spt_wvu (copy)

WVU head football coach Neal Brown talks to the Mountaineers after the Gold-Blue spring game in April in Morgantown.

Nobody needs to push the panic button.

Hand-wringing in despair?

Nah, that isn’t necessary, either.

Just because West Virginia University was predicted to finish eighth in the recent Big 12 preseason media poll, there’s no reason for Mountaineer fans to take the Chicken Little approach and cry, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

It’s not.

Will WVU finish eighth in the Big 12 in 2019?


Maybe not.

The fun is in finding out.

Something to keep in mind is the 77 media members who voted were consistent in one area. They voted the four schools with new head coaches — WVU, Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State — as the bottom four in the preseason poll.

That’s meaningful.

It’s also slightly prejudicial to assume a first-year coach is going to struggle. It depends on what his predecessor left behind.

In the case of WVU’s Neal Brown, the answer is: not much. That’s why the eighth-place prediction isn’t all that surprising. Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Nobody knows.

Again, that’s the fun in finding out.

The bottom line is WVU probably is going to struggle to have a winning season in 2019. As athletic director Shane Lyons says, if the Mountaineers are bowl eligible it will be a successful season.

He’s right.

Either way, it promises to be a very interesting season.

EVEN WORSE: In this space on Tuesday, I detailed Conference USA’s struggles as it pertains to revenue from the College Football Playoff.

It turns out I was wrong.

In reality, it was far worse than first thought.

Thanks to some gracious insight from Sun Belt senior associate commissioner John McElwain, now we have the accurate financial picture and the correct pecking order in the Group of 5.

The leader was the Mountain West. It received $6.0 million in performance distribution and $20.4 million in total distribution. The American Athletic Conference was second with $4.8 million and $18.8 million, respectively.

Here is where it really gets interesting.

The third-place finisher in the Group of 5 was none other than the Sun Belt. It received $3.2 million in performance distribution and $17.6 in total distribution.

So, where does that leave Conference USA? Stuck in a very distant fourth place. Conference USA realized only $1.6 million in performance distribution — half as much as the Sun Belt — and $15.6 in total distribution.

Bringing up the rear was the Mid-American Conference. It received zero money in performance distribution and $14 million in total distribution.

Rather eye-opening, isn’t it?

Particularly as it pertains to the Sun Belt. Since it has only 10 members, each school received $320,000 as a bonus. But since Conference USA has 14 schools, its member received only $114,000.

So, Sun Belt schools received nearly three times the amount of C-USA members.

All this is rather noteworthy when a little history is added to the equation. Remember, not so long ago Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Western Kentucky were all members of the Sun Belt.

But five of those schools bolted to Conference USA in 2013, with Western Kentucky coming aboard in 2014.

Well, how’s that working out?

Not too well, apparently.

The current Sun Belt was much more prosperous than Conference USA in the College Football Playoff’s revenue distribution.

So, now, the big three are the Mountain West, AAC and Sun Belt.

Kudos to the Sun Belt.