Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 3, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: November 3, 2011

It has been said that when people reflect on their lives they often regret what they didn't do more than what they did.
     It's easier in many cases to forgive ourselves for an action we took than it is to later regret that we stood on the sidelines amid uncertainty.
     What if? is an impossible question, but one we all ask ourselves.
     When we take action, successfully or not, at least we know the answer through the outcome.
     Applying that to the current events facing WVU athletics, we think it's safe to say that we as fans will not regret that those in the WVU sports hierarchy -- from President James Clements and Athletic Director Oliver Luck on down -- have taken action by engineering the Mountaineers' entry into the Big 12 Conference.
     WE DON'T THINK THAT WE ARE OVERSTATING the case when we say that decisions made in the next few weeks and months and how they are implemented will have a decades-long impact on WVU's national athletic standing.
     WVU sports have long been woven into the fabric of many a West Virginian's self-identity.
     WVU's rise to become a successful, identifiable national sports brand is a point of pride that the Mountaineer Nation would be loathe to relinquish.
     Boiling it down, it's very important to us and has been for more than a century.
     A decline in WVU's football brand seemed possible if it didn't escape the Big East Conference's collapsing gridiron relevance.
     They can't allow that to happen if they can help it.
     THERE IS A SHAKEOUT going on right now in college sports.
     This may be a big step toward a college football playoff system, if not the earth-shaker that brings one, or it may be a temblor headed in a different direction with the Big One yet to come.
     Whatever the ending may be, there is little doubt WVU is in the middle of this one and the rumbling isn't over.
     For WVU to stay put, hold on and hope for the best would be foolhardy with a cataclysmic potential.
     The knowledge of what's at stake jettisons any faux sense of decorum, especially when appearances and fair play didn't seem to be priorities for other Big East members who have slipped or are slipping out of town.
     THEREFORE, THE VIEW FROM HERE is that WVU doesn't owe the Big East any apologies for leaving and taking the conference to court in a bid to leave as soon as possible.
      If any apologies are in order, they should come from Big East headquarters.
     Sincere acts of contrition should flow out of Providence, Rhode Island, for putting athletic programs such as WVU's in jeopardy.
     WVU WAS JUSTIFIED IN SUING the conference this week in what amounts to a malpractice suit.
     The suit -- filed Tuesday in Morgantown -- essentially claims that incompetent leadership and years of neglect toward the football side of the conference from Big East Commissioner John Marinatto and his predecessors has left Big East football on life support.
     It also claims that a legal precedence has been set that should allow WVU to check out next June 30 instead of 27 months from now as the Big East forcefully is trying to dictate.
     THE SUIT AGGRESSIVELY ASSAILS the hand Big East leaders dealt WVU and other football-playing members.
     It calls into question the conference's ardent support of a deal allowing Notre Dame to compete in every Big East sport but football.
     It focuses on the league's basketball-first attitudes that essentially thwarted the Big East's chances of keeping healthy the football cash cow that pays the bills.
     WE FIND AMUSING THE BIG EAST'S indignation that WVU would have the audacity to leave the conference and sue it in a three-day period.
     It's funny because Marinatto, his minions and those before him have shown more than once that they don't give a tinker's dam about football or WVU in comparison with the basketball-only members.
     They apparently were so indifferent in WVU's case that they underestimated with whom they were dealing.
     DID THE CONFERENCE BRASS THINK that WVU would just sit tight and place its trust in Providence after Miami, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Pitt have fled and Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville and even South Florida would board the first bus in any direction other than Big East?
     How could they spend 20 years with WVU and not know that people from our neck of the woods, no matter in what far flung locales we find ourselves, tend to have one common trait:
     We are a stubborn lot who hail from a land of sometimes not-so-plenty who are willing to go to battle for the good things we do have.
     WVU sports definitely is one of those things.
     IF WE GO DOWN, WE GO DOWN FIGHTING, sometimes swinging at quixotic windmills, other times swinging at anything in sight while cursing the fate that befalls us, but fighting the good fight nonetheless.
     It would be against WVU's systemic, institutional and ideological nature to sit idly by and trust others to make decisions about its athletics future.
    This would be especially so when the decisions would be coming from a group with questionable motives, insight and ability such as the Big East.
     The Big East's passivity in the form of enabling Notre Dame and tending to the needs of the takers and not the givers in the conference is what put the Big East in a position to be cannibalized by its more ruthless neighbor, the Atlantic Coast Conference.
     FIGHTING WAS AND IS THE BEST WAY FOR WVU to free itself from being left with scraps at the Big East table.
     WVU has been loyal to the conference even when the loyalty in return has been tepid over the years.
     Now it's time to leave and leave fast, if possible.
     THE FILING OF THE SUIT on Monday in a Morgantown court before Big East and WVU-Big 12 meetings on Tuesday was a clever move.
     At a time when the Big East was preparing to invite Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy and SMU to the conference, it received the news that it may have to prepare for a lengthy court battle.
     We believe that the Big East -- now vowing to make WVU live up to the 27-month waiting period in the Big East contract -- will decide to make a cash settlement with WVU, as it seems was the intent of the suit.
     EVEN THE BIG EAST is smart enough to know that looking forward is key at this time, when it has six other programs on the verge of joining.
     The Big East, fighting for it's Bowl Championship Series slot, doesn't want to give any of those programs it offered, most importantly Boise State and Houston, a reminder that the league is unstable and balk at joining.
     Settling with WVU and subsequently with the two other wannabe Big East expatriates, Syracuse and Pitt -- who likely are pulling for WVU in the lawsuit, even if they wouldn't admit it -- would clear up a lot of potential problems for the conference.
     LAWSUITS OBVIOUSLY ARE FILED FOR legal and financial reasons, but they often are filed for psychological reasons as well.
     We think that WVU's suit has a well-placed psychological component that will mess with the Big East's collective heads, enough to make them want to put WVU out of sight and out of mind.
     They never liked us much, anyway, and, by the way, the feeling is mutual.
     WVU already has paid $2.5 million of the original $5 million Big East exit fee and may ultimately have to pony up a few more million on top of that as part of a settlement, but that's the price of doing business.
     It's business that we trust WVU will not mind doing after getting the business from the Big East for two decades.
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