MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

As it pertains to conference hopping in college athletics, this much we know — absolutely nothing.

Secret deals could be in the works even as we speak. Clandestine meetings could be taking place in a smoky back room of Rick’s (everybody goes to Rick’s). Who knows what the hell is happening?

Probably nothing is happening, not until Notre Dame puts down its sports section and gets off its throne. So, until then, the only things we continue to know are nothing and to not be surprised by anything when it does happen. Because it’s happening. It’s going down, Jerry. We just don’t know what. Or when.

To recap: Oklahoma and Texas, founding members of the Big 12 Conference, decided to re-found themselves in the Southeastern Conference. In Big 12 circles, we call Oklahoma and Texas “The Meal Ticket.” So how are our friends just up I-68, the West Virginia University Mountaineers, going to eat?

Provided things stay the same by then, beginning in 2023, Brigham Young, Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida will join the Big 12, putting the number of Big 12 member institutions (schools) at 12, making the Big 12 about the only conference in the world to have the number of schools that it claims to have. That’s provided things stay the same …

They won’t.

So what becomes of the Mountaineers? Do they stay and try to make a go of things along with the remaining Big 12 schools and hope the conference can rustle up some new and impressive membership, say like soon to be Pac-12 movers Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon (don’t hold your breath there with Nike and Phil Knight demanding Big Ten bucks for Ducks).

The feeling here is the Mountaineers will be in a big-time hurry to relocate themselves, because they didn’t want to go in the first place. But where would they go? No offense, but it’s not like this is a seller’s market when A.) Notre Dame holds the cards for nearly everybody and B.) WVU is cashing the Big 12 paychecks as we speak.

Clearly, after the Big East was eaten up by football greed, the most desired landing spot for WVU has been the Atlantic Coast Conference, itself a conference on the brink.

There are currently 15 member schools in the ACC, including Notre Dame when it’s convenient for them, and, as fate would have it, Notre Dame might not be the only school that could soon leave, as Clemson, Florida State and Miami could be targets for further SEC or Big Ten expansion.

The ACC would seem to be the perfect fit for West Virginia, geographically speaking. And it would be a perfect fit in that the Mountaineers could resume many of their old Big East rivalries with the handful of former Big East schools that now call the ACC their conference – Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, Miami …

WVU has sought membership to the ACC before and was denied because the hypocrites who ran the ACC then (North Carolina alum/Commissioner John Swofford, North Carolina and Duke) said the school’s academic admissions standards were not high enough to meet the ACC’s so-called standards.

Funny, I don’t seem to ever recall WVU conducting classes that did not exist for the benefit of padding their scholarship athletes’ GPAs the way North Carolina did for well over a decade, but what do I know about academics? I went to Maryland.

WVU would love to move, and move quickly, when all of this shakes out, and the ACC is the perfect fit. In fact, it’s an even better fit for WVU than the Big 12 is on a good day,

Also consider, the ACC, which sold its soul (basketball) for football with the conference’s last expansion, with the exception of Clemson, ain’t much of a football conference these days. Half of the conference’s football members average fewer than 40,000 fans per home game. West Virginia tops 57,000.

And guess what? WVU fans also love to go to away games. In big numbers – much bigger numbers if their conference is located on the East Coast instead of halfway across the country.

The ACC can use another fanbase that cares about football (and everything). The ACC needs to get over its precious self and welcome West Virginia University to the conference as soon as it can.

It won’t, of course, because Morgantown is not really a media market, but then again, until Notre Dame decides what to do, if anything, WVU will have to be content just where it is.

Once the money calls, though, Notre Dame will answer, and then all hell is going to break loose in college athletics. If the Big 12 can get Arizona and Arizona State, that would be something, regardless of what Notre Dame does or not, and could give WVU some more stability and peace of mind.

The ACC is in trouble, the Big 12 is in trouble, the Pac-12 is on life support and the NCAA feels like Nixon all alone talking to the portraits in The White House during the final days.

Greed will do that.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT