West Virginia Mountaineers Belong in the Big 12

By Mike Atkinson
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With its first season in the Big 12 complete, the West Virginia Mountaineers have drawn criticism from a number of people who think the school would have been better off had it stayed in the Big East.

It’s time to address this. This is an absolutely ludicrous argument. College football is about so much more than wins and losses.

I’m tired of hearing people say losing six games in the Big 12 is much worse than winning ten in the Big East. Anyone who thinks WVU should be in the Big East needs to think about the following things:

1) First and foremost, is conference stability. The state of the Big East as a football conference is up in the air right now, and is nowhere near as “strong” as it was when WVU was in it in the last few years.

The Big East is college football’s version of the Titanic right now. It’s is on its way down, and could even fold very soon.

Compare this to the Big 12, a conference currently more stable than it has been in a very long time. Only one Big 12 team did not make a bowl game this season and many are calling it the second strongest conference in college football to the SEC.

I would much rather have a 7-6 season in a powerful conference than to go undefeated against weak competition.

2) Being in the Big 12 gives WVU a recruiting advantage it didn’t have in the Big East. First, the strength of the conference alone allows WVU to give recruits the opportunity to play BCS championship contenders. More importantly though, being in the Big 12 makes WVU the conference’s Eastern-most team.

This is important because it makes the Mountaineers the closest school to any recruits on the east coast who want to play in the Big 12, which we’ve already established is one of the top three conferences in football.

This allows WVU to grab east coast/northeast recruits who want to play “power” football without having to go to school in SEC country.

As a Big East school, all of the schools were close enough together that there was no clear geographical advantage to any specific school.

3) The Big 12 gives WVU a better image. It looks much better to be in a strong athletic conference than a weak one. The Big 12 is a fairly strong conference across all sports, whereas now, the Big East is weak in many sports.

4) Did I mention the Big 12 is much more stable than the Big East?

5) The Big 12 earns WVU much more money than the Big East does, especially now that the Big East has lost many of its competitive football and basketball teams. Rumors are the Big East is having trouble finding a TV deal for football, and now that its seven catholic basketball only members left, it won’t make much money from that either.

So if it isn’t making money through either of the two major revenue sports in college, it’s in bad shape.

It goes without saying the Big 12 has a strong TV deal with FOX for football including “Tier Three Rights”.

Big 12 Associate Commissioner Bob Burda explained what this means:

“Tier three rights consist of rights to television content or rights to sporting event content that has been passed over by our television partners. Tier one is over-the-air broadcast rights. Tier two is considered cable television rights and tier three is member retained rights.”

In addition to the publicity this brings the school, there is also a large amount of money tied up in this process as well.

Combine this with essentially the same deal for basketball and the Big 12 isn’t doin’ so bad financially.

6) Conference stability also plays a huge role in this, in case you missed that earlier.

While it may be hard to stomach the transition period WVU will have to go through in its new conference, I promise it made the right move.

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS or visit his Rant Sports Author Page.

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