Hopefully, for WVU, for its fans, a perfect storm arises. Right now, however, there is but a light mist. Officials at the school might be forced to make the best of a bad situation.
The best might be a patched-up version of the worst BCS football conference. If, that is, the Big East survives as a BCS conference.
The most ghastly scenario for WVU? Rutgers and Connecticut are admitted to the ACC and Louisville moves to the Big 12. That leaves football schools Cincinnati, South Florida and West Virginia. Period. (The good news? They could split all those exit fees. The bad? Eight teams are needed to constitute a conference.)
If perchance all six of the above remain after the picking season, the Big East could add teams like Air Force, Navy, Temple, Central Florida and East Carolina. Keep in mind, though, the Mountain West and Conference USA have been advancing the idea of a combined football setup. That might be more attractive than a crippled Big East, especially if the league is stripped of its BCS berth.
Have WVU officials considered independent status? Yes, but then there would be no conference income. Also, scheduling football games would be a nightmare. Most of the expanding power conferences will move to nine league games, leaving only three openings for non-conference matchups. Why take on a dangerous WVU team in addition to nine SEC, etc., teams?
West Virginia already has a scheduling problem for next year with TCU bailing.
So don't count on the independent route. Yes, WVU was an independent for years before the Big East. But ditto almost every school in the Northeast. Scheduling wasn't a problem.
Instead, count on WVU doing its best within what's left of the Big East. There are the exit fees to consider. There's the minimal television money. There are the NCAA basketball money units earned via league teams in the tournament. There's basketball.
Is there an outside shot WVU can still land within one of the power conferences? Yes. Mountaineer fans just shouldn't get cozy with the idea. The West Virginia athletic department is sweating. The vibes coming from the athletic department aren't good.
If West Virginia, though, doesn't land safely, it will be a shame. It will be a shame for the man in the Slaton jersey. It will be a shame for all like him, the WVU fans who live and breathe Mountaineer football.
These hills, which sometimes aren't alive with the sound of music, but, rather, Tony Caridi's voice calling games, wouldn't be the same if WVU is left standing. Not after the school fought and scratched to become a Top 25 program. Not after its proud fans experienced the sweet taste of BCS victories and lofty final rankings.
It would be a shame if, after all that, the Little Program That Could simply can't.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.