Last week the discussion here was what might happen if Texas A&M were to join the SEC. In particular, how such a move by A&M might affect West Virginia University and its current affiliation with the Big East. Last week a move by A&M to the SEC seemed imminent. This week the rumors and info coming from those parties has slowed considerably. At least that is how it appears on the surface.
Most of the chatter that is still out there suggests that the union that will pair A&M with the SEC is still moving forward, but it has been moved to a more quiet environment. If you were to believe the official statements of the parties involved you would likely come to the conclusion that there will be no agreement. Despite what is being said “officially,” there is still enough going on to think this deal is not dead.
Be that as it may, here is one person’s perspective of how he hopes it all plays out with regard to WVU. Much of this speculation is presumed since only a select few individuals really know where WVU stands in the potential conference shake up. One would have to figure that WVU president James Clements and athletics director Oliver Luck would have a good idea of what will take place, but they may also be on the edge of their seat.
If that is the case, look out.
Unless there is something in the pipeline not known by the masses, getting out of the Big East would seem prudent. There is plenty of upside to the league, like its basketball teams, but despite what is said in public, many of the football schools would be wise to be looking around. That’s because when these other conferences expand, some Big East schools will be approached and will likely leave. WVU needs to be among that group or its football program will likely be left in a non-BCS conference.
Ideally, continuing to play football in the Big East would favor WVU, because it is the path of least resistance to a BCS Bowl. As stated, keeping the football schools on board will be a challenge.
Assuming West Virginia can get consideration to be invited to the SEC and/or the ACC, where should they go? It is unlikely WVU will ever be in a position to have a choice between the two. If an invitation comes from either conference they should accept it. It should be noted that this wouldn’t happen unless either league goes to 14 or 16 teams. The exception could be the ACC. Should the SEC poach a couple of the ACC teams the ACC could come calling to get back to 12 teams.
The preference here would be the ACC. The path to the BCS would remain attainable. The fan base in this area could easily travel to away games at Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Plus WVU has established current and recent rivalries with the Terps and Hokies. Other geographic regions in West Virginia could easily access the Virginia schools as well as the North Carolina schools.
The SEC is a different animal. The football played in that league is the best college football in the country and WVU would need to be very good to be 9-3 or 8-4. Playing for conference championships in the SEC would be rare for the Mountaineer football program. There is plenty of upside to the SEC. The revenue shared by its member schools is at least double what WVU currently gets with the Big East and that is a conservative estimate.
With the added revenue WVU could step up to the plate and try to compete with the big boys. The home football schedule would look better and a 7-5 record would land you in the Liberty Bowl or Music City Bowl, or perhaps even better. The SEC is aligned with at least eight decent bowls. The Big East is fighting for scraps when it comes to bowl games. For example, the Gator Bowl used to take the number two team in the Big East. Last year the Gator ended its affiliation with the Big East and now takes the number six team from the SEC. Make no mistake; the SEC would be a great home, just a very difficult one.