Chip Shots – Shifting Gears

Shifting gears

by Jim Buzzerd

Last week USC and UCLA announced they were leaving the PAC 12 to join the Big 10. About a year ago Oklahoma and Texas announced they were leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. In each case these announcements came as a complete surprise to the world of college athletics, shocking the football ålandscape, and college athletics in general.

There were no smoke signals that these four schools were negotiating with other conferences. Basically, you woke up one day hearing it was a done deal and it turned out to be true. I have no idea how many folks behind closed doors knew of these negotiations, but it had to be a sizable number. It’s remarkable in this day of social media and message boards that nothing leaked.

My focus is West Virginia University athletics and how all this reshuffling will affect the programs at WVU. A year ago, the departure of Texas and Oklahoma (it looks like they may be kept from leaving until 2025) I was all consumed about how the fallout would affect WVU. At that point a Big 12 without Texas and Oklahoma seemed to be a conference in jeopardy. I will continue to follow this changing landscape, but I will not be consumed by it.

With the latest move by the Big 10 most conferences except the SEC and Big 12 are facing issues. Those two leagues were already ahead of the pack, but this latest salvo has increased the gap. Geographically, the Big 10 extends from New Jersey to Southern California. That seemed unthinkable not so may years ago. As an aside, it is unthinkable that Rutgers, of all college athletic programs, is sitting pretty with Big 10 membership while other schools with great fan bases are facing the possibility of being left behind.

As of Monday, there was nothing concrete about what happens next. There are reports the Big 10 isn’t done yet. Oregon and Washington may be under consideration. Oregon’s ties to Nike would seem to play in their favor as far as finding a comfortable home. There are reports that the Big 12 plans to discuss some type of merger with the PAC 12.

Closer to home, there is little info coming about West Virginia’s game plan. There are several folks I follow on the internet that I’ve found reliable on WVU athletic matters, and none have had a word to say since last Friday. That’s quite possibly because they know nothing. The party line will be to stay in the Big 12 and make it work, but like a dozen or so schools across the land right now, a WVU fan would hope there is an unlikely path to the SEC or Big 10.