Before we really begin to dig into the topic of West Virginia's yearly hated rival, I would like to add that no one on the current or future schedules will ever be hated in quite the same fashion that Pitt was hated. The tradition that was lost when both Pitt and West Virginia decided to go to different conferences can never be replaced. Maybe in the future the Backyard Brawl will be revived and things can get back to some sense of normalcy, but it will not likely be soon.
From there, one must look to our current and futures schedules.
For the upcoming 2012 season, it really does not matter much, honestly. Most Mountaineer fans could care less about tradition and are just plain excited to be out of the Big East. Fans are also excited to host new teams and travel to new and exciting venues. In fact, the venues are so new and foreign for Mountaineer fans that WVU has only ever played at three of the current stadiums in the Big 12 with the last being 30 years ago. (1982 in Norman, Oklahoma)
It is the athletic department's strategy to pursue scheduling some of our more historic and regional rivals for non-conference games, such as Pitt. However, it is going to be awhile before the team from the Steel City will be on the same field as the Mountaineers. Until then, we have to look at our current schedules to find that potential team that can be held in such a low regard as the Panthers were.
Lets check it out.
The Maryland Terrapins will make an excellent regional rival for the future in my opinion; mostly because they have already been a good regional rival in the past.
There have been 48 games played between the two since 1919 and West Virginia currently leads the series with a 25-21-2 record. More good news is that Maryland is on West Virginia's schedule through 2017. And Oliver Luck is not likely to remove them for someone else since they are so close to West Virginia.
As far as tradition goes, it will be great to continue playing Maryland each season, giving our fans a close away game to travel for and keep the current winning streak of six in a row going against them.
Remarkably, there is a connection to Pitt at Iowa State. Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail breaks it all down for us here. Anyone remember that 2007 game?
The Cyclones and Mountaineers have never played each other in a college football game before. There is nothing in the past that suggests that the two schools can develop a good rivalry. Ames is the closest Big 12 town to Morgantown, however it is still well over 700 miles away.
The potential is there as it is with any team, however, only time will tell if the "Riot Bowl" will become a true rivalry game.
The Mountaineers have more history with the Sooners than with any other team in the Big 12. They have played each other a whopping four times, the "series" (I use that word loosely) is tied 2-2.
One of, if not the greatest moment in Mountaineer football history was the 2008 Fiesta Bowl that West Virginia in all rights should have lost based off each and every single media report and analysis that was presented before the game, for example, click here.
Oklahoma may end up being one of those teams that West Virginia can put up there next to the likes of Pitt, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Miami as one of those teams that we will end up loving to hate. The foundation has certainly been set.
Texas Christian University
The Frogs certainly have a lot more history with Big 12 teams than West Virginia does. Being from that part of the country certainly justifies that.
But remember they are a new team in this conference too and being a new team points to the fact that they want to prove themselves right out of the gate just like the Mountaineers do that they belong in the Big 12. One way they can prove to themselves and to the conference is defeating the other new team.
Who do you think will be a big "rival" for the Mountaineers?
Before TCU and WVU jumped ship on the Big East and headed toward the Big 12, I was excited as a Mountaineer fan to have TCU in the faltering Big East. I believed that the Big East championship would have consistently gone through Morgantown and Fort Worth. We still get to play each other for conference championships, but it's just a different conference.
My, how the tide has turned. Instead of TCU being the odd ball, (geographically that is) now it is WVU. Life is funny like that.
In the end, it could be anyone that ends up being that next great rival, I as a Mountaineer fan am truly excited about the opportunities in front of WVU.