West Virginia Football: How Being in the Big 12 Impacts Mountaineers Recruiting

Kyle StanzelCorrespondent IIIJuly 11, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  (L-R) Head coach Dana Holgorsen, Tavon Austin #1 and Stedman Bailey #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers wait in the tunnel prior to running onto the field to take on the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The 2012-2013 college football season will mark the dawning of a new era, as the West Virginia Mountaineers make the transition from the Big East to the Big 12.

While the tougher competition may result in a extra loss or two each year, the prestige of the Big 12 Conference and the national exposure that accompanies it will have a profound positive impact on West Virginia's recruiting.

The Big East is a crumbling basketball conference, whose status as a BCS conference has turned into a joking matter around college football circles.

As a member of the Big 12 the Mountaineers will get the annual opportunity to go up against national powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma, and this officially puts West Virginia in the top tier of college football.

All of this will cause the elite high school prospects across the nation to turn their attentions to Morgantown, especially if the Mountaineers can show that they can win in the Big 12.

In ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach's Way-Too-Early 2012 Top 25 West Virginia is ranked at No. 8, just behind No. 6 Oklahoma for the best team in the Big 12.

The Mountaineers have three legitimate All-American candidates on the offensive side of the ball in quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

Second-year coach Dana Holgorsen has had great success scoring the ball in the Big 12 before and West Virginia should put up some impressive offensive numbers in 2012.

With a relatively easy schedule in their first season in the conference, West Virginia is a serious threat to win the Big 12 and could contend for a national title.

While it could take a couple of years for the Mountaineers' success to show up in the form of high profile recruits for Holgorsen, you can bet that West Virginia will be right up there competing with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma when all is said and done.

According to Scout.com, West Virginia is currently ranked No. 45 in the early Class of 2013 recruiting rankings, but they should move up as more recruits announce their commitments in the coming months. 

In the 2008 Fiesta Bowl West Virginia proved that they could beat the best the Big 12 had to offer and the Mountaineers will show the country in the coming years that they belong among the nation's elite college football programs.

In the process the recruiting trail to Morgantown will become a familiar road for top high school prospects across the nation, making the West Virginia Mountaineers perennial Big 12 title contenders.