Musings Of A Mountain Man: September 21, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: September 21, 2011


We will warn you from the start that we are not in a good mood as we write this, just so you know.

All of us who are  Mountaineer fans should be in a great mood this week, considering that the third-ranked LSU Tigers will be in Morgantown to play 16th-ranked WVU Saturday night and that ESPN's GameDay cast will be there to document it via a primetime national telecast.

But no, a little obstacle like the pending collapse of Big East football has intervened and rained on our parade.


SO INSTEAD OF THE FULL-ON positive anticipation the LSU game and the resultant media glare should bring us, that warm and fuzzy feeling is cut at least in half by the oncoming dread we feel that WVU somehow may be left out of a comfortable spot in the impending shuffle of college football conference realignment.

Unlike the storm at this year's Marshall game, we know that if such a lightning bolt strikes the WVU program, it will not be just a delay, but will have long-term ramifications.

In response to all that has happened in the past few days to put WVU and several other successful college athletic programs in this worrisome predicament, we take this opportunity to dole out recognition to those who have made it possible:


THANKS A LOT, BIG EAST COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE, which has spent the past two decades running interference for the league's basketball-only schools at the expense of the football-basketball schools.

Much of the reason this has happened can be found in Providence, Rhode Island, and not only because that is where the league offices are located.

The only three commissioners the Big East has ever had all have come from conference basketball-only member Providence College -- league founder Dave Gavitt, Gavitt's successor Mike Tranghese and current commissioner John Marinatto.

The Big East started as a basketball-only conference and only added football out of necessity to keep original members Syracuse, Boston College and early entry Pitt from leaving to help form an all-sports eastern conference envisioned by Penn State coaching statue Joe Paterno.

Gavitt and his acolytes Tranghese and Marinatto have gone out of their way to keep Big East football at arm's length, even though football has long been the Big East's cash cow.

They resisted football expansion because they didn't want it to dwarf the Providences, Seton Halls and Villanovas of the league.

By doing so, they created a two-headed monster whose interests often were diametrically opposed to each other and made decisions such as football expansion cumbersome, plodding and agenda-driven.

The result was the loss of five of the original football members to the Atlantic Coast Conference -- first Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech, and now Syracuse and Pitt.

Ironically, Gavitt died last Friday, the same day that Syracuse and Pitt announced they had applied to leave the Big East for the ACC.

The moan you hear is Gavitt rolling in his grave.


THANKS A LOT, NOTRE  DAME.  The Fighting Irish could have gone a long way in solving the Big East's football dilemma years ago by joining the football side.

We think it is downright usurious the way Notre Dame has taken advantage of its spot in every other Big East sport other than the one it could have helped the most by its presence.

Of course, the conference domos have never lifted a finger to prod Notre Dame into becoming a football member.

They probably even would have let the Irish keep the money it makes through its lucrative football television contract with NBC, but no dice. Who could blame them? Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

It was pathetic to listen to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick decry the damage Syracuse and Pitt did to the Big East with their jumps to the ACC.

What Swarbrick said was true, but we get the impression that his hypocritical ire is due not to empathy for his conference kin's uncertain future, but to the potential damage the moves might cause to Notre Dame's sweetheart deal with the Big East.


THANKS A LOT, ESPN.  The limelight ESPN has cast over the past three decades has contributed as much as any other entity to making college sports the media leviathan that it has become.

It also has helped create a monolithic dash for cash that has handsomely rewarded a relative few, yet has fostered instability among conferences as they raided other leagues to maximize their own chance to grab a lion's share of the TV dollars and cable subscription fees being waved in front of them,  while leaving others to fight over the scraps.

In fact, it was the negative reaction from Big 12 members to ESPN's and the University of Texas' budding Longhorn Network that triggered the current conference realignment melee that has the Big East staggering.

Speaking of ironies, it was an ESPN media barrage through the 1980s and '90s that made the Big East what it was.

Now the mercenary world it has spawned is leading to the Big East's demise and by the way, ESPN isn't missing a minute of it.

Nice job on the WVU GameDay decision, though.


THANKS A LOT, JOHN SWOFFORD, commissioner and chief assassin of the staid, stuffy, sanctimonious ACC, which has earned top rank among conferences that have allowed naked ambition and greed to circumvent their ethics.

Watching all this unfold makes us want to track down and congratulate anyone who stole Swofford's lunch money in grade or middle school.

We strongly suspect that happened quite a bit to Swofford as a kid and that now he is projecting the same bully behavior on a larger, more cunning scale as an adult. The guy seems to like hurting people through the art of subterfuge.

Let us say at this point that we at least understand the ACC's interest in Syracuse.

The ACC's interest in Pitt is a mystery to us, however.

We can only wonder why a conference with such a high opinion of itself -- one featuring a variety of bucolic and beautiful campus settings -- would dare to involve itself with Pitt.

Pitt is a place where home football games generally feature thousands of people disguised as empty seats and which has its campus flush in the middle of a ghetto reminiscent of one you would see in re-runs of a "Kojak" episode.

Good luck with that one, Swofford.


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