Finally, the long, sad divorce between West Virginia and the Big East has come to an end.
The Mountaineers will be playing in the Big 12 this season, after it became clear that WVU was willing to pay alimony in order to be allowed to leave. Now, head coach Dana Holgorsen will be able to resume his tear through Big 12 defenses (Holgorsen was the former offensive coordinator for Oklahoma State), and with the offensive firepower returning to Morgantown, don't be surprised if points come in bunches for West Virginia.
West Virginia is a lock for a preseason Top 25 position, and the 15 returning starters—including stud quarterback Geno Smith—will likely keep WVU on everyone's radar screen this fall.
But winning the Big 12 is a taller task than winning the Big East. No more Cincinnati, no more Rutgers, no more South Florida. Instead, West Virginia will be facing the likes of Texas and Oklahoma. The road to the BCS is much, much rockier this time around.
In addition to all of the benefits of moving to the Big 12 (money, recruiting, television exposure, et cetera), Mountaineer fans should be filled with hope for one very important reason: Dana Holgorsen's offense.
If there's one guy who knows how to shred Big 12 defenses, it's Holgorsen. His “Air Raid” offense is gelling at WVU and this could be the year when all of the pieces fall into place.
In his final season at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen led a Cowboys attack that was third in the FBS in total offense and scoring offense.
His 2011 Mountaineers were No. 15 in total offense and No. 13 in scoring offense.
Given all that, and the Big 12's complete lack of defense (no teams in the top ten of total defense, and only one in the top 50), there's more than enough reason to believe West Virginia has as much of a shot as anyone in the Big 12 in 2012.
2012 Prediction: 10-2