October 26, 2011

I’m never going to actually talk about the football game tonight until the liveblog, am I?

In case you hadn’t heard, the move of WVU to the Big 12 — is no longer necessarily a question of when, but maybe not.

Not long after West Virginia University began to slowly spread word of its agreement to join the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday, people began to make calls to say the deal was on hold.

And now, as one WVU official said Wednesday morning, “Who knows?”

WVU learned Tuesday evening the expected announcement to join the Big 12 was being delayed and that Louisville, which would be one of five football schools the Mountaineers would leave behind in the depleted Big East Conference, began to exert pressure on the Big 12 to consider the Cardinals instead of WVU.

The Mountaineers may now have to wait until the Big 12 board meets again Monday to perhaps decide whether the conference will accept WVU or Louisville.

This is absolutely, bat shit crazy. And we also have our first sighting of possible political interference.

From the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a certain Senator has been making calls.

Two people with direct knowledge of the situation said that lobbying by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, including to David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator, helped slow West Virginia’s admittance to the Big 12.

West Virginia officials, who called the deal “solid” late Tuesday afternoon, declined comment Wednesday.

“I think it’s 50-50 right now between West Virginia and Louisville,” one of the people with direct knowledge said. The other added that it was “too close to call.”

Who knows what will ultimately happen, but if somehow Louisville gets in and West Virginia is left in the Big East, I can guarantee that every anti-Republican ad in West Virginia from the President to podunk city dogcatcher will begin, “The party of Mitch McConnell…”

Frankly, I’m amazed that the political meddling has happened this late. The genius of the surprise move of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC, is that grandstanding politicians in New Jersey and Connecticut were caught too flat-footed to make any waves. It’s all after the fact, pleading.

Back to the issue of WVU or Louisville. This strikes me as a Texas-style snafu. Texas has been the one to leak every potential member, or more precisely who they want in the Big 12. From Pitt to BYU to Arkansas. They were forced to swallow hard and accept TCU, but seemed to get the concession of staying at 10 members. At least until Mizzou began its slow move to the SEC.

The choice of WVU was driven by Texas. They seemed more enamored of the football success of WVU over market size, geography, travel issues, etc. Up until late last week, the feeling had been stronger that Louisville was the top choice. And it would seem that for a significant minority (at least 3 to 4) of the 8 schools that can vote — Mizzou isn’t participating and TCU isn’t allowed yet — they still are. This smacks of another inter-conference battle with Texas and Oklahoma going at it once more.

The impasse has things on hold. Showing that you can boot the conference commissioner, but when there are egos and competing interests, dysfunction remains. WVU and Louisville will be sweating this one out for at least a week.

Not that there is much that the Big East conference can say or do at this point. I’m not even sure they bothered to tell John Marinatto about the lastest. Honestly, if I’m the Big East, I’m on the phone with Navy and Air Force. Begging them to make the quick decision to join to raise the exit fee to $10 million before the Big 12 final choice. Hell offer them each and extra million off the top of the exit fee as an incentive.

In related matters, Notre Dame still has a decision to make. The drumbeat seems to be that Notre Dame may be closer to completely joining a conference since their 1999 decision not to go Big 10. They really only have 3 choices: Join ACC or Big 10 completely, rebuild Big East and deal with it, or join Big 12 in all but football., not surprisingly, is claiming that the last choice is the most likely. Unmentioned is that the Big 12 does not offer a place for all of ND’s sports. Lacrosse and Soccer would still have to find a place. Definitely a minor issue, but the fit isn’t nearly as neat as the article pretends. It also adds a laugher as you realize how much this is closer to wishful thinking.

If Notre Dame does make such a move, it is being proposed that the Irish would remain independent in football but begin playing up to six football games against Big 12 competition. has reported that Texas would love to replace Texas A&M on Thanksgiving with Notre Dame, if possible. That still may be a bit of a longshot.

One high-ranking official at a Big 12 school holds out the hope that if Notre Dame moves its non-football sports into the Big 12 it would be a “segue to full conference membership in a year or two – about the time the first tier TV rights (held by ABC/ESPN) are negotiated.

Six Big 12 games? Really? Plenty of wiggle room with the qualifier, “up to” but get real. That never happens. Not unless most of the games are 3 or 4 for 1 home game series. I just don’t see the Irish making periodic visits to Ames, Manhattan, Lawrence, Waco, Stillwater and Lubbock.

An ex-ND AD — who also happens to be an ex-ACC Commissioner — Gene Corrigan thinks it is more likely that ND is thinking ACC this time.

That article also strikes me as a bit of wishful spinning. I think ND’s administration knows they have to join a conference some point sooner than they would like. I don’t think it’s clear whether it would be the Big 10 or ACC.

I also think the biggest issue stopping the decision is that the ND administration knows that most of the alumni are still unwilling/unready for the move. They are a lot closer than they were in 1999 — and that was closer than edpected. Too many donors/alum with too much money and power are still opposed. There aren’t enough people in the athletic department and the school itself willing to put their own jobs on the line and make the move. No, I still maintain that ND won’t make the move until they are backed all the way into the corner.

This is awesome. Something about WVU getting snubbed makes me all warm and tingly on the inside…or maybe that’s just the rum.

Comment by Yeti 10.26.11 @ 2:52 pm

Boy Chas, you are a smart boy. You always know what you speak.

ND will remain independent as long as it can get its own media contract.

It is all about money.

Since it is ND they can play anyone in any sport WITHOUT belonging to any conference.

They happen to like hanging with the other Catholic schools. That’s the only reason they joined the Big East. It certainly wasn’t because of geography.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 10.26.11 @ 3:08 pm

So how’s that “occupy Heinz Field” thing coming down in hoopieville?? Talk about bad karma!

Comment by Dan 72 10.26.11 @ 3:11 pm

Rockefellers and WVU Senate Seat is getting involved per Kercheval on Finebaum’s show.

Comment by Freebird 10.26.11 @ 3:14 pm

I would go that far. For football, absolutely. Their basketball profile benefits immensely from BE competition (men’s and women’s) and they benefit from conference play for it’s other Olympic sports. For basketball they need a conference for legitimacy — especially recruiting.

BE gave them premiere basketball conference at no cost to their football independence. That’s a good deal for them, but as you can see not so good for the rest of the BE (especially football programs). I suppose technically they could go independent in hoops, but good luck scheduling and gaining a shot at the NCAA tourney — it’s either that or a mid to lower tier basketball conference (not to mention other sports). the other Catholic BE schools don’t make for such an impressive bball conference either — only Gtown & Nova carry any weight (Marquette and St Johns have been inconsistent)

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 10.26.11 @ 3:21 pm

I would NOT go that far…

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 10.26.11 @ 3:22 pm

I love this circus. And, I love even more how WVU keeps getting dissed. Muahahahaha!

Comment by Digdug(Formerly Dugdog) 10.26.11 @ 3:26 pm

Manchin and Rockefeller risk their seats if they don’t push back hard. I expect WVU to be a part of the Big 12, even if the Big 12 is forced to take Louisville and another school (BYU?) to calm down the power abuser from Kentucky.

Comment by The Truth 10.26.11 @ 3:36 pm

What am I missing here? With the loss of Texas A&M and Missouri, wouldn’t the Big XII need TWO teams to make it back to 10 members? Why wouldn’t the Big XII take both WVU and Louisville? Really, the one getting screwed here is Cincinnati, since they’ll never get in the Big XII, B1G, or the ACC.

I gotta agree with Yeti, though. This is hilarious.

Oh, and Hail to Pitt, beat UConn!

Comment by Lee in Altoona 10.26.11 @ 3:39 pm

If its the rum, the tailgate has begun early today. Cheers to that.

Comment by TX Panther 10.26.11 @ 3:45 pm

Wait, I forgot TCU! TCU is the ninth member of the new Big XII. So if the Big XII is only going to 10 members, they can’t take both WVU and Louisville.

Oh, this is good… I hate both WVU and Louisville, and they both can’t win!

Comment by Lee in Altoona 10.26.11 @ 3:48 pm

Hey but wait, doesn’t El Duce Ricky boy want to stay in the BigEast so he makes his yearly sojourn to MSG. You know he was so livid at Pitt and Nordy and to a lesser extent Syracuse for bolting the conf.

Pitino in Ames, Lubbuck, Waco & other Big 12 stops in those all white suits. He’ll have to bring his own Fettuccine. Mama Mia !!


Comment by EMel 10.26.11 @ 4:00 pm

He’ll have to learn to like Tex Mex and BBQ then. There isn’t a good pizza or pasta to be found in the entire Plains. The Big 12 tourney is typically held in KC each year. KC is one dull town.

Comment by TX Panther 10.26.11 @ 4:14 pm

So one would conclude people in the Plains think Pizza Hut or Domino’s is really good pizza. Nice.

El Duce doesn’t do Tex Mex or BBQ, those stains are too hard to get off White Suits.

Comment by EMel 10.26.11 @ 4:33 pm

One would think Jay Rockefeller being a Democrat would be better friends with former Democratic Senator and Skull & Bonesmen David Boren of OU, than Republican Mitch McConnell.

Of course that is based on actually believing the D or the R behind their names actually means something.

The ACC along with PITT & Siracusa were smart in doing a weekend deal. The dopes in Congress were out to lunch or tooling around on the Potomac.
It was a done deal before the dopes knew what hit them. Swofford would make an excellent leader of the Free World.

Comment by EMel 10.26.11 @ 4:43 pm

Are we still using that phrase, ‘Free World’?

What with China being part of the Global economy, their citizens are hardly free.

But hey, Americans love buying Iphones, Ipads and all the other cheap slave labour produced goods they manufacture.

Comment by EMel 10.26.11 @ 4:47 pm

Big 12 could keep its namesake and take WVU, LU and Cinci, but that’s probably not too attractive either. I like that option, since it forces many hands and gives us a better chance of < 27 month out.

BE trying to attract members is like a land developer trying to sell houses to prospective buyers who already know about the hog rendering plant being built next door and set to operate within 2 years.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 10.26.11 @ 4:48 pm

While most are salivating at the fall of WVU…I actually am loving it for a different reason. The basketball schools are toast.

They created this and now it’s imploding on them.

Smizik talks about Tranghese’s intelligence and how the Big East was doomed from the outset.

Wrong. They were reactive not proactive an that is why they are dead. They wanted to keep their little basketball heaven and that is the only reason they threw an occasional bone at the football schools.

All you have to do is look at Depaul and understand why the Big East is going to die.


Comment by DaveD 10.26.11 @ 4:58 pm

I wonder what Pitino has to say about this?

Comment by Dallas Panther 10.26.11 @ 4:59 pm

I am pissed some one go some were so we can be done with this .


I want to go to the SEC no i want to stay in big 12.

hell every one of them is allmost as f ked up as the big east.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.26.11 @ 5:33 pm

So, the winner of the Louisville/West Virginia game next week gets the Big 12 invite?

Comment by Panthoor 10.26.11 @ 5:46 pm

That’s why it’s wise to keep your mouth shut until it’s a done deal. The Pitt Syracuse move to the ACC was done quietly behind closed doors and when it agreed on, the announcement was made. It appears that after the reports about West Virginia getting the invitation appeared, Louisville and their supporters went into a full court press, to tie it up and put the decision into overtime.

Comment by Justinian 10.26.11 @ 6:07 pm

It appears that Pitino has no say, because he want to stay in the Big East. He loves going to New York and Madison Square Garden and he’s advocating that Memphis and Temple be added to the Big East immediately, over the objections of Villanova.

Comment by Justinian 10.26.11 @ 6:12 pm

Let Pitino go back to Providence .. he’s way overdue to jump jobs anyway

Comment by wbb 10.26.11 @ 6:51 pm

The only reason i would like to see louisville go insted of WVU is to screw with Pitino.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.26.11 @ 8:03 pm

Here is a question I have yet to see asked or answered..

Why does Port have to wait 27 months to leave for the ACC? Because of a Big East by-law? PITT has decided to leave the Big East. Why do they care about a by-law of a conference they are leaving behind? What can the Big East do? Sue PITT?
Big deal. While the lawsuit is winding its way through the courts PITT can be playing several seasons in the ACC.
Even if the big east prevails, what kind of damages can they claim? The conference is crumbling around them. How much damages does PITT leaving early really amount to?

Comment by BMAN 10.26.11 @ 10:21 pm

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