WVU and the Big East: Conference Expansion, When the Music Stops
Like any other West Virginia football fan, I am greatly concerned what the expansion of other football conferences might mean to the Big East Conference in general, and the Mountaineers in particular.
The last raid of the Big East was nearly devastating to the conference, with Miami and Virginia Tech going to the ACC. To a lesser extent, the eventual departure of Boston College only added fuel to the fire.
You remember those days. An endless number of critics were screaming for the removal of the automatic BCS berth for the Big East Champ.
Those criticisms were ultimately and effectively silenced by the Mountaineers’ 38-35 defeat of Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia.
I do find it interesting that, despite the constant criticisms of Big East, the three defectors have enjoyed remarkable football success in the ACC.
Arguably, it could be stated that those three teams have dominated the league since their arrival. But despite that fact, any objective analysis of the Big East would reveal that their representatives have performed much better than the ACC teams in BCS games.
Moreover, while the criticisms of the conference still rage on, there are still major BCS conferences out there, desperately seeking to snatch away members of the Big East.
That is certainly strange behavior for BCS conferences to be courting teams that are repeatedly described as unworthy of their BCS bids.
Something is amiss here.
But once again, the rumors are flying that some of the leagues are seeking to increase their numbers.
Penn State Coach Joe Paterno is already on record as stating his desire to expand the Big Ten Conference.
The question is not whether these conference affiliations will change; the question is when. And what teams will be left standing when the music stops?
I sincerely believe the detractors of the Big East would be silenced if Notre Dame’s football program had joined the conference as they did in their other sports.
Moreover, I have repeatedly made no secret of my opinion that the former Big East chief, Mike Tranghese, should have insisted that the Irish must enter the conference in all sports, or not at all.
That was a blunder of major proportions!
Notre Dame continues their openly parasitic existence, using its conference status to help their formerly-pathetic, round ball program and its other non-revenue sports, while the Irish greedily pocket everything from football.
Meanwhile, Tranghese’s initial failure cries out for the current situation in Big East football, making the league a target for every conference raider seeking to add a championship game.
As much as I would like to see West Virginia get out in front of this situation, I would hate to see them be the match that ignited the Big East implosion. I also fear that that their current search for an athletic director will leave them inadequately prepared to deal with the consequences, or to proactively seek a viable solution.
I think it would be naïve to assume that there won’t be some major changes in conference affiliation in the near future.
We’ve all heard this same tune before.
And when the music stops, it is my hope that Mountaineer football isn’t the program caught looking for a chair.
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