WVU's Big 12 football schedule involves heavy lifting
MORGANTOWN - The nuts and bolts have been known from the very beginning, specifically which teams West Virginia would play.
Still, it was an eye-opener as soon as it was released Wednesday: This is not the kind of football schedule WVU is used to playing.
Within an hour of the announcement of West Virginia's $20 million settlement with the Big East Tuesday, the Big 12 and the school announced the 2012 football schedules.
Try this on for size: Of WVU's five Big 12 home games, four are against teams that finished in the Top 25 last season. There is a back-to-back road trip to face Texas and then Texas Tech, and back-to-back games late in the season with Oklahoma at home and Oklahoma State on the road.
"I am excited about this year's schedule, especially since we will be competing in the Big 12," second-year Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen said in the school's release. "I am familiar with the conference and know the challenges that are ahead of us. Mixing our conference schedule with Maryland, Marshall and James Madison, the offseason becomes even more important to our preparation."
The schedule begins with three non-conference games before the nine-game Big 12 slate begins. Marshall comes to Morgantown for the last game in that series on Sept. 1, then after an open week there is the neutral-site game with James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., followed by a home game with Maryland.
The Big 12 opener is Sept. 29 against Baylor.
"I know our fans will be looking forward to having the Big 12 schools visit Milan Puskar Stadium this fall," WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said in announcing the schedule. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our department, and the challenges ahead are certainly exciting."
Among the challenges are those back-to-back games in Texas - Oct. 6 at Texas and Oct. 13 at Texas Tech. Kansas State comes to Morgantown Oct. 20 before an open week.
After that, the season concludes with TCU at home, Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma at home, at Iowa State and the regular-season finale Dec. 1 against Kansas and new coach Charlie Weis.
With finances tight because of the settlement with the Big East and graduated revenue sharing during the first three years in the Big 12, West Virginia was given a break when the Big 12 scheduled five home games in league play. That will be just four in 2013 and will alternate thereafter.
Along with the non-conference home games against Marshall and Maryland and the neutral-site game with James Madison, that gives the school in essence eight money-making games in 2012.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1