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Updated: Louisville behind WVU-to-Big 12 snag?

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What started as a hiccup for West Virginia’s seemingly inevitable invite to the Big 12 has now turned to reports that the Mountaineers have been blocked (so to speak) for Big 12 entry by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

What we know is that West Virginia MetroNews, citing multiple sources, reports the Big 12 contacted West Virginia yesterday and the two sides agreed to an informal verbal “invite and acceptance”, and that a press conference with the two sides was set for today (Wednesday) to announce that agreement. This had also been reported by Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports.

In the reports of Dominion Post reporter Drew Rubenstein and MetroNews, WVU felt the deal was indeed “done”.

But late last night, as has already been reported, WVU sent out a press release stating there would be no press conference for Wednesday. “Contrary to media reports, there is no press conference scheduled for Wednesday concerning WVU’s athletic conference affiliation.  There are no further comments at that time,” the statement said.

From MetroNews’ original story (before updates):

As of late yesterday afternoon, WVU had received a verbal invitation to the Big 12 and had accepted. Plans were in the works for a news conference Wednesday to make the announcement.

But sources say the process hit a “bump in the road” last night.  WVU was apparently notified by the Big 12 that it needed “more information” from WVU and that there would be a vote by the Big 12 Board, perhaps on Monday.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports that Louisville made a late, 11th hour surge to get back into the discussion as the 10th member of the Big 12.

Two people with direct knowledge of the situation said that lobbying by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, including to David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator, helped slow West Virginia’s admittance to the Big 12.

McConnell is a 1964 graduate of the University of Louisville.

Where the speculation begins is if there was political pressure employed by McConnell to Boren, and potentially, other members of the Big 12 to re-evaluate Louisville as a potential candidate to replace Missouri if they leave for the SEC as they are expected to do.

When that announcement will come is still unknown.

Additionally, West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller has released the following statement:

“The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (previously Gov.) has also called a 6 p.m. press conference to discuss conference realignment issues.

Political pressure, if indeed the driving force behind this latest round of conference shifting, is nothing new; frankly, it doesn’t matter if it’s from McConnell, Rockefeller, Manchin or all of the above. It is, however, a prime example of how far away college football has deviated from logic and rational thinking.

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53 Responses to “Updated: Louisville behind WVU-to-Big 12 snag?”
  1. fitz66 says: Oct 26, 2011 10:08 AM

    If these decisions are football-centric, is this really debatable?

  2. jgifford25 says: Oct 26, 2011 10:15 AM

    So if Louisville has thrown a snag in this, why not take both schools? Even if Missouri is leaving, there’s room in the conference for both schools. Unless there’s a third team play that is not even making a blip on media’s radar? And Missouri’s wavering, that third school could be part of snag with Louisville trying to get into the Big 12.

  3. florida727 says: Oct 26, 2011 10:16 AM

    I’m not a fan of either school, so I hope my comment here is unbiased. Even though football is the obvious cash-cow in the conference realignment game, Louisville’s men’s basketball program would be much more preferred than West Virginia’s. Pitino brings the ‘celebrity’ factor to the mix (not all of it in a positive sense obviously). So if the debate on which school to bring into the fold extends beyond pigskins, then yeah, Louisville would have to be the frontrunner I would think. Then again, why can’t BOTH Louisville AND West Virginia jump to the Big 12?

  4. John Taylor says: Oct 26, 2011 10:23 AM

    It’s really very, very simple why both WVU and Louisville don’t jump to the Big 12: some current members — most importantly Texas — do not want more than 10 schools in the conference.

  5. burntorangehorn says: Oct 26, 2011 10:28 AM

    I’ve heard that as well, JT. I suppose I can understand that fewer teams can mean a less diluted media revenue pool and possibly a stronger brand. I just think that UL and WVU would each be strong enough revenue generators that adding them would actually represent net revenue gains for all conference members.

  6. okiesteeler says: Oct 26, 2011 10:36 AM

    Why not just bring both and add BYU and get back to 12 teams and a championship game?

  7. fitz66 says: Oct 26, 2011 10:59 AM

    Maybe Mizzou decided to stay and they’re getting to 12?

    BCS Conferences dont extend invitations and then pull them back – that’d be lawsuit fest 2011.

  8. ut4big12 says: Oct 26, 2011 11:03 AM

    Wow! I was looking forward to WVU’s press conference where it would announce moving to the Big 12.

    There is no telling why the delay now. Missouri needs to be kicked out now! WVU and Louisville would be great additions to the Big 12 and I would love to see them both invited.

    Also, I have been reading that the Big 12 is trying to negotiate a deal with Notre Dame for its olympic sports to join the Big 12. Texas’s AD is a very good friend of Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame’s AD). The agreement would involve Notre Dame guaranteeing to play 6 football games every year against Big 12 schools.

  9. latrobe21 says: Oct 26, 2011 11:06 AM

    @ florida,

    I think Bob Huggins brings enough capability and “celebrity factor” to the point that WVU football/basketball would be preferred over Louisville basketball/football by the Big 12.

  10. latrobe21 says: Oct 26, 2011 11:09 AM

    @ ut4big12,

    That’s a great idea, but more appropriate for the Big 10. ND already plays at least 3 Big 10 teams each year (Mighigan, Michigan State and Purdue/PSU/other in recent years).

  11. harleyspoon says: Oct 26, 2011 11:16 AM

    The solution is to take Louisville, WVA and BYU if Missouri leaves…which seems imminent…That would make a 12 team league….Continue negotiations with Notre Dame to become a non-football member for the time being…as a first step to Notre Dame eventually becoming an all sports member of the Big 12.

    I actually think the Big 12 is using the potential Notre Dame BIG 12 membership card to keep Missouri in the league. That may, after all, be the real “snag”….If Missouri stays, the Big 12 (10) will stand for the time being…..If, however, Misouri does stay because of the Notre Dame situation, that means there is actually something to the possibility of a Notre Dame all sports membership in the Big 12…

  12. ut4big12 says: Oct 26, 2011 11:16 AM

    In my post, I meant to say Notre Dame would “agree” to play and not “guarantee” to play 6 football games against Big 12 schools every year in exchange for housing its Olympic sports in the Big 12.

  13. peterbit says: Oct 26, 2011 11:36 AM

    Expansion problem is that Texas does not want a Championship Game in Football, there by not 12 teams. But they also didn’t want to have another Texas team in the League but TCU was allowed to join.
    BYU was dropped for contention but no reason was given, some believe it has to do with the restrictions on playing on certain days due to religion beliefs.
    Louisville, WVU, Cincy, and South Florida all bring something to the table in expansion, and the system seems to be pointed toward 14 team Conferences and moving toward 16 team Super Conferences, if you can believe the talk on Sports Radio.

  14. sportsbastard says: Oct 26, 2011 11:57 AM

    Everything being reported locally in st. louis states that Mizzou is NOT wavering on leaving the XII. The delays with the SEC/Mizzou announcing the move are legal (exit fee negotiation), and logistical (which side of the SEC they will play within, and which season they will begin play in the conference).

    A 6-year deal with the XII and ND is NOT enough to keep MU when they are on the verge of striking a permanent deal with Bama, LSU, Auburn, UF and the entire SEC.

  15. pdmjr says: Oct 26, 2011 11:59 AM

    WVU is vastly superior to Luisville in evry way

    Go Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrs

  16. nuclearwarfare says: Oct 26, 2011 12:10 PM

    Regardless of who the Big 12 adds, if you’re going to stay at 10 teams, at least change the name of the conference to reflect the number of schools.

    Surely, with all the money and brainpower in the Big 12, they can come up with a name for the conference that doesn’t confuse itself with the Big 10.

    I don’t care if they kick every team out of the Big 12 and only add every powerhouse team in the nation, like LSU, Alabama, and so on. Your conference looks stupid if you call yourself the Big 12 and you only have, say, 10 teams.

    Being able to count must not be important down South, yeeehaaaaw.

  17. harleyspoon says: Oct 26, 2011 12:11 PM

    There will be 12 teams sooner or later…and 14 teams sooner than later, as well. And there will be a play-off sooner than later….It is a money game for all schools…Deloss Dodds wants Notre Dame in the Bg 12 anyway it can happen (and so does Jerry Jones…who also wants Arkansas in the Big 12 as do the Walton’s, Tyson’s & Hudson’s [who are my kin-folks]))…and it will start with non-fooball status…and eventually be a full all sports membership…

  18. ut4big12 says: Oct 26, 2011 12:29 PM


    I agree with you. The conference name is silly when there are only 10 members, but from what I have read, the name “Big 12” is a brand name just like the name “Big Ten.”

    I don’t really think it is the Big 12’s intention to stay at 10 members in the long run. In the future, it will eventually move back to 12 teams if not more.

    Having 10 teams in the conference at this time allows all teams to play each other in a round-robin format. This set up will allow all schools to get to know each other fairly well.

    In the past it was the North Division vs the South Division. That setup was a problem because most of the powerhouse schools in the conference were located in the South Division. Nebraska was kind of “kicked to the curb.” I don’t think the Big 12 wants to make that mistake again.

  19. auburntigers34 says: Oct 26, 2011 12:47 PM


    even though i agree with you about the name change for the Big 12, shouldn’t the same apply to the Big 10? it seems to me that this “academic” conference has issues with counting too.

  20. auburntigers34 says: Oct 26, 2011 12:49 PM

    pdmjr says: Oct 26, 2011 11:59 AM

    WVU is vastly superior to Luisville in evry way

    Go Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrs

    if that superiority includes spelling, God help us all.

  21. thefiesty1 says: Oct 26, 2011 1:06 PM

    Crap! Just go to 12 NOW with Louisville anad West Virginia. The hell with Neinas wanting to stay at 10. With or without Missouri somebody has to override both Neinas and DeLOSS.

    Apparently, DeLOSS is STILL in charge of the Big 12. They’ll never learn. They keep screwing around and the Big 12 will be worse off than the Big East (dead).

  22. rexismybff says: Oct 26, 2011 2:15 PM

    Boise State would be a much better pick than Louisville or WV.

  23. florida727 says: Oct 26, 2011 2:48 PM

    John Taylor says:
    Oct 26, 2011 10:23 AM
    It’s really very, very simple why both WVU and Louisville don’t jump to the Big 12: some current members — most importantly Texas — do not want more than 10 schools in the conference.


    Thanks, JT. That certainly explains the Big “12” moniker :)

  24. burntorangehorn says: Oct 26, 2011 3:22 PM

    If I recall correctly, the Big 12 retained the trademark rights to “Big 8” when they went to twelve teams and changed their name. I believe they simultaneously trademarked “Big 14” and “Big 16” during that expansion.

  25. nuclearwarfare says: Oct 26, 2011 4:04 PM

    I understand the argument that the Big 12 views the name “Big 12” as a brand. But one can also argue that this “brand” isn’t much of one, considering that more than 1/4 of the conference tried to jump to the Pac 12 a month ago.

    Even mighty Texas thought so little of the Big 12 that it considered jumping.

    I think the perception of the Big 12 being a “brand” exists strictly inside the Big 12.

  26. fitz66 says: Oct 26, 2011 4:46 PM

    Typical politician. Preaches less government and then uses it to help his team…

  27. mhalt99 says: Oct 26, 2011 4:49 PM

    Don’t forget….Texas is Oil Money and West Virginia, while a poor state overall is Coal Money. You may start to see some calls being made within energy companies in WV to their big brothers over in TX. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Politically WV & KY are both smaller states that are not really swing states in the upcoming election. It would be interesting if Florida was involved to see how willing leaders would be to upset any type of balance in that states election.

  28. deadeye says: Oct 26, 2011 5:02 PM

    If it was political interference then three things need to happen:

    1) The BIG12 needs to tell Mitch McConnell to shove something large and sharp up his tailpipe.

    2) The voters of Kentucky need to vote that horse’s ass out of office.

    3) The BIG12 and WVU need to move forward with their plan.

    Honestly, the country is on the brink of a depression, and this fool McConnell is not only failing to address that problem, he’s interfering in something that he has no jurisdiction over.

    Go to hell McConnell! BIG12, WVU, proceed with your business.

  29. savoirlaire says: Oct 26, 2011 5:17 PM


    You’re a moron…gee, you think if Robert Byrd were still alive, he wouldn’t be pulling every string to get this done for WVU, just like Rockefeller and Manchin are doing? And “the voters of Kentucky need to vote that horse’s ass out of office”? Yeah, good advice…vote out the Senate leader who delivers all the goods for his state. Wow, a liberal WVU fan…no wonder the state has such a stellar reputation.

  30. centexhorn says: Oct 26, 2011 5:20 PM

    This is hilarious.

    Just take them both.

  31. frug says: Oct 26, 2011 5:25 PM

    I’m glad the politicians are getting involved. After all, they specialize solving complex issues quickly and it’s not like they have anything else to do…

  32. thefiesty1 says: Oct 26, 2011 5:39 PM

    Well now. Interference from politicians is just what is needed to REALLY screw this realignment mess up. They’ll set up a committee and drag this out for about 20 years or until they die in office.

  33. anc713 says: Oct 26, 2011 5:49 PM

    With jobs being lost everyday, schools having to cut teachers, a war in Afghanistan, etc., and this is what our politicians are worried about? No wonder our country is in the shape its in, we have the blind, clueless and ignorant leading it. I guess when we’re all jobless and living in the streets we can at least bicker about our football teams.

  34. deadeye says: Oct 26, 2011 5:57 PM

    You’re a moron…gee, you think if Robert Byrd were still alive, he wouldn’t be pulling every string to get this done for WVU, just like Rockefeller and Manchin are doing? And “the voters of Kentucky need to vote that horse’s ass out of office”? Yeah, good advice…vote out the Senate leader who delivers all the goods for his state. Wow, a liberal WVU fan…no wonder the state has such a stellar reputation.”


    First, you assume that since I’m upset at this story, I must be a WVU fan. I’m not a WVU fan. Second, you assume that if Byrd were still in the Senate that I would have no problem with the inevitable interference he would perpetrate. In fact I would be equally angry at him for the same reason. And third, you assume that I’m a liberal, which I most definitely am not. That’s three incorrect assumptions in one post.

    By stating that it would be a mistake for Kentuckians to “vote out the Senate leader who delivers all the goods for his state”, you obviously have no problem with special interests dictating policy for the nation. I completely disagree with that position and hate pork-barrell politics. I consider those who endorse that brand of politics to be moronic.

    My original post has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. My anger is directed to any and all politicians who interfere in areas where they have no authority. The country has much bigger issues than university conference affiliation, and those issues are being completely ignored.

  35. texasshriner says: Oct 26, 2011 6:31 PM

    I think we take Mc Connell to the Bridge in WVA where they base jump and throw his ass off there.

  36. burntorangehorn says: Oct 26, 2011 6:37 PM

    I have very little reason to want to defend Mitch McConnell in any way, but politicians can walk and chew gum at the same time. Whether or not his and Rockefeller’s interference in this issue is appropriate, it is not preventing them from conducting their other duties as they otherwise would.

  37. mountaineergirl says: Oct 26, 2011 7:06 PM

    Why do the politicans have to be involved at all? Why shouldn’t this decision be based on merit alone? If the Big 12 made their decision (and it was clear they had by all accounts) then so be it! They wanted WVU. They didn’t want Louisville. Not if that was the only school they’d be adding. And frankly I can’t blame them. Over the last 4 years Louisville’s football team has complied a record of a stunning 21-27 with only one bowl apperance and zero BCS appearances. In contrast WVU’s football team has compiled a record of 36-12 with 4 straight bowl appearances and 1 BCS appearance and win.

    Say what you will about basketball, but this is not about basketball. This is about football and it will always be about football. Rick Pitino’s no “star” factor from where I sit. His teams are no better than the teams fielded by Bob Huggins’ WVU squads. Both have made regular NCAA Tourney apperances and I seem to recall an Elite 8 visit by WVU where they beat Duke of all people. So… no. Louisville’s basketball is no more attractive than WVU’s. All in all, top to bottom, there’s absoultely nothing wrong with WVU’s athletics program. They are solid in about everything and excell in some lesser known sports.

    It would be nice if Louisville would have released a statement telling Mitch McConnell to keep his mouth shut and to stop making himself and the University look bad by whining and crying for a handout from the Big 12. And the Big 12 would do well to man up and stop being bullied into giving in to the demands of someone stomping his foot because his school didn’t get asked to dance first. How immature…

  38. Romulus says: Oct 26, 2011 7:12 PM

    its just republicans. they no better and cannot helps selves by meddling.

  39. texasshriner says: Oct 26, 2011 7:13 PM

    McConnell has screwed up the nation now he want’s to do the same for college football.

  40. auburntigers34 says: Oct 26, 2011 7:51 PM

    Romulus says: Oct 26, 2011 7:12 PM

    its just republicans. they no better and cannot helps selves by meddling.

    say what?

  41. texasshriner says: Oct 26, 2011 8:00 PM

    McConnell is Majority leader but he IS an IDIOT

  42. rumpole43 says: Oct 26, 2011 9:33 PM

    @texasshriner: He’s also an IDIOT!!

  43. cranespy says: Oct 26, 2011 11:14 PM

    Wherever there is a camera and a shot at free publicity you will find Joe Manchin! Think back to the magical Fiesta Bowl Victory over OU….there he and his wife were on the sideline during the waning minutes….and not just on the sideline mind you….right there next to the action taking a spot next to ol Stew! Wonder if he would’ve been there if the game had turned out differently! This guy has an insatiable appetite for the spotlight. If there is a network tv camera anywhere in the state….count on it ole Joe will be there. The sad thing is he took the post left vacant by the death of long time WV Senator Robert Byrd who eshewed the spotlight. There is only one good thing about Joey winning the senate race…at last he wised up!

  44. flickerscreen says: Oct 27, 2011 12:13 AM

    If Byrd were still alive, he would have moved the Big 12 to West Virginia! Go eers!

  45. norcalirish says: Oct 27, 2011 8:24 AM

    Deadeye— forgive the pun, but you’re dead on. “Conference realignment” is an embarrassment.

  46. blackshirtz says: Oct 27, 2011 11:32 AM

    Look up Big 12 in the dictionary = JOKE.


  47. paytheplayers says: Oct 27, 2011 11:44 AM

    This is the lowest of the low points…college sports being shaped by GOVERNMENT pressure. Why should senators and governors be lobbying conferences? And getting reactions? Make no mistake about it…this is about the wrong people getting very, very rich. This isn’t free market forces in action…those who cannot produce a product or service are profiteering on the backs of those who work (for comparatively FREE). This is shameful. I have never before advocated paying college athletes. Now it’s obvious they must be paid to insert some semblance of ethical behavior into the equation. Oh, and I am ALL FOR someone getting rich…I love that idea. It’s just that there is no hidden agenda with these colleges and better said, “adults shaping the futures of our children.” They are slobbering pimps selling out for the highest bidder. WHO GETS THE $$$$ GENERATED BY ALL THIS MONEYGRABBING? Not the underpaid players nor the “children who are our future.” Don’t give me the BS about revenue generating sports making non-revenue generating sports possible. What new sports will WVU and Louisville provide women athletes scholarships and intercollegiate competition after they make this deal? Congrats you money grubbing pimps…realign your conferences all day long. Maybe you’ll realign your way right into government regulation once you fail to curry favor with the wrong senator. Oh, and for the senators and governors who seem to be interested in the process…how about you focus more on the inordinate amount of tutition and fee hikes over the past 10-15 years in the face of all this increasing revenue. Raise the taxes of the schools, not me to decrease the deficit. What, universities don’t pay taxes??? See…

    Whatever…Occupy Universities! They are the 1%. You student activists need to demonstrate on your own campuses. Destroy THEIR public parks.

  48. burntorangehorn says: Oct 27, 2011 12:22 PM

    @paytheplayers: the money from the moneygrabbing is going to the athletics department and universities as wholes. Have you missed the countless reports on how most schools’ athletic departments, even many in power conferences, are losing money?

  49. paytheplayers says: Oct 27, 2011 12:57 PM

    @burntorangehorn, yes, of course. I see the same reports. As a not-for-profit entity, I would expect only to see “break-even” or better, losses. I remain skeptical, sorry. Overspending seems to lead to requests for more donations/gifts, increased tuition, increased annual budgets, more revenue generating activities–that are then justified by pointing to all the financial hardships.

  50. harleyspoon says: Oct 27, 2011 1:04 PM

    The overall quality of the Louisville or WVU athletic programs is secondary to what is the best move to expand the footprint of the BIG12 with regard to sets of eyeballs & TV money…..It is not even as much about “butts in the bleachers” as it is eyes on TV games….That’s why the old Southwest Conference Schools aren’t clamoring for SMU and U of Houston to be invited to the BIG12. All Texas football fans watch all Texas teams on TV anyway.

    As for politicians being activated to lobby for their schools, why not? They have loyalties to their respective schools and to the economic interests of their states and have been drafted by powerful economic interests and avid sports fans (many of whom vote) to act on behalf of their schools…Politicians are football fans just like everyone else…

    Someone said take ’em both. Ok…If Missouri leaves and they “take ’em both”, that makes it the BIG 12 (11)–10 minus 1 equals 9…9 plus 2 equals 11….and scheduling really gets screwy…

    So, I say yeah, take’em both and grab BYU while the grabbing is good. That way you have a true BIG 12 and very big footprint..west, south, midwest and east…Louisville is the 10th team, WVU is the 11th team…BYU is the 12th team….Then the BIG 12 entices Notre Dame to move its non football programs to BIG12 (that enhances the image of the BIG12 and the revenues)..Work toward the day Notre Dame sees the benefit of its football team also being a football member of the BIG12…The BIG 12 gets Notre Dame football (that’s 13) and Jerry Jones, the Walton’s, the Tyson’s and the Hudson’s make it worthwhile for Arkansas to follow Notre Dame to the Big 12 (14). Then you have the BIG12 (14) and the big money flows to the next real “Super Conference”……

  51. burntorangehorn says: Oct 27, 2011 2:53 PM

    @paytheplayers: okay, so to be clear, you think schools should spend a lot less, correct? Just checking, because I would hope that you’d understand that parity in college football would go to an all-time low if every athletic department were required to restrict its athletic department’s expenditures to an amount equal to or smaller than its revenues. Is that the case? Think about the ramifications of that for a minute. You’d have Texas, Georgia, Florida, Ohio State, and a very small handful of others capable of competing, while Auburn, Florida State, etc. would essentially become mid-majors.

  52. wtank92 says: Oct 27, 2011 4:20 PM

    Most of us think the Big 12 should re-expand to 12 teams. But I think, and bigorangehorn can elaborate if he feels, that Texas does not want 12 teams, since that would cause the need for two divisions and a B12 championship game. The current arrangement is round-robin play without the championship game – and that is an easier schedule to get to the BCS (one less BIG game), which is what Texas wants. Texas drives the B12 decision-making.

  53. wtank92 says: Oct 27, 2011 5:35 PM

    Burntorangehorn, not bigorangehorn. Sorry BOH.

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