WVU Positioning Itself for College Football’s Future - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Positioning Itself for College Football’s Future

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MORGANTOWN -

The 2012 football season is less than 100 days away and the anticipation is building to a peak that has not been seen at West Virginia University in quite some time.

Excitement emanates not only from the direction of the program in terms of the coaches and the roster and the recent success of a bowl blowout, but also – and maybe more so – from a change of scenery.

It wasn't too long ago that the Mountaineers' future in the grand scheme of college football appeared murky at best, searching for a new home as the Big East's foundation began to quiver.

But with the Big 12, a clearer path was paved and in the past week or so it became evident just how much the move could truly pay off for West Virginia as the entirety of the sport undergoes changes.

A season-opener against powerhouse Alabama just as the postseason is set to get a makeover is just one way that WVU athletic director Oliver Luck believes his program can become more attractive and ultimately more competitive.

"At the end of the day, to be the best, you really have to play the best and at some point beat the best. Going into the Big 12, we're going to be very battle tested," Luck says. "I think this is just another opportunity for us to knock one of the big boys off."

It also serves as preparation, helping the team gain experience against the best during its quest to join those ranks. The conference itself, though, already views itself as the best, and the recent agreement with the SEC makes that clear.

The two conferences are still working to determine exactly which bowl game they will face each other in, but Luck is clearly excited about the potential such a match-up presents.

"I think it's a big deal, I really do," says Luck. "The timing of it is not just random, it's obviously done before the playoff discussions take place with all the conference commissioners. I think the Big 12 and the SEC put a partnership together, put a stake in the ground and it's a stake around which college football is going to have to pivot, much like we have to pivot around the Rose Bowl.

"So I think it was a brilliant move, I think [Big 12 interim commissioner] Chuck Neinas is incredibly far-sighted and you've got two of the best, maybe the best football conferences who have now joined in this partnership, so I think it'll go a long way in determining what the playoff series may end up eventually looking like."

Luck then laughs that he hopes West Virginia someday has the opportunity to play in that game, noting the difficult schedule again.

Part of that schedule includes the non-conference slate and while Alabama may be the biggest addition, Luck already has his sights set on what teams should be next.

A WVU graduate and former quarterback, the athletic director says he wants to bring back some teams that fans have grown familiar with over the years, naming Kentucky, Virginia Tech and of course Pittsburgh as just a few.

"What we'd like to do with our non-conference schedule is try to keep it as local or regional as possible so that Mountaineer fans can go to those games," says Luck. "Obviously it is a long haul out to Oklahoma or to Iowa State or wherever it may be, so there are lots of local, regional schools [to look at]."

Luck believes his program is on the right track and well positioned for what lies ahead for college football as a whole.

Still, he will be the first to tell you that the job is nowhere near done.

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