There is, of course, one other reason we bring up history, and specifically the history and eventual demise of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
It was the Big East Conference of today.
Think about it. The SIAA was born of a vast number of universities looking for something to tie them together. The Big East basketball league was the same in its earliest years. Syracuse and Georgetown had nothing in common, nor did Villanova and Boston College or Providence and Pitt. Whereas the SIAA schools allied to create rules and an equal playing field, the Big East did it for scheduling and TV. Ditto the football schools that were added a dozen years later, all of whom had been floating about unattached.
The SIAA eventually crumbled because its members saw greater opportunities elsewhere. Yet the league spent another two decades drafting new members, each class getting weaker and weaker, until it collapsed for lack of interest.
Is the Big East any different? Not to date. Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College are replaced by Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida. Syracuse and Pitt will give way to who, Navy and Air Force? The league adds basketball schools to prop up that side and save its image, but what of football?
Even if there are no more defections, which is unlikely, there are but two remaining original members of the football side of the Big East - West Virginia and Rutgers. Everyone else was a replacement, including Connecticut.
In other words, it's the mid-1960s all over again and WVU is looking around to find out that the Southern Conference it joined is no longer the Southern Conference. Back then, WVU bailed even though it had nowhere else to go. That's how bad it was.
That can't happen this time, of course. Times change. Independent status without your own network (Notre Dame) isn't an option.
The purpose here, though, is not to explain what will happen now. I don't know. You don't know. And don't believe anyone who tells you they know. They don't. They can only speculate on what their version of logic says will happen. And eventually, if they are correct in guessing one of the approximately 100 scenarios that could play out, they can tell you they knew it all along.
The Big East, like the SIAA 90 years ago, is fighting to rebuild. Perhaps it will have better success, I don't know. John Marinatto, the commissioner saddled with the task, is under fire. There are segments of the membership that believe he should be replaced. I'm not convinced Marinatto is the sharpest tool in the current box of conference commissioners, but I also haven't heard anyone calling for his head who has stepped up with a magic plan of their own.
Just know that history is both on West Virginia's side and against it in all this. It's against the Mountaineers because history suggests that conferences that attempt to simply replace members with the next-best out there generally fail miserably. And WVU is a member of one of those conferences right now.
Then again, West Virginia was in exactly this place 45 years ago and not only survived, but thrived. But remember how long it took. And if you're my age or older, don't hold your breath.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.