From the Cheap Seats: A Case of Realignment Nerves - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From the Cheap Seats: A Case of Realignment Nerves

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The Mountaineers are on the road for a couple of weeks, so we don't have to worry about filling Milan Puskar Stadium.  The lack of home games will allow us to go back to losing sleep over our conference future.            

The rampant speculation over what will happen to us has continued, but still, there's not much official information.  Unofficially, fans and university officials are nervous.            

The big question is, will that nervousness drive our decision making?  Since the realignment discussion began, our options have dwindled.  The ACC's been out for awhile.  Talk of the SEC has dropped to a low whisper.  That leaves the Big 12 and whatever becomes of the Big East.            

Until something, like Missouri finally making the jump to the SEC happens, we're looking at staying where we are.  So today, that's: us, Cincinnati, UCONN, Louisville, Rutgers, and South Florida.  "Reports" suggest that the Big East will invite Boise State, Southern Methodist, Houston, Central Florida, Air Force and Navy.  Would these additions excite you, as a fan?             

Boise State's obviously been a great program over the past decade or so.  It would be fun to see a game on their blue turf every few years.  If they were able to maintain their caliber of play, the Broncos would be our main challenge for a league championship each season.  It is a 2,000+ mile haul between Boise and Morgantown, but if they're just football members, it's not that big of a deal.            

SMU and Houston aren't exactly close to the rest of the Big East either, but they're in big cities that aren't bad trips by plane.  SMU is still trying to comeback from that NCAA "death penalty" it received in the ‘80s.  While it is in the Texas football hotbed, the school itself doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the Big East members.            

Central Florida probably makes the most sense.  It's in another football hotbed, one that we already recruit heavily in.  Fans will travel to Orlando for the weather and Disney.  The best players in the Sunshine State will still go to Florida, Florida State and Miami and the second tier players would probably be spread out between the Golden Knights, South Florida, meaning we won't have to worry about either one challenging us year in and year out. 

Then there's Air Force and Navy.  Having the two best service academies in the league won't hurt.  West Virginia's high rate of military service gives us a lot in common.  Navy makes sense from a geographic standpoint.  Air Force is another outlier on the map, but Colorado offers enough reasons for fans to travel to every few years.  Expect the occasional, unexpected loss, due to their discipline and odd ball offenses.            

At the end of the day, the "new" Big East would be made up of 12 decent football programs, eight that make some regional sense and four others that probably bring enough to league to fit, even though they're outside of the region.              

Then, there's the Big 12 possibility.  Although I haven't been able to figure out how they fit, let's say more of these "reports" are right and the SEC takes Missouri.  "Reports" also say we're on the Big 12's short list.  Making another leap, if we're accepted, we'd join: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and TCU.  Which one of these is not like the others?  The obvious answer is us.  The geography just does not make any sense.  We're having a hard time filling our own stadium and suddenly we're going to have thousands of fans trekking to Stillwater, Manhattan and other far-off cities you'd never think of visiting?  The idea has a certain novelty for our fans, and probably fans of the existing Big 12 schools, but you've got to think that would wear off fast, as the miles and airfare mounted.            

I want us to be an elite program as much as the next fan.  The Big 12 certainly has more traditional football powers than anything the Big East is going to come up with, but how much do we stand to gain from being in the Big 12?  Sure, we can be competitive in the league, but there's a difference between being competitive and being the odds on favorite to win the league every year, as we should be in the Big East.  The Big 12 typically has four to five teams ranked in the top 25, while the Big East is lucky to get two.  You stand a much better chance of continued success when you're one of two teams, instead of five.  I know our options are running out, but I hope a case of nerves doesn't have us forcing our square peg into a round conference hole.

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