The Big 12 has yet to officially lose Mizzouri to the SEC, but the conference has already reportedly lined up a replacement should the expected move happen.
Take it with whatever size grain of salt you deem necessary, but the New York Post is reporting that the Big 12′s plans for expansion/holding steady entail keeping Missouri for the 2012 season and then adding West Virginia the following year. How the Big 12 plans to bypass the Big East 27-month requirement for schools leaving the conference is unknown; earlier this month, commissioner John Marinatto made it clear that the Big East will hold Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which have announced their plans to leave for the ACC, to the timeline contained in the league’s bylaws.
It’s assumed the Mountaineers, if the report is accurate and they decide to move on from the Big East, would be held to the same 27-month wait, which would mean the 2015-2016 school year before an exit could occur. Of course, money always talks in these types of situations, so all three schools will likely end up paying significant financial penalties in order to get out earlier.
As noted by an unnamed source to the Post, WVU’s departure would be a crippling blow to a conference that’s already lost three members — TCU reneged on a commitment to the Big East in favor of a Big 12 invite — in less than two months, leaving the beleaguered league with just six football-playing members.
“Of all the schools the league has lost, from a football standpoint losing West Virginia would be the most damaging,” a source told The Post. “Despite what anyone says, that’s the program the league has hung its hat on.”
It has previously been reported that the Big East will invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-playing members and UCF, SMU and Houston as members in all sports. It’s unclear how the uncertainty over the Mountaineers’ longterm viability in the Big East would affect those schools’ mindset in signing on to such an unstable environment, especially Boise State, whose concerns about the conference about the conference losing its automatic qualifier status in the BcS have been duly noted.
If Boise State decides to remain in the Mountain West… if West Virginia leaves… if the Big 12 decides to expand to 16 members and adds Louisville and Cincinnati as the Post reports is a possibility in such a scenario, the Big East as a football conference, let alone as an automatic qualifying conference, will cease to exist.
Of course, this is all predicated on Missouri and if/when they decide to make a decision on their future conference affiliation. Based on how that school’s chancellor parsed his words Monday, it now appears to be only a matter of when not if they announce a move to the SEC.
“[The Big 12 is] making some of the right moves, now, that are necessary for the Big 12 to do, and I wish them the best and all of that. So we’ll see where that goes,” Brady Deaton said following a meeting of the Big 12 Board of Directors Monday night.
UPDATED 12:39 p.m. ET: Both the New York Times and CBS Sports.com are confirming the Post‘s report, that West Virginia is the Big 12′s target should Mizzou do the expected and leave. The former writes that WVU has “applied and are accepted” into the Big 12; the latter reports that an official invitation will be extended to WVU within 24-48 hours after Mizzou notifies the conference of its intent to withdraw.
As for when Mizzou will spit or get off the expansion pot, Deaton said today that a public decision will be forthcoming in “days or possibly a week or two“, although again his words point to the SEC being in his school’s future.
“We’ve reached firmness in where we are headed,” Deaton said, “where we want to analyze and focus our attention.”