West Virginia Big 12: Mountaineers Receive Official Invitation to Leave Big East

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2011

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 24: Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Louisiana State University Tigers during the game on September 24, 2011 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Amidst plenty of speculation over the past week, the Big 12 has finally extended an official invitation to the West Virginia Mountaineers. The move will get the conference back to 10 teams as Missouri readies for a jump to the SEC.

West Virginia may not be able to officially leave the Big East until 2014 because the conference requires 27 months of notice prior to leaving the league, according to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com.

Regardless of when the move officially takes place, it will allow the Big 12 to maintain its automatic-qualifying status in all likelihood. A grace period would also be beneficial to the Big East as it would give the conference some time to recruit the likes of Boise State, Air Force and others.

The Big 12 was trying to decide between adding West Virginia or Louisville as a 10th team, but ultimately decided on the Mountaineers. This is presumably due to the success of their football program over the past several years.

Losing West Virginia certainly isn't ideal for the Big East, but it seemed inevitable. Now, with the storm seemingly calmed, the conference can focus solely on adding additional teams rather than losing any other programs to poaching conferences.

West Virginia and the Big 12 are clearly the winners in this deal. The Mountaineers will move to a conference that is much more stable and the Big 12 will actually get an upgrade in swapping Mizzou out for West Virginia.