Conference Realignment Update Oct 27, 2011: Big 12 Circus Act continues as West Virginia (Big 12 invite now on hold) and Louisville battle for last spot…or do they?

7:17 pm: What the hell is going on with the Big 12?

24 hours after reportedly voting in, accepting, and informing West Virginia it was the Big 12’s newest member, and Missouri’s replacement, the Mountaineers status with the Big 12 is now in-limbo.

What a circus act.

CBS’ Brett McMurphy says West Virginia and the Big 12 had a press release read and West Virginia acknowledges it had a offer, and now it is off the table. Why?

Because some, most notably Oklahoma President David Boren, want Louisville instead.

Here is the main issue: The majority of the Big 12 universities prefer Louisville, but the TV networks prefer West Virginia. The battle is on.

Pete Thamel, of The New York Times, wrote yesterday that the whole thing is in a holding pattern and that it’s a 50-50 deal between WVU and Louisville.

LINK: Big 12 may add Louisville, not West Virginia

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville believes that Louisville is a better option, says West Virginia is not the Big 12’s first choice.

But what does he know, he also prefers Tulane and San Diego State, calling them interesting “destination cities.”

“A lot of people would think I’m crazy, but I would go after San Diego State and I’d go after Tulane,” Tuberville said in an ESPN radio interview. “They both have great stadiums. Both would grow immensely if they went to a conference like this. I know right now, one, San Diego State is doing pretty good. Tulane is not, but they’ve got the Superdome, they’ve got New Orleans for people to go in and out. I think you look at things like that and TV markets.”

He then contradicts himself by saying he doesn’t want West Virginia because of “travel issues.” How the hell far away do you think San Diego is, Tommy?

“The travel for basketball, baseball, everybody involved is a little different. I thought it would be Louisville. I thought they would be a better fit for the situation for the Big 12. West Virginia’s going to be great. It’s just the distance and travel is going to be different for everybody and just being able to get there and for fans to get in and out. But it’s a great school a lot of tradition …”

Asked if he preferred 10 or 12 schools in conference, he said: “I’d rather have 12. I’d rather have a conference championship game and it’s funny coming from a coach who used to not like that. It’s a situation where we could get shut out even though a team might go undefeated that year without playing a championship game. You don’t need that chance.”

Reports surfaced yesterday that West Virginia senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin weighed in on realignment and are calling for senate investigations if any type of tampering is responsible for the hold up. Wow. This is getting crazier by the second.

From Rockefeller: “The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”

From Manchin:
“If these outrageous reports have any merit – and especially if a United States Senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made – then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get the truth. West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports.”

While we are on the topic of politicians, Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell may have been involved in blocking WVU’s move to the Big 12 so that his alma mater, Louisville, would still have a shot to make its way to the Midwest. And he is friends with Oklahoma President, and former Senator, David Boren.

Here is more about McConnell’s involvement:

Here’s another piece: Will McConnell’s stiff-arm keep West Virginia out of the Big 12?.

McConnell also lobbied U.S. Senator, Jerry Moran, from Kansas, to tell KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to talk to be behind Louisville.

Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino weighs in.

I’ll raise the question, why doesn’t the Big 12 just add both schools?

It has been widely reported that the Big 12 would stay at 10 if Missouri stayed, but 12 if they left. Now it seems the Big 12, most notably Texas, thinks 10 is the perfect number.

Although one Big 12 administrator says its “quite possible” that one team is added now, and two more later. Another says its possible the conference goes to 11 as a temporary fix.

West Virginia, Louisville, or any other Big East team that leaves has a 27-month waiting period before they can leave. Is it possible that the Big 12 could use Missouri and/or Texas A&M’s exit fees to give to the Big East to get either West Virginia or Louisville in the conference by 2012? Seems reasonable.

An update on the Big East-Conference USA-Mountain West and a few others 32-team mega conference, Big East cancelled their appearance at the meeting, so it may be back to the original 22-team, Conference USA-Mountain West merger.

Now a quick update on Missouri and the SEC. Missouri, as already reported, was expected to withdraw from the Big 12 on Monday when Chancellor Brady Deaton traveled to Dallas for the Big 12 Board of Directors. Instead nothing happened and Deaton basically said Missouri needs more time.

If the announcement doesn’t come today (which is unlikely), it could come Monday. Friday, Alden goes to Indianapolis for for two days for NCAA meetings and Pinkel will travel to College Station for Mizzou’s game at fellow Big 12 defector Texas A&M. The media will also be there to cover the game on Saturday. The basketball team plays in Joplin Sunday. No announcement will be made without Alden and Pinkel, and certainly, the media will be invited. Monday could be a potential day as Alden, the media, Pinkel and Deaton are all available, and the next day Deaton leaves for a 9-day trip to India.

Also, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Vahe Gregorian interviewed Texas A&M’s President R. Bowen Loftin, who says he said to Deaton, “If you’re going to (go), let’s get our attorneys together and make sure … we have a common platform for discussions here with the Big 12.” Loftin adds: “because it would make no sense for us to independently try to negotiate a settlement (like Nebraska/Colorado).

Stay tuned…





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