WVU, Big 12 . . . and the ACC?
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WHEN THE NEWS first leaked the Big 12 athletic directors are supporting a scheduling alliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference, one question leaped to mind.
Forbes magazine reported Big 12 teams would have the highest per-team financial haul this season. WVU's conference aligned itself with football kingpin SEC for its 2015 version of the Rose Bowl - the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. And the final Sagarin computer conference rankings had the SEC and Big 12 finishing 1-2 for 2012-13. The Big 12 was actually closer to the SEC in those rankings than the Pac-12 and Big Ten were to the Big 12.
So why would the Big 12 consider aligning or getting near or even within shouting distance of the football-weak ACC? If the goal is to pump up the league's non-conference schedules, why not call SEC commissioner Mike Slive again? Why not text Pac-12 commish Larry Scott or Big Ten head Jim Delany?
Also, didn't West Virginia recently cancel a football game with the ACC's best football program in Florida State?
Know, though, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck is in favor of the alliance.
"I like the idea," Luck said on Thursday. "There are still a lot of questions on what [the alliance] really means, but I like it."
He - and perhaps only he within the Big 12 - should.
"For [WVU] it's good," Luck said. "I can't say why Iowa State would support it, but for us it makes sense."
Indeed, Mountaineer fans would be better able to literally follow their team for a couple games a year. Also, there are and will be old WVU rivals in the ACC.
"When the Pac-12 and Big Ten had an alliance, I thought that was smart," Luck said. "Of course, that's since been stopped, but it made sense. The ACC will be good for us. It might be a way to get Pitt back on the schedule."
It probably won't be a way to get Florida State back on the schedule, but WVU fans could see old Big East rivals Pitt, Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech, Louisville and, yes, Syracuse.
Pitt and Virginia Tech should always be on WVU's schedule. The former was a terrific, storied traditional game. The latter was simply a kick-butt rivalry, especially for the southern part of the Mountain State.
That written, will playing any of the above give Big 12 teams edges in reaching a four-team national playoff? Probably not - at least not as the situation stands. Beating Florida State or Clemson might help, but victories over the other ACC teams will evoke yawns.
Luck hinted, though, that more alliances are on the horizon.
"With the five power conferences you'll see more of it," he said. "Bowls will be shared by maybe three conferences. The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 could share one [bowl], so fans aren't always going to the same cities. I think fans will like that."
Mountaineer fans could like an ACC alliance as well. More games would be within driving distance. Old rivalries could be rekindled.
But WVU fans shouldn't get too excited one way or the other yet. The Pac-12 and Big Ten alliance fell apart because of scheduling philosophical differences. This Big 12-ACC deal could as well.
In addition to the potential of an alliance, the Big 12 is exploring the possibility of a league championship game. Currently, NCAA rules state a conference must have 12 teams. But Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby, whose league has just 10, said he might ask for an exemption.
"His thought is it's wise to do the NCAA stuff and have it in pocket in case there's a consensus to have [a championship]," Luck said. "Now, with the new playoff structure, is it wise to have one? Can it help or hurt?"
Luck wouldn't disclose his stance, but it sounds as if he's against the idea.
"All agree it's smart to petition the NCAA," Luck said. "I'm not sure if I'm for or against a [league championship] game ... Of course, the NCAA may say no."
WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins continues to struggle with his current team.
"I thought we had the pieces," he reiterated on Thursday.
In a brief conversation, Huggins said a postseason shakeup is "a definite possibility." He said assistants Larry Harrison and Ronnie Everhart are looking hard at recruits, including those in junior colleges.
Huggins has some nice power forwards in the fold for next season. Of course, he also needs shooters.
"[Recruit] Nathan Adrian can shoot it," said the Mountaineer coach. "He's a good player. And I like our two freshmen, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson. Terry's been hurt, though. He had a bad back, then came back and was dumped on it again."
Morgantown High's Adrian, you might know, recently broke a bone in his foot and is out for 6-to-8 weeks.
And finally ...
If you read Dave Hickman's piece on WVU's football coaching salaries in today's Gazette, you might be surprised that Dana Holgorsen and his staff will be making almost $500,000 more next season.
All I can figure is beer sales were very good at Milan Puskar Stadium last season.
The upside of fans drowning their sorrows?
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.