Big 12 Had Presence At WVU Season Opener - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Big 12 Had Presence At WVU Season Opener

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia University and Big 12 headquarters in Dallas, Texas are separated by 1,200 miles. That distance has not prevented the Big 12 from making numerous visits to Morgantown to support one of its two newest members.

Numerous Big 12 officials attended the Gold-Blue game in April. New Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was in Morgantown on July 1 to officially welcome WVU to the conference on its first day of membership. The Big 12 also flew a banner in the skies over Morgantown saying "The Big 12 Loves WVU."

Big 12 Associate Commissioner of Football Ed Stewart attended West Virginia's season opener against Marshall.

"It's a rabid fan base," Stewart said of West Virginia fans. "They are really fired up. I am eager to see how excited people are to be in the Big 12. My being here is an opportunity to show how excited we are in the Big 12 to welcome West Virginia."

WVU fans cheered when a video played on the scoreboard welcoming West Virginia University to the Big 12. It featured all eight of the Head Coaches from the schools that were already in the Big 12 indicating their excitement to have WVU and TCU join the conference.

Stewart took in his first WVU football game and saw West Virginia hammer Marshall 69-34. He evaluated the atmosphere both inside and outside the stadium. Stewart indicated he felt even more strongly about how perfectly WVU fits in the Big 12 after watching a game at Milan Puskar Stadium.

"I think it compares favorably," Stewart said. "I have said all along because of the enthusiasm of this crowd, it is very similar to a lot of the Universities and Big 12 campuses that your fans will have an opportunity to visit."

Stewart walked around the sidelines during pregame warmups and spoke with various WVU coaches. He also shared a few words with Head Coach Dana Holgorsen on the field prior to the game.

"This is the greatest time of the year for me," Stewart said with a smile. "That is non-conference games and bowl games because I actually get to have a rooting interest in today's game. I am rooting for the Mountaineers all the way. I am looking forward to seeing Geno Smith play."

What Stewart saw was Geno Smith complete 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Smith also added 65 yards rushing and another touchdown on a broken play.

Stewart remains busy throughout the week keeping up with all of the changes facing college football. That includes a new television deal for the Big 12 as well as the Champions Bowl featuring the Big 12 and SEC champions. That bowl game is set to begin in 2014.

"We are trying to finalize our new television contract," Stewart stated. "We've got this new Champions Bowl initiative, which we have received bid proposals back from so we are evaluating those and hope to be able to announce a destination site for that game in the next few weeks or so."

New Orleans, Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio and Arlington, Texas have submitted bids for the new bowl game.

The television deal was verbally agreed to between the Big 12 and ESPN and FOX for $2.6 billion through 2025. It could be signed by the end of the week.

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