Musings Of A Mountain Man: October 27, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: October 27, 2011

Posted:

A day after the Big 12 Conference did a Texas two-step on WVU, we can sum up the reason for our current angst and irritation with two one-word questions of incredulity. They are:
   Louisville?
   And...
   Really?
                                                        *****
    WE ALREADY KNEW that the Big 12 was a bit unstable.
    It's not Big East unstable, mind you -- the San Andreas Fault is more stable than the Big East -- but the Big 12 sure has shown signs that it has a few cracks in its foundation.
    This is evidenced by the fact that charter members Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M have bailed on the Big 12 in the past two years.
    A fourth unhappy camper, Missouri, looks like it's leaving either on its own or has been such a waffling milquetoast about it that the remaining conference members appear ready to grab it by its Geoffrey Beene collar and hurl it out the door and on the street under the steamroller called the Southeastern Conference.
    Perhaps we now know through painful experience why the Big 12 has been in disarray as of late.
    There seems to be a problem with its decision-making process and the decisions it makes.
                                                        *****
   THERE WE WERE, us members of the far-flung Mountaineer Nation, wearing party hats and clinking glasses of our favorite nectars at the news that Big 12 presidents had invited WVU to join the conference and were parading their way to Morgantown for a Wednesday news conference to make it all official-like.
   But then came the news that Kentucky U.S. Senator and University of Louisville graduate Mitch McConnell had swooped in at the 11th hour and persuaded his friend and former senate colleague David Boren -- now president of the University of Oklahoma -- to throw his support behind Louisville as the Big 12's newest member.
   That brought a swell of reconsideration that has delayed WVU's escape to a safe harbor away from the sinking Big East, perhaps even canceled it.
   All apparently because of Louisville, which makes us ask:
   Louisville?
   Really?
                                                        *****
   WE REMEMBER, AND IT WAS NOT THAT LONG AGO, when Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida joined the Big East as full-time members to replace Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech, who left the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in a divorce contentious enough to warrant its own reality series.
   Louisville at the time was considered a step below any of the teams that left in football quality.
   The Cardinals had a notable football run in the mid-2000s when head coach Bobby Petrino was running a reform school, but the program quickly came back to the pack when the nomadic Petrino (Did anyone think he would stay in Louisville?) skipped town to coach the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
   The only ones who profited from that move were the bail bondsmen.
   The Louisville program Petrino left was packed with a bevy of questionable characters.
   His successor, Steve Kragthorpe, was encouraged to clean things up.
   Kragthorpe did just that and he got fired for doing it when his record suffered.
   The Cardinals have been ordinary or below since then, as they have throughout much, if not most, of their football history.
                                                        *****
   LOUISVILLE HAS A RICH BASKETBALL history with two national titles under then-coach Denny Crum 31 and 25 years ago.
   Now, though, WVU -- with a rich basketball tradition of its own -- is on a par with Louisville.
   In fact, WVU has been to the Final Four more recently than Louisville and competes favorably with the Cardinals.
   If Louisville surpasses WVU in basketball these days, and we're not conceding that it does, it is by a very slim margin.
   If you collectively compare the two schools' football and basketball programs -- the only two sports that matter in the conference realignment frenzy, with football being the only sport that really matters -- WVU comes out comfortably ahead.
                                                        *****
   WORD HAS IT that Louisville is touting its television market as an advantage over WVU.
   Of what television market are they talking?
   Louisville is rated only 48th nationally as a TV market.
   Cincinnati is 33rd, by the way, so if that is a criteria why aren't the Bearcats being mentioned over the Cardinals?
   When we talk about national market, we don't think even the staunchest Louisville fan would argue that WVU doesn't have a better national TV brand.
   The only time national TV concentrates on Louisville is the second Saturday in May for the Kentucky Derby, and then the focus is on horses.
                                                        *****
   SO NOW THE BIG 12 is considering Louisville for inclusion over WVU?
   Really?
   Why?
   Facts are, WVU is a better, more marketable, more deserving sports program for entry into the Big 12 than Louisville, shell games aside.
   WVU offers more to the Big 12 than Louisville.
   It's not even that close.
                                                        *****
   THAT LOUISVILLE STILL is in the running at this point is a head-scratcher to us and makes us wonder if the fractures caused by Texas in the Big 12 are leading to clear-minded decisions because WVU over Louisville should be a no-brainer.
   We believe, however, that in the end the Big 12 decision-makers will stick to their original choice in favor of WVU, despite the machinations and horse pucky being thrown its way.
   Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams said, and the facts are on WVU's side in this one.
   Louisville?
   Puh-leaze.

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