WVU lucky to cash in on Big 12 check when it did
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 07:01
It was just less than a year ago that West Virginia settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and finally reached an agreement to exit the Big East Conference and join the Big 12 Conference in nearly all sports effective last July.
This move would have an enormous fiscal effect. In fact, once the Mountaineers begin earning a full revenue share in the conference in 2016, they’ll almost certainly be earning more than $20 million a year just for being a resident member of the Big 12.
That’s nearly three times the average compensation from revenue sharing in West Virginia’s former conference, the Big East, which means that after just a few years, the Mountaineers will undoubtedly make millions and millions more than they would have had they remained in the slowly sinking Big East – which is, in fact, now closer to a three-ring circus than a Power Six collegiate athletic conference.
And that doesn’t even factor in new marketing and media rights deals. For example, WVU just signed a new third-tier media rights deal with IMG that will reportedly bring in another $9 million a year to the university.
Basically, the point I’m making is that West Virginia was extremely fortuitous to make the conference transition, for fiscal reasons alone, if nothing else.
Because, ironically, if the majority of the infamous, widespread conference realignments had occurred just a year later, I’m not sure the Mountaineers would be in the same situation they are now.
In fact, I firmly believe that if Big 12 officials had another shot, they might go back and consider adding a different university altogether, because ultimately, the Mountaineers’ Big 12 debut has been thoroughly underwhelming overall.
And in the two biggest and most popular collegiate sports, football and men’s basketball, West Virginia has simply been downright atrocious.
The WVU football team limped to a 7-6 final record capped off by dismal Pinstripe Bowl performance in January, and the men’s basketball team, currently sitting at 9-11 (2-5 Big 12), has been even more disappointing.
Now let’s conversely examine a Big East team that was originally rumored to get a Big 12 invite during last year’s rampant realignments but was basically overlooked as the conference ultimately selected TCU and the Mountaineers as its newest members instead.
I’m talking about the Louisville Cardinals.
Because in hindsight, they really do seem like a much better fit for the conference than West Virginia, in more ways than one.
Granted, it would have been difficult to predict that the Cardinals would have fared so much better this year than the Mountaineers in both of the aforementioned sports in 2012-2013, but in the end, the results really aren’t even comparable.
While West Virginia won just six of its 16 otal football and men’s basketball conference games since joining the Big 12, Louisville won the 2012 Sugar Bowl (its second BCS victory in six years) and even briefly held the top ranking in all of college basketball this year.
The Cardinals have since stumbled a bit on the hardwood since briefly becoming the No. 1 team in the entire country, but their current 17-4 record will still earn them a great seed in this year’s NCAA tournament in March.
West Virginia, meanwhile, won’t be playing in this year’s edition of March Madness at all.
And to be completely honest, I don’t think its much of a stretch at this point to predict that the Mountaineers won’t even make the NIT.
This doesn’t mean that West Virginia can’t turn things around in the years to come, but so far, the school just hasn’t proven the Big 12’s choice to add them as one of its two newest conference members in my opinion.