We bring this up today for a couple of reasons, including the seeming unrest in some quarters over how things have transpired. Some look at the deficits and the lack of success on the field, the still-spiraling salaries being paid out and the increases in ticket costs and mandatory donations and see nothing but a huge mess. And it is.
But consider the alternatives. And that's the real point here today, because so many things that have happened since West Virginia pulled the expensive trigger on its move to the Big 12 might well have eliminated the school from being in a position to do so. And had that happened, WVU would be adrift in an athletic no-man's land.
It has always been well known that one of the most attractive aspects of West Virginia to the Big 12 Conference hierarchy was its immediate availability. The league needed a school and WVU said it could be there yesterday. Certainly its recent history in football and basketball helped its cause, but that availability was necessary. Had West Virginia told the Big 12 it could come, but not for another year, all bets would have been off.
West Virginia was in the right place at the right time to crawl through that escape hatch, and the eventual financial rewards will more than make up for any current deficits, even if those deficits seem astronomical now. It's not even worth arguing the point. It's short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.
And while the competitive aspect of the move isn't as easy to quantify or predict, if you're a WVU fan you don't really want to argue that the school bit off more than it can chew, do you? You've spent all these years arguing that WVU was just as good as anyone else, so embrace the fact that now the Mountaineers have the chance to prove it.
The alternative is not something you really want to consider, is it? But let me force you to do so for just a moment.
Let's say the Big 12 - or anyone else - was looking for a school today. Let's say WVU and Louisville were still on the table. Let's say that now neither had an advantage in when it might be available.
It might seem short-sighted to consider this, but the here-and-now often sways these decisions big time. Who would the Big 12 want if it could only take one? In October of 2011, it was West Virginia. Today it might well be Louisville.
Now it's the Cardinals coming off a resounding BCS bowl win, a trip to the Final Four in men's basketball and even Sunday's win over top-ranked Baylor in the women's tournament. And there's no argument at all that Louisville is a better geographic fit for the Big 12.
Meanwhile, the ACC and the Big Ten have made it clear time and again that West Virginia wasn't high on their wish lists. The SEC isn't calling. And the Big East continues to crumble.
So had it not been for West Virginia's abrupt and costly-for-now jump to the Big 12, who is to say the school would not be looking at a football schedule in future seasons highlighted - highlighted, mind you - by games with SMU, Temple and Central Florida? The basketball team would not only have a slate that no longer includes Syracuse and Pitt - soon off to the ACC - but sans Georgetown and Marquette and the New York area schools and the Big East tournament.
In other words, it would have been everyone's worst nightmare from a few years ago when schools were fleeing the Big East left and right and WVU was wondering if it was about to become irrelevant. Except now it would be reality.
Say what you will about West Virginia's struggles on the field and the court and in its wallet and everything else. But know that things could be much, much worse right now. And unlike the current situation, there would be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1.