Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia University does not belong in the Big 12 Conference. Nothing about the Mountaineers playing in the Big 12 makes sense…except for the money.
Outside of the 40 million reasons annually, the Mountaineers playing in the Big 12 has been a disaster. When West Virginia moved to the Big 12, it was out of necessity; the Big East was collapsing and the Mountaineers needed to find a new home. Mission accomplished, but has West Virginia ever really fit into the Big 12 Conference? No.
The nearest conference opponent is Iowa State. Ames, Iowa, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, is 861.8 miles from Morgantown, West Virginia, home of the Mountaineers. That’s a 13 hour and 10 minute drive or a 7 and 1/2 hour flight.
COVID has forced everyone, particularly businesses and universities, to re-think everything. How can West Virginia University justify continuing to play in a conference on the other side of the country?
In Ivan Maisel’s excellent article on realignment called “Why Now is the Time to Reconsider Conference Realignment” (https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29706013/why-now-reconsider-college-conference-realignment), he starts the article off by saying, “Hey, here’s a great idea during a pandemic: Let’s have West Virginia fly 1,400 miles to play a Big 12 game at Texas Tech on Oct. 24, but let’s not allow West Virginia to play Pittsburgh. After all, the Panthers, 75 miles away, are in the ACC.”
The coronavirus has forced us to look at the ridiculousness that we’ve always accepted square in the eyes. How insane is it that West Virginia University will fly its student-athletes halfway across the country to play a football game, but somehow playing a non-conference game against Maryland is too risky?
With that said, West Virginia will not leave the Big 12 anytime soon. The money is too great and the risk/reward analysis would make it impossible to move.
That’s why we can only hope that the NCAA finally considers a major conference realignment. Now is the perfect time for the NCAA to make reasonable, logical changes that places schools with their geographic rivals.
Imagine West Virginia in a conference with re-established rivalries like Pitt, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Maryland, etc. COVID has been terrible in virtually every way, but it has also given us an opportunity to re-assess and make changes that will benefit everyone.