From the moment WVU joined the Big 12, West Virginia fans started wishing their beloved Mountaineers were in the ACC with their old Big East rivals instead. No matter what went on in the Big 12, a bloom was off the rose of college sports for them forever. Even when some of those rivals popped back up on the schedule, it just wasn’t the same and the games didn’t matter as much.
Life in the Big 12 hasn’t been easy for a once-elite program. Just looking at football and men’s basketball, the two big revenue sports, WVU went from winning conference titles, major bowl games and going on deep NCAA Tournament runs, to fighting to even be a contender at all. The geography has made the travel tougher on WVU than what most schools deal with in the entire country.
But West Virginia didn’t have a choice back when the writing was on the wall for the Big East. It was either join the Big 12 or be left out of the Power-5 all together. WVU made the only decision it could make.
Fast forward to 2023, and West Virginia is far from the only program dealing with bizarre geography and in a conference that doesn’t seem to fit at first glance. Geography doesn’t matter. Historic rivalries don’t matter. These things haven’t mattered for awhile, but they are really meaningless now.
As Neal Brown said, different doesn’t have to mean worse and this is all just about money. College sports is enduring another drastic conference realignment shakeup. And this one likely means the death of the Pac-12, suffering the same fate the Big East did just over a decade ago.
Fortunately for the Mountaineers, WVU is sitting in a position of power and will be arguably the most historic program in the new Big 12. Some may say West Virginia should take this opportunity to get out of a conference they never felt truly at home in the first place. But anyone saying that is very wrong.
It’s time for West Virginia fans to fully embrace the Big 12. After Oklahoma and Texas, the two marquee institutions, made their intentions to depart the conference known, most were predicting the Big 12 wouldn’t be able to compete with the other major conferences like the SEC, Big Ten and even ACC. Many thought the Big 12 would eventually die, the same way the Pac-12 is now.
No one told that to Brett Yormark. Once he took over as commissioner, he made it his mission to ensure the Big 12, not only stayed alive, but would thrive into the future. And he’s already accomplished that goal and then some.
There’s still an argument the Big 12 isn’t on the level of the SEC and Big Ten, but it’s stable and far from going anywhere. Stable isn’t something that can be said about the ACC, the conference West Virginia fans have been dreaming of being part of for years.
If not for the work of Yormark, WVU could be scrambling for another conference to rescue them, much the same way the Big 12 did in the past.
“I’ve been really impressed with Commissioner Yormark since he took over. I think he’s been aggressive,” said Brown. “Commissioner Yormark had a plan since the beginning. And now, we’re sitting at 16 teams, and I think that for the last several months we’ve been in a position of power.”
Still wish your Mountaineers were with their old friends in the ACC? Really?
Being in the ACC right now would bring a stress of waiting for an inevitable big shoe to drop. Clemson, Florida State and Miami are the top brands in the conference and are all in rumors about eventually leaving. Losing any, or all, of those programs, could mark the beginning of the end of the ACC and lead to that conference being raided, just like the exits of UCLA and USC foreshadowed the destruction of the Pac-12.
While Pitt and Virginia Tech may need to worry, WVU is sitting pretty and at least knows the Big 12 is stable for years to come. In today’s climate, being a stable and successful conference means having a footprint all over the country and possessing a strong media deal.
The new Big 12 has all of that. With the recent west expansion and the four current new members who will kickoff their debut football season this fall, the Big 12 is going to be in four different time zones and be on a national network somewhere at every main time slot every Saturday.
The Big 12 also offers a competitiveness on the field, hardwood, baseball diamond, pitch etc. while being run by a modern thinking man that can keep the conference a booming business. Still prefer the ACC? Come on.
So in summary, with the Big 12 stabilizing itself, WVU does not in any way need to leave the conference. It may have been a legitimate argument when the Big 12 first lost Oklahoma and Texas, but it’s not now. As much having rivalries in a conference would be cool, it’s not worth the risk of jumping out of a now stable environment for one that’s far more vulnerable.
Agree? Disagree? Either way, vote in our poll below.
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