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Conference realignment could have resulted in merger of Big 12, Big East schools

Jun 11, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

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Just three years ago collegiate athletics looked to be headed towards significant changes due to the specter of conference realignment. With talk of conferences moving to 16 members running rampant, more than a few schools found themselves searching for answers. Among those schools were many programs that called the Big 12 and Big East home, with the possibility of a Pac-16 robbing the former of some of its most powerful programs (Texas and Oklahoma among the options) and the latter reeling from the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC.

That led to the consideration of a possible solution, one that was sparked by the desperation to avoid falling off of the map of major collegiate athletics. In a story written by Brett McMurphy of, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck discussed his early conversations with Big 12 athletic directors about the possibility of the remaining Big 12 and Big East members coming to together to form a conference.

Luck even referred to the possibility as his “favorite story that hasn’t been written.”

“I didn’t know those guys from Adam,” Luck said. “I knew the schools. I told them, ‘Your conference may fall apart. You guys look like you might get left behind. Why don’t we take all of you and TCU, which was kind of homeless.”

Luck’s plan, which also had the support of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, was also to add UCF for a 12-team Big East divided into two divisions: West: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU and Louisville; East: UConn, Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia, South Florida and UCF.

Obviously this didn’t happen due in large part to the then Pac-10 adding two schools (Colorado and Utah), thus meaning that programs such as Texas and Oklahoma remained in the Big 12. One thing to consider is whether or not those conversations with Big 12 leaders set the stage for West Virginia to join the conference.

There may not have been much familiarity at the time, but tossing the ideas of a Big 12/Big East merger likely helped strengthen the relationships between the parties involved. Now the Big 12 is comfortable with ten members, which allows for a full round-robin in basketball and a nine-game conference slate in football. From a basketball standpoint that merger idea would have been good if deemed necessary, but the Big 12 is better off with its current group.

  1. musketmaniac - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Most of us in Morgantown are waiting for day that Luck`s career takes him elsewhere. good bye good luck, but more important Oliver do you need help with your luggage.

    • a1aparrot - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      I remember you hoopies were laughing at us (Pitt) for going to the ACC. So now the tune has changed? Not surprising. How are those road trip to your closest rival Iowa St? You clowns lost the conference realignment musical chairs games so you might as well accept the misery of being in the Big 12 minus 2.

  2. a1aparrot - Jun 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    This MAY have worked if the eight Big East football schools had merged with the Big 12 after the exit of Texas A7M and Missouri. At least there would have been the possibility of an east/west division alignment. Now poor poor West Virginia is left alone in the east while their 9 “buddies” are all in the mid west and south west. Poor poor hoopies. Good riddance.

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