The long dark night finally has a dawn. Thursday afternoon the Big 12 conference, for the second time this week, extended an invitation to West Virginia University to become the conferences 10th member.
The Mountaineers accepted and in a 7:00 am conference call Friday morning the Big 12 Board of Directors voted unanimously to add WVU.
Morgantown celebrated and poor Louisville hung its head in shame.
The Big East postured by releasing a statement saying WVU would be held to the 27-month waiting period as required by league bylaws.
Oliver Luck, showing no fear of the Providence Meatball, boldly stated WVU would not play in the Big East next year despite what Big East commissioner John Mariantto says.
The Mountaineers are gone!
The Mountaineers will buy their way out of the waiting period using the buyout blueprint given to Pittsburgh and Syracuse by the Big East.
Marinatto can complain and threaten but WVU has a copy of the proposed buyout and plans to use it to force the Big East to allow them to get the hell out.
West Virginia had notified Marinatto about their impending departure from the Big East last week before Louisville used Mitch McConnell to slow down the process in hopes of turning votes against WVU.
Louisville’s delay tactics didn’t work, but it did make an enemy of WVU almost overnight.
Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Nienas denied Louisville was a factor in the delay but leaks to the media by the few Louisville supporters in the Big 12 offset his assertions.
Louisville was a factor, but not the only one.
The delay was in part due to squabbling between Missouri and the Big 12 over the exit fee the Tigers will pay. The Tigers reasoned that WVU’s inclusion reduced the amount of damage their departure would cause. The Big 12 disagreed.
And it was during the discussions between the Tigers and the conference that McConnell made his move on behalf of Louisville.
It didn’t work. Louisville never had the votes.
What the Cardinals had was Oklahoma. The Sooners stood up for Louisville on the principle of opposing Texas.
Nienas, ever the consensus builder, was also a strong supporter of WVU but decided to try and add both WVU and Louisville.
WVU would have none of it.
The Big 12 pitched to WVU the idea of adding Louisville with each school taking a reduced of revenues until the TV contract can be redone.
WVU said no and the Cardinals were left to fend for themselves in the Big East.
Clements and Luck played hardball and they knew Fox Sports and ESPN had their back.
ESPN desperately wants Big East football to go away. And what better way to kill the conference that dared to tell them no than by stripping it of the most important football member?
Greed ruled the day.
Don’t shed too many tears for the Cardinals; they did it to themselves.
WVU had been on track for a full share in 2012 but the Big 12 decided instead to put the Mountaineers on the same revenue sharing scale as TCU. Instead the Big 12 will help WVU pay the buyout for the 27-month waiting period in the Big East.
The money funneled to WVU to help cover their exit costs will come from the exit fee paid by Missouri.
WVU contacted both the SEC and ACC on Sunday to give each a last chance of signing WVU. Both passed.
The SEC told WVU it had no plans to expand to 16 in the foreseeable future.
Many rumors are floating about the Internet claiming WVU was tapped to get an SEC invite when the SEC went to 16 later this year. There is no truth to that rumor. If the SEC had such plans it would have told WVU on Sunday and the Mountaineers would not have accepted the Big 12 offer.
According to WVU sources any rumors of WVU having talks with the SEC at anytime during the past three weeks are completely false.
WVU and the Big 12 began serious talks the night of October 7, 2011 and the Mountaineers almost exclusively focused on Big 12 membership since then.
The grant-of-rights required by the Big 12 will be signed by WVU by the middle of next week. Hopefully this will put an end to any SEC talk.
I’m surprised the SEC theorists haven’t claimed WVU will pull a TCU and withdraw from the Big 12 before ever playing a game in the conference. Once WVU signs the grant-of-rights even that claim will be certifiably bogus.