Conference Dealings Become Increasingly Ridiculous - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Conference Dealings Become Increasingly Ridiculous

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MORGANTOWN -

How often have you used the word "ridiculous" in the past 48 hours or so? For that matter, how often have you used it since the latest round of conference realignment talk first began?

I ask because I have gotten to the point where it seems to roll off my tongue with such great ease these days.

It seems every few hours, sometimes even less, a new aspect of the equation surfaces that just doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.

Wednesday evening, my email inbox receives a statement from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. I post the statement and the news that a press conference is scheduled in a couple hours. His words are fiery in their commitment to keeping college athletics about college athletics and nothing more, like politics.

Then comes a statement from Senator Jay Rockefeller and next from Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. Suddenly the headline of the post is adding more and more names to the point where I want to go into our producer tool and change it to a simpler line:

"'Keep Politics Out,' Cry Politicians."

That's essentially what's happening, right? One politician reportedly became involved, others don't think it's right, so they become involved. Keep politics out.

Vote for the next member of the Big 12 based on merits of the potential institutions. If you felt you had found the right choice for the job, stick with it. Don't allow anyone – be it politicians, school officials, boosters, whoever – to change your mind.

Yet somehow that appears to be what took place, if only for a few days, and it's ridiculous.

Was Manchin's press conference an attempt to scold Mitch McConnell? Maybe initially, but based on his tone throughout, he appeared to have backed off a bit. Over and over, he made it clear that he was only going off of what he had heard, what the media that made up his audience had reported.

If I've learned anything in my time as a journalist, it's to be damn sure before I go writing or saying something. It's why I've kept my mouth (and my Twitter feed) shut for much of this fiasco and kept speculation or maybes away from anything I made public.

In this industry, we have sources, and we learn which ones can be trusted and which ones are just there to point us in the right direction. Trusted sources Tuesday morning and into the afternoon had WVU going to the Big 12. It could happen as soon as Wednesday.

Then everything flipped on its head. I began hearing the word "reneged" in association with the Big 12's side of the move.

A late Tuesday night conversation was full of the word, "ridiculous."

And in all this, the nation of college sports fans watches and thinks to itself, "My, how terrible this is for WVU. How poorly this entire ordeal reflects on the university's public image."

West Virginia as a state and West Virginia University as an academic institution and athletic program have always fought a reputation that generates prejudice from all angles. Come to WVU, experience it and understand it and then go off to make your generalizations. They will likely have changed.

But instead, there are excuses at every corner. One conference claims it's poor academics, another shies away from a small television market or, heaven forbid, an away team has to drive from an airport located in a different state.

A Big 12 booster says the Pittsburgh airport is "a couple hours" from Morgantown. Fact check, sir.

In truth, so much of what has made the WVU program great – most notably the fans and their view of the Mountaineers as the "professional" team – is working against it right now.

Yeah, you've got the 14th-most wins in college football history, but how many televisions do your media reach?

I hear that you've got a winning record over the rest of our conference in the programs' histories, but you're saying we can't fly into Morgantown?

West Virginia isn't a program that should be going door to door asking which friendly neighbor will help its cause and getting a face full of slammed pine. Its history, its current success, its facilities, its fan base and its affinity for traveling – these things warrant a neighbor welcoming the Mountaineers into the house.

WVU cannot be blamed for the loss of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College to the ACC. It shouldn't suffer while programs that hardly fill home stadiums and rarely find support at a bowl game are reaping benefits.

The Mountaineer football program has more wins than any ACC team, more than all but two Big 12 teams and more than any Big East team – including Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

Look at the 13 teams with more wins than WVU, you could never imagine any of them left outside of the BCS conversation.

And yet, the Mountaineers hang on, placed on hold as decisions are made for the future of the sport with little consideration as to how one of the top programs in the nation fits in.

It's ridiculous.

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