Conference Realignment: Why This West Virginia Fan Blames Pitt

RG YohoCorrespondent IMay 27, 2010

MORGANTOWN, WV - DECEMBER 1: LeSean McCoy #25 of the Pittsburgh Panthers carries the ball during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium on December 1, 2007 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Pittsburgh defeated West Virginia 13-9. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As a West Virginia football fan, it’s really not hard to come up with reasons for hating the University of Pittsburgh. However, with the recent rumors of conference raiding and realignments, it gives me even one more reason to despise the Panthers.

The whole thing is their fault!

Perhaps it is an oversimplification of the problem; but it is certainly not an exaggeration to blame Pitt for the current situation and the seemingly endless criticisms of Big East football.

I don’t know if there is going to be a nationwide scramble for conference expansion and/or realignment in the near future. I don’t know if anybody can say for sure.

I do know, however, that there are a lot of institutions thinking about it; there are a lot of institutions talking about it. Moreover, there are a lot of institutions that are doing both, while trying to keep their involvement and interests private.

And this once again brings us to the subject of Pitt and why the situation is really all their fault.

In the early 1980’s, there was a coach in Happy Valley, an excellent coach, often identified by his prominent nose and Coke bottle glasses.

Joe Paterno attempted to start an eastern all-sports conference for Penn State, West Virginia, Miami, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Navy, Temple, and Pitt, all of whom were independents in the sport.

Along with those schools, I am sure there were others included in his plan, but their names fail me at the moment.

In addition, I can confidently affirm that West Virginia was completely behind Paterno’s idea of an eastern all-sports conference.

Pitt wasn’t.

In a 2000 interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette , when asked about their football rivalry, Joe Paterno made it clear that the Panthers were the reason for its demise.

“It's been a great rivalry, but things change,” Paterno said. “The main thing that changed was we could not put together an all-sports conference. Pitt vetoed that. People say other things, but that's exactly what happened.”

In addition to my views that Pitt was largely at fault for this mess, I am joined by none other than Joe Paterno.

Apparently, West Virginia fans are not alone in their hatred of Pitt.

Following the announced defections of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East, Paterno granted another interview to the Post Gazette .

“We all make decisions down through the line,” Paterno said. “Going back to '81-'82, decisions were made that affected lots of people. If those decisions weren't made, Penn State wouldn't be in the Big Ten.”

Once more, the outstanding coach, with the prominent nose, stated that Pitt is the reason why Penn State is now in the Big Ten, not in the Big East.

In addition, it was West Virginia’s victory over Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl that saved the conference.

Meanwhile, Pitt was consistently losing football games, failing to lift the conference on their shoulders, and neglecting to do their part to restore Big East credibility.

I must reiterate the fact: Pitt is largely to blame for this mess.

Big East football could survive if Rutgers were to leave the conference. However, I think the defection of Pitt would be a significant loss, one from which the conference could not recover.

Now that Pitt has finally rebuilt their football program to respectability, it is deplorable that they would consider leaving the Big East, a conference that they were largely responsible for creating.

Will Pitt leave the Big East? Only time will tell.

But once again, that institution is exhibiting the same lack of class and character that Mountaineer fans have routinely come to expect from Pitt.