No. 12 WVU hosts streaking TCU

West Virginia looks for its third-straight win Tuesday night when the Mountaineers host the surprise team of the Big 12. TCU (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) was a consensus pick to finish in the conference basement in the Big 12 preseason pool, but the Horned Frogs are off to a strong starting, including winning their first three conference games (Kansas State, 59-57; Oklahoma State, 52-40; Iowa State, 81-79). TCU is tied with No. 2 Baylor atop the conference standings. WVU (13-2, 2-1) has won a pair of conference games after dropping the Big 12 opener in Kansas. Freshman guard Miles McBride continues his rise as one of the Mountaineers best players after scoring a career-best 22 points in Saturday night's win over Texas Tech. TCU is led by senior Desmond Bane (6-foot-6), who leads the team with 17.1 points a game. Bane also tallies seven rebounds a game and 3.5 points a contest. Sophomore Kevin Samuel (6-11) paces the Horned Frogs on the glass, pulling down 8.9 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard R.J. Nembhard leads TCU with 3.6 assists a game. Bane, Nembhard (13.1) and Samuel (10.8) average double-digit scoring for the Horned Frogs. Bane (35.5 minutes a game) and Nembhard (318 mpg) see heavy floor time for TCU, but the Horned Frogs have depth outside of those two. Nine Horned Frogs average more than 12 minutes of playing time a contest. The TCU game is the second of a stretch where the Mountaineers are playing six of eight at home. The game tips off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU. WVU is a 7 1/2 point favorite. ESPN's BPI heavily favors the Mountaineers.

WVU-Oklahoma State each look for first Big 12 win Monday night

West Virginia and Oklahoma State both opened Big 12 play Saturday afternoon and both did so on the road against a ranked opponent. Both also opened with a conference loss. WVU and Oklahoma State face off Monday night in Stillwater, Okla., at 9 p.m. While the Mountaineers (11-2, 0-1 Big 12) were unable to conquer their Allen Fieldhouse demons in a 60-53 slug-fest defeat at No. 3 Kansas on Saturday, Oklahoma State (9-4, 0-1) was getting throttled by No. 22 Texas Tech, 85-50, in Lubbock, Texas. The Cowboys were outscored 49-20 in the second half of their rout by the Red Raiders. Both teams are coming off of subpar offensive performances. West Virginia shot just 32.2 percent from field and only hit 12-of-22 free throws in the Kansas loss. Like Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers struggled in the second half of their conference opening loss. WVU was outscored 36-23 in the second half after taking a six-point lead into halftime against the Jayhawks. The Mountaineers played well defensively in the loss, holding Kansas to nearly 20 points below the Jayhawks season average. But that wasn't enough to overcome WVU's offensive dry spell. The Cowboys didn't play well in any facet of the game against Texas Tech. OSU hit just 28.8 percent of its field goals and only 11-of-18 free throws. Defensively, the Cowboys allowed TTU to hit 54.5 percent of its shots from the field in the blowout. The Cowboys have three players averaging in double figures, led by senior Lindy Waters III, who averages 12.8 points a game. Senior Cameron McGriff leads OSU on the boards, pulling down an average of 6.8 rebounds a game. Sophomore point guard Isaac Likeele leads the Cowboys with 4.8 assists a contest. Oklahoma State swept the season series last year, winning both games 85-77. The Mountaineers are 1-point favorites but ESPN's BPI gives the Cowboys the edge tonight. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.  

Should the Big 12 get really big?

Part 1 of 2 The Big 12 has been on the receiving end of no shortage of criticism. Much of it deserved. The biggest criticism leveled on the conference, from its inception in 1994, is its timidity. In the topsy-turvy world of college sports conference aggression, the Big 12 has ALWAYS been on the defensive. Sure, the conference could poach TCU and West Virginia from the dying Big East. But when it comes dealing with the big boys – the other Power 5 conferences – the Big 12 has always been the prey, never the predator. Maybe that’s about to change. In June 2010, more than a year before West Virginia announced its intention to join the conference, the Big 12 almost died. At the time the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was in serious negations to pluck the conference's crown jewels – Texas and Oklahoma – plus Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas Tech and Texas A&M and add them to the West Coast league. Reports later confirmed that the move was all but finished before a change of heart by Texas put the kibosh on the prospective deal. The Big 12’s acquiescence on allowing Texas to operate its own television network (the Longhorn Network) led to Texas to stay in the Big 12 and save the conference. The Big 12 would eventually still lose Colorado to the Pac-12, Texas A&M to the SEC and Nebraska to the Big Ten. The latter two opened the Big 12 door to TCU and West Virginia. After Louisville left the Big East to join the ACC in 2014 (replacing Maryland, which bolted for the Big Ten), the Power 5 football conferences have found a level of stability unseen in the past 30 years. But in the dog-eat-dog world of intercollegiate conference realignment, if your conference isn’t the predator, it’s probably the prey. In 2016, the Big 12 flirted with the idea of expansion before eventually backtracking and deciding to stay at 10 teams. That foray again involved the Big 12 looking at Group of 6 conference teams as possible new members. It’s possible next time the Big 12 goes looking for bigger game. The Big 12 is in a solid place financially. The conference is third in revenue-per-team. It trails behind the biggest of the big boys – the SEC and Big Ten – but is competitive with the ACC and doing significantly better than the Pac-12. On his recent podcast, The Athletic’s college sports guru Andy Staples praised the Big 12’s current leadership and talked about the possibility of the Big 12 turning the tables on the Pac-12 and stealing the best programs from the West Coast league for itself. “The Big 12 is actually pretty well run, and it has a pretty good set of TV deals,” Staples said. “Not as good as the SEC and the Big Ten, but pretty good.” Staples goes on to propose the Big 12 poach USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington and form a truly national 16-team mega conference. Current Pac-12 members aren’t happy with the current revenue situation in the conference, and they might be looking at non Pac-12 conferences as a means of improving it. USC athletic director Mike Bohn expressed dissatisfaction with his school’s current revenue stream and said “everything is on the table” regarding USC’s conference future. “There’s not talk of (leaving now), but guess what? If it was on the table, we would certainly explore that,” Bohn told CBS Sports. This isn’t exactly a “no-brainer” of a situation, neither from the Big 12 nor the proposed new members. For the Big 12, any expansion this large would need to bring with it A LOT more money via television deals to make it work. It’s possible that adding programs with the pedigree of USC and the others would generate the kind of TV-rights spike that makes the move profitable for everyone. But it’s not a guarantee that it would, either. On the potential new schools’ side, this move would be a monumental shift in their athletic programs and disrupt a century of rivalries and partnerships. Would the increase profitability be worth the disruption? Would the state legislatures of California, Oregon and Washington allow the four schools from those states to leave their in-state brethren high and dry? What about the additional travel burden to both the schools and their fans? Is the money worth any and all these and other issues? If the history of the cutthroat world of conference pilfering has taught us anything it’s that money talks and everything else walks. It’s also taught us that the Big 12 hasn’t shown itself to be a skilled hunter in this world. There’s nothing that will likely change the former. But maybe the Big 12 is ready to change the latter. Part 2: What would a mega Big 12/16 conference look like? How would it work? What would it mean for WVU?

A Strong Debut for Newcomers UCF

Everyone knows not to expect much from games one and two before you begin the more brutal slate of heading toward conference play – unless you are the Mountaineers. UCF padded their schedule with an easy non-conference opponent of the Kent State Golden Flashes. In this contest, the UCF Golden Knights were favored to win by a spread of 35.5 points. So, while the media gave as much attention to Kent State pulling an upset as our own Week 2 matchup against Duquesne University, there are a few takeaways that Neal Brown (barring any fallout as the head coach) must be prepared to face: Plumlee Is a Power Five Quarterback Many believed UCF might have trouble adjusting to a Power Five (Four?) conference, but you would not know it to look at the quarterback play. Granted, this was a soft opponent, but Plumlee alone contributed to 371 yards of total offense with his legs and arm. This is an elusive threat that is anything but a stand-and-deliver pocket passer. It is important to remember that John Rhys Plumlee led UCF in rushing yards last season and was listed among the top ten rushers in the AAC for 2022. Receivers Share the Load Xavier Townsend and Javon Baker shared the lion’s share of targets, with 6 and 7, respectively. These two top targets for the Golden Knights combined for 140 yards in the season opener. Baker would tally up 56 receptions last year in the run-heavy Knight offense, combining these catches for nearly 800 yards. He will also be a contributor this season with his likely final year of eligibility. Defense Might Not Be Their Strong Suit Everyone is quick to bring up the potentially electric offense when they speak of the University of Central Florida, but there is considerably less chatter about the defense. Regarding turnovers alone, UCF ranked in the bottom third of the conference in the metrics for the past season. Heading into the Big 12 will undoubtedly show them some formidable offenses that can capitalize. Issues with Ball Security As exciting as the fast-paced Golden Knight offense might be, their success in the past several seasons has been a high-risk/high reward. For the most part, this has been worth putting the ball in places or situations where interceptions or fumbles might be more likely. Kent State was not a worry for UCF, yet the Golden Flashes still managed to force a fumble and rack up two interceptions in the drubbing Thursday. Despite the cracks in the knights' armor, it is easy to see why many analysts have placed the team in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 despite their needing to rise to stiffer competition. Playing all the newcomers to the league this season, this could be one of the more challenging road games besides the emotionally charged trip to Houston two games before heading down the coast. The West Virginia Mountaineers do not make this trip to tangle with the Golden Knights until October 28th. By this time in our schedule, we can hope to have an established offense and defensive personality and be making our mark as anything but a team picked to finish last in the conference. (photo from AZCentral)

WATCH: HGTV Star Hits Incredible Shot

Chip Gaines, star of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”, lives in Waco, Texas and is a huge Baylor Bears fan. Prior to Baylor’s game against the Iowa State Cyclones, Gaines shot a half court shot and nailed it on his very first attempt.  Check out the incredible shot from everyone’s favorite handyman below: https://twitter.com/chipgaines/status/1222656222656192517?s=21 The Mountaineers play the #1 ranked Baylor Bears on Feb. 15 in Waco and then again in the regular season finale in Morgantown on March 7th.  We’d love to welcome Gaines and family to the Coliseum for that huge Big 12 game.

West Virginia Isn’t the WORST Team in the Big 12

  Cover Photo: Tyler Prusina, The DA Morgantown, West Virginia - During the preseason, we all had expectations on what the Big 12 would look like this season. Oklahoma and Baylor would round out the top, Oklahoma State and Texas would be competing for that third-place spot. Kansas State, WVU, and Texas Tech would be in the middle of the pack, and TCU and Kansas would be the bottom dwellers. Surprisingly in a weird Big 12, Oklahoma is the worst team in the league, and Kansas and TCU are the two best teams in the league. Now, you might be thinking, isn't West Virginia the worst team in the league? No, they aren't. Oklahoma is much worse, and has a real shot of being blown out by WEST VIRGINIA in Morgantown on November 12th. Even though WVU played against Texas's backup quarterback last week, they didn't have the neutral site advantage that Oklahoma had today. WVU played in a HOSTILE environment against a Texas team that is proving itself to NOT be out of the Big 12 title race by any stretch. Oklahoma played against the EXACT same defense that WVU did, but West Virginia was able to put up 20 points against them and not completely embarrass themselves. Oklahoma could not say the same this week with a 49-0 loss to the same Texas team that gave up 20 points to WVU last week. The Red River Showdown takes place in a neutral site field that is 50/50 for each fan base and by the time the second half started, the Sooners side started to leave like rats on a sinking ship. Then who can Oklahoma even beat this season? Honestly, there may not be another win on their schedule. The worst team that Oklahoma plays this season is West Virginia. I would say that would be a win if that was in Norman, but it is in Morgantown. The other plausible win they MIGHT have is against Iowa State, and that AGAIN is an away game for them. Oklahoma has Kansas next week, and the Jayhawks will be out for blood after today's heartbreaking loss against TCU. How big would a win against the Sooners be for the Mountaineers? For WVU and our fanbase? HUGE. WVU has never beaten OU since joining the Big 12. It doesn't matter how bad Oklahoma is, a win against the Sooners before they leave for the SEC will be a MASSIVE momentum boost for the Mountaineers.

Can West Virginia Win Out?

West Virginia has finally generated some buzz this season. In an interview, Neal Brown just recently stated that he is ‘not surprised’ that WVU is 3-1 – I wish I could say the same. I was one of those who expected this to be a season where the team crashed and burned, hopefully rising from the ashes spectacularly, like TCU dropping Gary Patterson, Kansas releasing Les Miles, and so on. However, that is not what it looks like will happen. Now, you have to have the conversation along with the other major outlets of if WVU is capable of not only winning more of their games but potentially winning all their remaining games. Crazy, right? Some would say a little too crazy. But it is interesting to consider that if the defense continues to hold teams to a limited number, as they did with Texas Tech, is it possible? You must consider that Tech is not a team used to being held to 13 points, even in games they lose. They have not scored less than 30 points in a game this year and only did so a few times last season in their run to the Texas Bowl. Pitt is another example in our season of teams used to putting up points that are stymied before they can. Pitt hosted the (15) UNC Tarheels last weekend, and while they suffered yet another loss, they hung 24 points on the rapidly rising team. And yes, still with their amazing quarterback, Phil Jurkovec. We held Pitt to 6 points when they came to Morgantown. So, when do you feel good about getting on the hype train rolling through? When does it derail, I guess, is the better question? Can you win out in the conference – let’s take a look at the remaining games of the schedule: @ TCU – This weekend will be a true test of this Neal Brown squad. You aren’t getting thrown into the jaws of the University of Texas machine chomping through conference right now, but you are facing the former contenders for the National Championship. Chandler Morris lacks the spirit of Max Duggan, but has the full support of the Frogs fanbase. Lines vary considerably from a touchdown to 10 points, favoring the Horned Frogs. This is an absolutely pivotal game to get people sitting on the fence believing in the team. TCU is one of three seriously challenging opponents on the schedule for the Mountaineers and one of several games WVU is still projected to handily lose. But – do they? Win/Loss: If a win, it comes down to the wire. @ Houston – This will be more of a fight (at least for the first ½ to ¾ of the game) than it seems. Dana does not want to keep losing, as his seat is warming in Houston as it is. It might be entirely on fire if they drop another conference game to Texas Tech this weekend before our matchup on the road. While Holgorsen might not be worried about his spot as Head Coach, you can bet he puts together a well-thought-out scheme focused on any weaknesses we have shown. He has a bye week, too, remember? Win/Loss: Big win for the program Oklahoma State – Oklahoma State and Baylor are both sprinting to be the worst in the conference, and we face the Cowboys first in our games against Gundy and Aranda. OSU did get some life this past weekend but still lost to Iowa State, another one of this year’s disappointing programs, and should not be much of a test for the Mountaineers at home as long as they play all four quarters to completion. Win/Loss: Win @ UCF – This is where I think the schedule starts to get weird. Traveling to play in Central Florida is going to be a challenge. The fanbase there is large and loud, and while I do not believe that UCF is as good of a team as TCU is or Oklahoma, I do think that they are a lot to deal with if all of their offensive pieces are active at this point. Win/Loss: Close Loss BYU – You can look at this like the Backyard Brawl revisited. Slovis was the QB for the Panthers against his former teammate, JT Daniels, last year when the rivalry reignited in Pittsburgh. A high-profile team that could be getting right by this point of the year should make for a rock fight in Morgantown that is too close for comfort. Win/Loss: Close win. @ Oklahoma – There is no mistake that the two teams voted most likely to leave the conference next year for the SEC are leading the conference – at least right now. I am firmly in the camp that Oklahoma has yet to see a real test, and they have a few tough games on their slate coming up that might show us some ways to exploit their offensive strategies or defensive capabilities to slip one by the Sooners in Norman. Win/Loss: At least at this point, loss. Cincinnati – Who is Cincinnati going to be in the conference? Our former Big East opponent kicks off our series of future games in Morgantown, a distinct disadvantage for them. We are going to get one of two types of games here depending on how the game went a week before against the Sooners – either you have a Mountaineer squad riding high at 8-2 on the season, or you have a banged up and tired field product that keeps this one competitive until the final whistle. Win/Loss: regardless of the style of the game, WVU wins. @ Baylor – The Bears will have to work hard to get out of the bad reputation they are building for themselves across the conference. They all but laid down and took whatever the Texas Longhorns had to give last week, so it is not shocking to think that they might only be in it to play spoiler for a...

Home cooked: Coliseum no cure as disastrous collapse continues

A stamp costs 55 cents. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins might want to dig in his pockets for some change, because his Mountaineers appear to be fully committed to mailing this season in https://youtu.be/QiZdY9rw-uo. A beleaguered West Virginia team returned home on Saturday. Fans believed (hoped?) that an arrival to the friendly confines of the WVU Coliseum would snap the Mountaineers out of their February malaise that resulted in five losses in their last six games. It did no such thing. Oklahoma (18-11, 8-8 Big 12) embarrassed the Mountaineers, 73-62, on Saturday. A WVU contingent that arrived at the Coliseum desperate but hopeful departed in depressed resignation. There are two regular-season games left to play, plus the Big 12 Tournament and whatever post-season tournament invites the Mountaineers (19-10, 7-9). In what was unthinkable even a week ago, that tournament is as likely to be the NIT as the NCAA. Maybe more so. Glass half-full fans (or one-tenth full might be more accurate here) will point to the frantic effort the Mountaineers gave in the last six minutes. WVU cut a 20-plus point Sooners lead to eight with two minutes left. But that is a case of way too little, way too late. West Virginia legend Rod Thorn, who had his number 44 retired on Saturday, implored the Mountaineers during the halftime ceremony. “We need to play a great second half,” Thorn told the crowd. His alma mater didn’t take heed. This game was lost in the first five to 10 minutes of that second half. Oklahoma turned a four-point halftime lead into more than 20 points during that stretch. One team opened the second half with the energy one would expect from a home team in search of a desperately needed win. That team wasn’t West Virginia. The Mountaineers offense looked discombobulated (as it has for a month). WVU was awful in every aspect of shooting: Field goals (24-for 70, 34.3 percent); foul shots (10-for-19, 52.6 percent); and 3-point shooting (4-for-25, 16 percent). Those numbers are in line with what the Mountaineers have shot during this six losses in seven games stretch. Their defense had numerous lapses that resulted in far too many open shots (as it has for a month). Oklahoma lit up the Mountaineers defense, hitting 26-for-53 from the field (49.1 percent). That, too, is about in line for what the Mountaineers have allowed during this six losses in seven games stretch. Oklahoma had four players - Kristian Doolittle (19 points) Brady Manek (15), Austin Reaves (13) and Jamal Bieniemy (12) – in double figures. The Mountaineers had one - Miles McBride (13). The awful shooting is frustrating, but this hasn’t been a good shooting team all season. It’s the defensive collapse that is most troublesome. Statistically, the Mountaineers have gone from one of the best defensive teams in the country to one of the worst. Shooting can run hot and cold. Defense does not. This speaks to deeper internal problems of effort and focus, which Huggins has diagnosed but failed to fix. "In my all years, I haven't gone through a year like a year ago and the end of this year," Huggins said. "I've never gone through it." The Mountaineers have ANOTHER chance to try salvage this late-season disaster on Tuesday when they travel to Iowa State. They close the regular season at home against No. 2 Baylor on March 7. St. Jude  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jude_the_Apostle would struggle to find hope for another victory this season. This team looks nothing like the one that played so well and so hard for the first two-thirds of the season. This team looks troublingly similar to the 2018-19 train wreck of a squad. At least last year’s team got better late in the season. This year’s West Virginia team is instead doing its best “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” impersonation.

REPORT: Arizona is Moving Towards Joining Big 12

Arizona to the Big 12 appears to be all but a done deal.   Tuscon, AZ - With conference realignment in full gear, many are anticipating who will make the next move that causes a ripple effect nationwide. It now appears that we have that answer. According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Arizona is in “deep discussions” with the Big 12 about joining the conference. https://twitter.com/petethamel/status/1687262837582798848?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw Thamel also added that “some finality” is to be expected very soon as the Arizona Board of Regents has a meeting later tonight. Should the Wildcats make the move, then it is likely that Arizona State will also join the Big 12. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by University of Arizona Athletics)

Gold jerseys, blue collars: Workmanlike effort results in ‘W’

West Virginia and Oklahoma State played a contest Monday night that can charitably be described as, aesthetically, hideous. The Mountaineers also won. WVU and coach Bob Huggins will take that over the opposite of both every time. West Virginia's 55-41 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., revealed a few things. It revealed who the better team was (WVU). It revealed who had more talent (WVU). And it revealed that this 2019-20 Mountaineers squad has the fortitude to put in the dirty work to grind out ugly but necessary victories against inferior Big 12 road opponents. That last part is important. With its 18-game, round-robin conference schedule, the Big 12 is ripe with opportunities for teams to lose games they should win - especially on the road. Monday night was just such an opportunity for West Virginia (12-2, 1-1 Big 12). The Mountaineers were coming off a quick turnaround from a tough road loss at Kansas into a road game at Oklahoma State (9-5, 0-2). They were coming off of playing in a peak-energy road atmosphere into a half-filled arena in Stillwater with an apathetic crowd. It was an early January game against a middling conference opponent. The recipe was there for a lackluster effort and a ho-hum road conference loss. But these Mountaineers aren't built for that. They play too hard. They defend too voraciously. They crash the glass with too much abandon. They are too deep. If the win over Ohio State showed this team's ceiling (and, in a less positive direction, so did the loss to Kansas), Monday night's grind over Oklahoma State showed this team's floor. West Virginia is limited by a below average offense that struggles to make shots. But WVU is also buoyed by relentless effort on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor. Shooting goes hot and cold. Those do not. West Virginia lacks the experience and scoring acumen to be a realistic Final Four contender. But the Mountaineers have the depth and intensity on defense and in rebounding to make significant noise in March. The Mountaineers aren't going to look pretty in games like these they should win. But they're going to win them.  

How would an expanded Big 12 work?

Part 2 of 2 In the first part of this series, we examined the possibility that the Big 12 make a bold move to go after six Pac-12 schools – USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington – to make a mega conference with a national sea-to-almost-shining-sea footprint. In Part 1 we looked at the benefits and pitfalls of the potential move http://voiceofmotown.com/should-the-big-12-get-really-big/. In Part 2, we examine a nuts-and-bolts logistics plan if it was to happen. To start, we will focus on how this would work for the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball. Women’s basketball would likely work the same way. There are too many other sports with too many variables to calculate here. It is possible that, if this mega conference were to come into being, that it would it apply ONLY to football and basketball. No conference has gone this route all the way, but for a conference with about 3,000 miles between some schools, this would be the way to go. It’s one thing to send West Virginia’s football team to Eugene, Ore., for a game. The revenue gain makes that at least palatable. It makes no sense to annually send the WVU baseball team on that kind of road trip. This 16-team conference (we’ll call it the Big 16 going forward) would have to be divided into two eight-team divisions. With the way the geography works, an East and West division split makes the most sense. The former Pac-12 schools would make up six of the eight West teams. The next determination is which two of the former Big 12 schools would join them. It’s likely a foregone conclusion that Texas would be one of those schools. As the school with the highest revenue pool, the Big 12 would likely have to offer a Texas carrot to the Pac-12 departures as incentive to make the move. Oklahoma is the other big-money draw in the current Big 12. But moving both Oklahoma and Texas to the division with the Pac-12 schools would make the divisions grossly uneven competitively in football. Also, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma likely would have to be linked. So Texas is in the West with the Pac-12 schools. Texas Tech is the furthest west school in the current Big 12, so the Red Raiders make the most sense to join the Longhorns in the new Big 16 West division. With this divide, for competitive play purposes, it’s better to think of it as two mini eight-team divisions rather than think of things in 16-team terms. The conference would still play nine conference games. For football, as a member of the Big 16 East, West Virginia would have seven conference games against East division teams (four home, three away; opposite the next year) and two (one home, one away) against the West. Having one road game against the West would reduce the cross-country travel to only one game per year. That isn’t too taxing. Mathematically, this set up means that WVU would host the West schools once every eight years. For example, USC would travel to Morgantown once every eight years. That would be a great game for Mountaineers fans to attend. The fly in the ointment here is, with Texas and Oklahoma in opposite divisions, the longtime rivals would only play once every four years. It’s doubtful either school would be satisfied with that arrangement. The new league likely would capitulate that Texas and Oklahoma would continue the Red River Rivalry annually. As such, WVU would only play Texas once every eight years and only host the Longhorns once every 16. That would effectively put an end to the “Horns Down” rivalry that has developed between WVU and Texas. The Big 16 Conference championship game would be between the East and West champions. It’s likely this game would float between Dallas, Glendale, Ariz., and the new football stadium in Los Angeles. WVU has yet to reach the Big 12 title game. The Big 16 championship game would be a little easier to earn a spot, but not much. Now, WVU has to best eight teams to make the title game. In this format, the Mountaineers would have to finish ahead of seven. Devising a plan for football is fairly straight forward, except for the Red River Rivalry issue. Basketball is a little more complicated. Here is the best plan as we see it. The schools would be in the same divisions in football and basketball. And like in our football plan, the basketball format will treat the Big 16 not as a one large conference as much as it makes it into two mini conferences. Here is the plan outlined in a WVU-centric way. WVU, as a member of the Big 16 East, will play 18 conference games, same as now. But the Mountaineers would play home and home against the other seven East division teams. That leaves four games against the West division. These games will be played on a rotating basis, with two home, two away. Splitting the conference into divisions that are mini conferences unto themselves is a way to reduce the burdensome travel that a coast=to-coast conference entails. WVU would have two West Coast trips annually (at USC and at Arizona one year, at Washington and at UCLA the next, for example). That is much more feasible than would be the case if the Mountaineers played every team in the conference every year. This mini-conference format would extend into the conference tournament. With this plan, the Big 16 East and the Big 16 West play on opposite sides of the bracket, with the winners from each meeting in the Big 16 championship game. You could even extend this idea further and hold the East and West brackets in different locations - say the East in Kansas City and the West in Los Angeles. Then the championship game could alternate between the two or even play someplace completely different like Dallas. Logistically, there are some burdensome problems with this possible expansion. But once you split the conference into East and West conferences, the issues aren’t much worse than what West Virginia...

Week 1 Big 12 Games That Give WVU a Look at What’s Ahead

Every Big 12 team sees action in this busy Week One lineup, but many of these matchups matter little the Mountaineers who will not face Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State, or Kansas on our regular season schedule. Maybe we face them in the Big 12 Championship this year, right? While some of these schools are off to the races against opponents that are vastly outgunned, some of these competitions might be worth watching with the conference schedule mere weeks away. You can skip out on Oklahoma hosting Arkansas State, Baylor hosting Texas State, BYU hosting Sam Houston State, and Central Arkansas at Oklahoma State. These games are fodder for the schedule and barring something electric, should go exactly as predicted. Here are the Big 12 matchups you need to track this weekend: Colorado @ TCU – 12:00 PM on FOX This matchup is interesting in that it is part of a home and away series that is wrapping up this year before Colorado becomes a conference opponent next season. Last year, TCU and their storied run to the National Championship began in Colorado, facing the Buffaloes and resulting in a 38-13 win for the Horned Frogs. Colorado went 1-11 last year, but after some overhauling in the offseason could be poised for an upset in a very highly hyped year before joining the Big 12 competitors in 2024. Eastern Kentucky @ Cincinnati – 3:30 PM on ESPN+ You might look at this and go – really? Yeah. EKU finished 7-5 last year in their conference, and while certainly nowhere near the competition and parity of the Big 12, they might have the talent to keep this one closer than it seems. Cincinnati was left in a complete rebuild mode when Luke Fickell made the move into the Big Ten as the Head Coach of Wisconsin. They are projected, not unlike the Mountaineers, to be in the bottom portion of the final conference standings, which might make this one an exciting game to preview what’s to come for the Bearcats. UTSA @ Houston – 7:00 PM on FS1 Dana Holgorsen and company went 8-5 overall last year, but UTSA made for a shaky start. While the Cougars came away with the win in overtime, Houston fans were alarmed at how UTSA went the distance. The betting line for this game currently has UTSA favored by 1.5 points, which has given Houston a chip on their shoulder as the UTSA Roadrunners hit the road on a mission for revenge. Keep an eye on this one, it may very well be the kind of dogfight WVU expects in mid-October on the road. Texas Tech @ Wyoming – 7:30 PM on CBS Texas Tech shocked a lot of teams last year, including the Mountaineers with their fast-paced and unrelenting form of offense. Hitting the road in Week 1 is a trial, even if you are favored by more than two touchdowns. Any given Saturday, and the Red Raiders are looking to get Tyler Shough out there with his third chance to lead the offense, with both of the prior seasons ended early by injuries. This is a coin flip because while lopsided on paper, Wyoming boasts double digit returning talent on the defensive side of the ball that could make the game less of a gimme for the boys from Lubbock, TX. Either before the matchup of Week 1 with the WVU Mountaineers heading into Happy Valley to face (7) Penn State or when you can tear your eyes away from the screen, be sure to follow some of these developing storylines. (photo by CBS Sports)

ISU latest victim of WVU home cooking

The goal in college basketball is excellence in March. But performance in February dictates how (and if) the logistics of a team’s March Madness opportunity. West Virginia is off to a smooth start in the year’s shortest month, as the Mountaineers won their second game in as many February tries Wednesday night in a 76-61 pasting of Iowa State at the WVU Coliseum. West Virginia (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) found its offensive groove early and often. The Mountaineers shot 29-for-58 from the field, though they did struggle behind the 3-point arc (6-of-22). It was a balanced scoring attack as five Mountaineers scored in double figures, led by Oscar Tshiebwe’s 16 points. Chase Harler (14), Derek Culver (12), Emmitt Mathews Jr. (12) and Jermaine Haley (11) also tallied double-digit scoring. Mathews effort was another encouraging sign as he appears to be clawing his way back from a serious midseason slump. Defensively, the Mountaineers were their typical stingy selves. Iowa State (9-13, 2-6) struggled to find the basket all night. The Cyclones hit just 23-of-58 shots from the field and were 5-for-16 from 3-point range. West Virginia forced 14 ISU turnovers. As they have all season, the Mountaineers dominated the glass. West Virginia out-rebounded Iowa State, 46-28. Tshiebwe led WVU with 10 boards in tallying a double-double. West Virginia is ostensibly chasing Baylor and Kansas in the race for the Big 12 regular season title. But, with a three-game deficit to No. 1 ranked Baylor and a two-game deficit to third-ranked Kansas, that’s a mountain likely too tall to scale. What is well within reach for these Mountaineers, however, is a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and a chance to play first- and second-round games within driving distance for their fans. WVU’s ability to humble and dispirit conference opponents when they come to the Coliseum has been the fuel behind this season’s surge. The Mountaineers aren’t just beating these teams at home. They’re demoralizing them. West Virginia’s road show hasn’t been nearly as impressive. And that’s where the Mountaineers go next as they visit Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday. Racking up impressive looking victories at home helps the NCAA resume. Winning road games against good teams defines it. It’s the only thing missing this season. But February is a prime opportunity for WVU to stack a few to impress the selection committee. Time will tell if Wednesday night’s offensive fireworks were an aberration resulting from playing an overmatched team in a comfortable home environment or a harbinger of better things to come. If it’s the latter, the next two months could be special.

Venables vs. Brown: More Similar Than We Thought

Morgantown, West Virginia -- In a recent YouTube video by MattBeGreat, he described everything that was wrong with Brent Venables, and it sounded EERILY similar to what we are dealing with in Morgantown RIGHT NOW! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N02l6iEDzqI   In the video, he said that Venables is a great guy, but he is not head coach material. Venables has a team motto called "Trust the Process", which is almost identical to Brown's catchphrase of "Trust the Climb". Another thing that he mentioned is that Venables is NOT tough enough with his players to motivate them when they are not playing well, which makes them give up after the first quarter of almost every game that they are losing. Now, we haven't seen that level of collapse from WVU yet, but we have seen another flaw that comes with being too nice, NO discipline. In the second half of games (minus the Texas game), West Virginia looks like an entirely different team. They make more mistakes, have more drops, more mental errors, and more penalties than they do in the prior half. This has been the inevitable downfall for them in their losses this year (mainly Pitt and Kansas). Matt also said that he had faith in Venables at the beginning of the season and seemed like the right hire for Oklahoma. He later went on to say that he was dead wrong. Venables is turning a proud program in the wrong direction, and it is unacceptable with how good Oklahoma is year in and year out. The only reason that West Virginia hasn't seen a drop in success like Oklahoma has this year is that we have far inferior talent than Oklahoma has. Both coaches do NOT know what they are doing, and again, both are identical in the fact that they were great coaches at the level they were coaching before, but not where they are at now. Neal Brown is meant to be a G5 Head Coach and nothing higher, and Venables is meant to be a Defensive Coordinator, and not a Head Coach (especially at Oklahoma). Will Oklahoma fire Venables? In year one, when do they still owe money to the Big 12 if they want to leave the conference early? No, but they will suffer from the same incompetent play calls and coaching that WVU has dealt with for the entirety of Brown's tenure. At least Venables is ONLY in year one, Neal Brown doesn't have that excuse...

Week 5 Games That Impact WVU Moving Forward

There are a few games happening this weekend that you should keep an eye on while you wait for the late start we have Saturday night at 8 PM against the Horned Frogs. These games should paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of competition we have coming up. More than that, you can gauge how you feel the Mountaineers are stacking up against the competition of the Big 12 while making a day of competitive college football. Here are my three games you should follow up on: Cincinnati @ BYU This Friday night kickoff should draw a lot of attention to the conference, which is good. Given the need for both teams to establish themselves as a prominent force entering the Big 12 this year, this should be a battle for all four quarters. BYU might not be as talented as Cincinnati is this year, and they are licking their wounds after being assaulted by the Kansas Jayhawks, but it is difficult for a team to head into Provo and win. Period. Since the 2020 season, they have only lost three games at home. You can catch this one by staying up late for the 10:15 EST kickoff tonight on ESPN. (24) Kansas @ (3) Texas Kansas can play spoiler to the Texas Longhorns steamroller right now. Austin is a hostile place to play and an even harder venue to win when UT is rolling. But, Kansas had already upset the Longhorns the last time they took the trip down to the Lone Star State. You can expect to either see one of the greatest games of the Big 12 this year, which I expect could be better than the Red River Rivalry/Shootout, or see Kansas buckle under the pressure of being ranked and playing in such a high-profile game against a Top 5 opponent. Either way, this game WILL have Big 12 Conference Title Game implications, regardless of the victor. Kickoff for this one is 3:30 Saturday afternoon on ESPN. Houston @ Texas Tech This is a contest that all Mountaineers should pay attention to, as it is sure to give you an idea of what to expect not only from Houston in our next game, but even from TCU in the game yet to begin. When Houston travels to Texas Tech, most expect this to be a get-right game for the Red Raiders, and dominance from TTU will only solidify the idea that TCU hasn’t yet been tested, that we beat a Tech team that was better than advertised, and we can glean some strategies of success by how Texas Tech performs against the Cougars. Don’t sleep on Houston, though. Dana took this one the distance last year 33-30 in a close loss when TTU made the trip to TDECU Stadium. This one is also set for 3:30 on FS2. Yeah there are plenty more games that you can watch and get a measure of the competition WVU still has to face, but these games should be handily one-sided, such as Kansas State playing Oklahoma State or Baylor traveling to Orlando to take on Central Florida. These listed matchups above should be good football and help to establish the hierarchy of the Big 12 by answering some questions about where teams belong in the breakdown after Week 2 of conference play. Photo Credit: NBC-Dallas