll see if it continues.

Basketball is a different story. There is the chance for WVU to roll right in and be a major conference player. Not that football can't be that, but this is a Mountaineer basketball program that has been one of the more consistent performers recently. Since 2005, WVU has been to four Sweet 16's, one resulting in a trip to the Final Four, and an NIT Championship in the only year they missed the Tournament. There's no doubt this program will remain competitive with Bob Huggins at the helm.

As for the Women's team, Mike Carey continues to get premier talent, and has been a serious player in the Big East for the past decade. Look for the Lady Mounties to continue to stay competitive in another deep conference.

The Mountaineer Women's Soccer program will be a team to beat yearly in the Big 12 as well. The perennial Big East power will join a deep conference that has five teams in the RPI Top-50. WVU (26th in RPI) should make an immediate impact in the conference, the bigger question is what will happen to the Men's team? The Big 12 doesn't have Men's soccer. Maybe an invite to Conference USA?

The Olympic sports will be in for some great competition as well. The Big 12 is very strong in practically all of them, and should only help the WVU compete level. This is certainly an exciting time for Mountaineer athletics, and things will be looking differently soon enough.

As for the Big East, I will say that it is sad to see the conference dying. There's not much better in sports than the Big East Championship at the Garden in March every year. It's hard to believe that the event may be close to death. Sadly, the Big East brass just wasn't up to the task of understanding how important the football side was. As we all know football is King, but not to certain individuals in Newport, RI. I can't but think this all could have been avoided, but WVU had to lookout for its own interests...and the Big East is just too unstable.

Okay, I'm ready to mess with Texas!

Conference Realignment 2011: New York Post Says WVU on the Way to Big 12

Well, here is the news that West Virginia fans have been waiting for...if true.

The New York Post is reporting that WVU is set to replace Missouri, when the Tigers eventually head out to the SEC. The Post article goes on to say.
The Big 12 held a board of directors meeting yesterday, and a source said the league's plan is to hold on to Missouri, which wants to leave for the SEC, for one more year then replace it with West Virginia.
This is huge news for WVU fans that have been destroying the Internet to find realignment info for the past two months, ever since Syracuse and Pitt announced a move to the ACC. The Mountaineer faithful's first choice seemed to be the SEC, but the Big 12 became an attractive locale since Texas and Oklahoma decided to stick around.

WVU will fit in well athletically. The Mountaineers have solid football and basketball programs that should be competitive right away. The soccer teams might dominate the league, and the Olympic sports should show well also.

The biggest hurdle will certainly be the travel. The closest school right now is over 800 miles away, but this is the direction we are going in now. Don't forget, Boise State may be in the new Big East.

With WVU seemingly on the way out, it will be interesting to see what happens to the football version of the Big East. Rutgers and UConn are still waiting for the ACC to call, and Louisville and Cincinnati will certainly be hoping that the Big 12 goes back to "12" teams. The future of the Big East just continues to get more and more dire. I guess that proactive approach didn't pay off.

UPDATE: Multiple sources are now reporting that WVU is headed to the Big 12. Brett McMurphy from CBS, who has been all over realignment just tweeted this...

: West Virginia to Big 12 w/in 24-48 hours after Missouri withdraws from Big 12, sources tell bit.ly/vPPq77

Very telling news right there.

MORE UPDATES: Pete Thamel of the New York Times writes that a source with direct knowledge of the situation says WVU has "applied and are accepted" to the Big 12.

Thamel also writes that the Big 12 is planning to stay at 10 teams...for now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette just tweeted this....

: Confirmed. WVU to Big 12 is a done deal. There will be a press conference with the Big 12 folks tomorrow.

And that might do it folks.

Conference Realignment 2011: Missouri Still in the Big 12...For Now

The conference waiting game continues for West Virginia, following the news Monday night that Missouri has yet to withdrawal or decide to stay in the Big 12. Interim Conference Commish, Chuck Nienes spoke to the Kansas City Star, saying
Missouri did no submit a letter of conditional withdrawal nor did it notify the conference on Monday of plans to leave.
The Big 12 Board of Directors met on Monday, and the hope for everyone in the entire universe was that Missouri would end this national nightmare. However, the wait continues for basically every school associated with the Big 12, SEC, and Big East. Missouri still seems to hold the fate of WVU, Louisville, Cincinnati, and possibly BYU as well. If they go, then a whole new round of debate begins about which one of these teams is best suited to fill Mizzou's void.

However, it may be a moot point if the Big 12 does decide to go 12 teams. In the scenario, it seems likely that WVU and Louisville would both be heading out of the Big East. And, if Missouri is gone, Cincy or BYU could be that final team.

If Missouri stays, then look for the WVU to SEC rumors to fire back up, which will really be good for nobody. Even though it makes sense, there hasn't been any concrete evidence that the SEC is a huge fan of bringing the Mountaineers in.

So, again a big thanks to Missouri for keeping the ridiculousness of conference realignment alive by holding out as long as humanly possible, and completely messing with the fate of half the country.

Former Mountaineers in the NFL, Week 7

PacMan Jones: Bengals were on a bye. He is off the PUP.

Ellis Lankster, CB, Jets: Registered two tackles for the Jets in a win over San Diego.

Pat McAfee, P, Colts: Six punts averaging over 46 yards per, in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Corey McIntyre, FB, Bills: Bye Week for the Bills.

Ryan Mundy, FS, Steelers: Registered one tackle in win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Chris Neild, NT, Redskins: Didn't register any stats in loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Robert Sands, FS, Bengals: Bye Week for the Bengals.

Owen Schmitt, FB, Eagles: Bye Week for the Eagles.

Steve Slaton, RB, Dolphins: With everyone healthy, Slaton was inactive Sunday against the FIghting Tebows.


Brandon Hogan: Still technically on the PUP, but has begun to practice.

J.T. Thomas: Injured Reserve