From Big East to Big 12, future unfolds for WVU

No more Big East Conference. No more Rutgers football. No more South Florida, Providence, or St. John’s basketball.

Bye, Bye Madison Square Garden. No more Rick Pitino or Buzz Williams or Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island.

Just a quickly fading memory.

DePaul Blue Demons, we hardly knew ye.

Bring on the Texas Longhorns with their burnt orange uniforms and band members giving us the “hook ‘em Horns” sign.

It will take no effort at all to build up an intense dislike for everything University of Texas.

Bring on the rolling covered wagon known as the “Sooner Schooner”. “Boomer Sooner” people won’t want to be reminded of the 2008 Fiesta Bowl where West Virginia ministered to the bloody and bowed Oklahomans after stinging them with a 48-20 pasting.

And right behind those two Big 12 legends come the Baylor Bears, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kansas Jayhawks, Iowa State Cyclone, Texas Christian Horned Frogs, Kansas State Wildcats, and Texas Tech Red Raiders.

The Big 12 powers that be didn’t have saturation coverage of all the big television markets in mind. Elsewise they would have chosen bigger way stations than Waco (Baylor), Stillwater (Oklahoma State), Manhattan (Kansas State), Lawrence (Kansas), Ames (Iowa State), and Norman (Oklahoma).

Those hardy West Virginians taking their recreational vehicles westward the 1,300 or so miles to see Mountaineer football will be glad to have their own pillows to sleep on rather than those in a Motel 6 or Econo Lodge in Lubbock (Texas Tech) or even Austin (Hook ‘em Horns country).

The Future.

What does the future hold for West Virginia University as its fans scramble to find places of interest to visit when motoring between Morgantown and Stillwater, Oklahoma?

For sure, winning football games will not take the same muscle and 3-3-5 defense it took to tame Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, and Pittsburgh.

The Big 12 takes its football very seriously.

The University of Texas spends as much money on football as any school in the nation. Oklahoma believes it deserves a national championship every year.

Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Texas Christian leave no stone (or pot of gold) unturned in looking for prize athletes and prize bowl games.

Even the Baylor Bears just loosed Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III on the football world.

What about basketball?

Here was Kansas in another Final Four. Baylor, Kansas State (which just lost its coach, Frank Martin, to South Carolina), and Iowa State were in the NCAA tournament.

Kansas has been the target for every team in the conference. And now that Missouri has fled to the Southeastern Conference, the Jayhawks and Texas will be the two taller-than-ye teams whose past records will make them both fair game for the others.

Other than Kansas, the Big East had more basketball giants than does the Big 12. No claim of infinite power can be made for Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Oklahoma State, or Oklahoma.

Nobody in the new league, including Kansas, will want to come to Morgantown.

The trip will be like breaking new ground for all of them. The rivalry will be in its infancy. How does Oklahoma build the same sort of dislike it has for Texas for those in far distant West Virginia? Geographically, there is more than the Red River between the two schools.

Already the Big 12 has informed athletic director Oliver Luck that West Virginia’s Hawley Field is an inadequate baseball facility by Big 12 standards.

The burnt orange of Coach Augie Garrido’s Longhorns believes a baseball national championship is a birthright of theirs. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma value baseball as highly as they do basketball. Texas Christian has become a Top 20 fixture with its purple-clad baseball team.

Hawley Field has no dressing quarters for visiting teams. The teams coming to Morgantown to see the baseball Mountaineers must dress in their motels and bus on out to Hawley and then return to their accommodations to shower.

The Big 12 doesn’t approve of such forced behavior. Coach Garrido will be critical of such carryings-on.

If West Virginia doesn’t soon upgrade its baseball program — not just its facilities — people in suits and paisley ties will be shrinking in places they can’t be found when Texas beats the Mountaineers in a three-game series by scores like 11-0, 14-1, and 9-0.

The Future?

While the Big East was formed way back when as a basketball conference, the Big 12 wages war on a national front. It has national champion wrestling teams . . . national champion teams in women’s sports . . . and values so-called “non revenue” sports like track and field, swimming, gymnastics, and golf.

West Virginia University is joining a group where most of the members once starred in the movie “Fistful of Dollars.”

Money is no object. Spend it to win. Spend it because Texas and Oklahoma are spending it. And nobody wants to see a flute player in burnt orange giving them the “hook ‘em Horns” sign.

The Big 12 is Big Sports.

Already, West Virginia has sent its men’s soccer team to the Mid-American Conference.

Where else might its “non revenue” teams find themselves? Flying into Lubbock for a volleyball match or swim meet might prove to be a little taxing on the athletic budget.

It’s a certainty that season tickets for football and men’s basketball will be more costly. It’s a certainty that alumni and “friends” of the university will have a “can you do more” eye cast at them.

And it’s a certainty that winning as often against Big 12 teams in the “revenue” sports as WVU did against Big East teams will be much more difficult.

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