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Conference reshuffling back on the radar

THE ACTION at the Greenbrier Classic has captured the Mountain State's heart for this week.

For the next couple of months, however, sports fans in the state should keep their eyes on news from deep in the heart of Texas.

College football insiders have confirmed there is "a lot of backchannel discussions" between Texas A&M and the Southeastern Conference.

You guessed it. The topic of realignment has again raised its head.

A&M, now in the Big 12, is apparently discussing a move to the SEC in light of the Texas Longhorn network deal with ESPN. Oklahoma, also of the Big 12, may be in lockstep with A&M.

Why is that important here?

Because one or both of those moves could set a lot more in motion.

If the SEC takes A&M, the league probably doesn't stop there. Common sense would dictate football's most powerful league would also add another to get to 14 schools.

There are many scenarios. Oklahoma could move instead to the Big Ten, a la former Big 12 league mate Nebraska. It could move to the Pac-12, a la former league mate Colorado.

Whatever the case there, if the SEC expands to 14 teams, other power conferences, like the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast, might follow suit in an effort to try and keep up.

If that happens, the Big East could again be in trouble. The good news for WVU: One insider predicted the Mountaineers would end up in the ACC if leagues do indeed attempt to keep up with the SEC.

I know. Yes, it's a lot of conjecture. It's nothing for Mountaineer fans to celebrate. But discussions are ongoing, so it's something to watch. Also, it's something that should be of concern to Big East followers.

If you follow a school that isn't picked up by a power conference in a full-blown expansion cycle, your team could be in trouble.

Why? Because upcoming Big East television negotiations could be severely damaged if the conference is again raided.

Remember, league officials decided to roll the dice and not strike a deal with ESPN. The decision was to wait.

That decision could prove lethal if Big East schools jump.

The word is, nothing seems immediately imminent. But within college football, all eyes are on the heart of Texas. Specifically College Station.

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  • WVU deputy athletic director Mike Parsons on Thursday said he's heard nothing from ESPN concerning a potential "GameDay" set appearance in Morgantown for the LSU game.

    "I've not heard that," Parsons said. "I think I'd have heard that by now."

    That may not be the case. The network could make a call as early as two weeks out. One, however, would think Parsons would at least have received a feeler call.

    On a separate topic, Parsons said he expects more football game times to be settled and released "fairly soon."

    If you've checked the most updated version of WVU's schedule, you know only three game times have been set as of Thursday afternoon: the 3:30 p.m. Marshall game on Sept. 4; the 8 p.m. game at Syracuse on Oct. 21; and the 8 p.m. game at South Florida on Dec. 1.

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  • And finally . . .

    I received a call from a reader the other day concerning Marshall's 2010 season opening loss to Ohio State.

    The Buckeye offense moved the ball at will in that game and the hosts posted a 45-7 victory. Until, that is, earlier this month. It was then OSU vacated last season's victories and self-imposed a two-year probation in light of NCAA violations.

    The question from George and the gang at McDonald's: Does MU technically get the victory?

    "No," said Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick. "When wins are vacated, they aren't awarded to the opponents. That's what we've been told and we've not received anything.

    "This is the first time I've dealt with this, but, no, you don't get the win. It's just vacated."

    There you have it.

    Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle. 


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