Now that West Virginia is officially a member of the Big 12 conference, it's time to look ahead at the future of the Mountaineers' football program.
For years now, WVU has had to stack the out-of-conference schedule with big-name teams from other conferences due to the Big East not having the fire power to reach the BCS National title game. With the move to the Big 12 complete, that can finally change.
While it will be normal to see a few cupcakes, the schedule for the Mountaineers next year should be pretty stacked outside of James Madison and Marshall. Maryland will continue to be a nice out-of-conference "rivalry" game from two schools who are fairly close to each other, and should continue to provide some good games.
Although the future of the Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh is not decided, I would not be shocked to see it replace Marshall on the schedule in 2013 to continue a great storied rivalry between two bitter enemies. That will leave one game left for the Mountaineers to fill, but I'm sure they'll have no trouble finding another game.
It's obvious WVU will have a stacked schedule with conference play in the Big 12, and it's a great possibility that we'll see some great rivalries form in the next few years between West Virginia and some of the other Big 12 schools such as Oklahoma State for football, and possibly Baylor in basketball.
With many players on offense returning next year, including Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and others, the Mountaineers will have a very good offense again under the realm of head coach Dana Holgorsen. While the defense is still a big question mark, I don't think it really matters much as most Big 12 games are shoot-outs anyway—but how nice would it be to have a defense capable of shutting down opponents?
Coming off a huge win in the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers will be looking to go back to Miami next January. While it's unlikely they'll run the table, it will be fun watch!