A WHILE back in this space, I said there was an outside shot West Virginia could land in a conference other than the Big East. But I warned that, in the end, the Mountaineers might have to settle for the rebuilt league.
Today, nothing has changed - except the options for escaping in the short term seem to have dwindled to one: the Big 12.
The consolation for WVU: A resolution could come relatively soon, for better or worse.
The New York Times on Monday night reported that Missouri's decision to leave the Big 12 and apply for membership to the SEC was "inevitable and imminent."
A WVU official, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Tuesday his sense is the Mountaineers' chances at joining the SEC are now "slim and none." The thought was WVU might have had a chance at the SEC had Missouri stayed within the Big 12.
So it seems to be the Big 12 or bust. Or, at least, the Big 12 or the busted, rebuilding Big East for the foreseeable future.
If Missouri does indeed move to the SEC, West Virginia's shot at joining the Big 12 might boil down to whether the league wishes to expand from nine to 10 or 12 or more teams.
The Big 12 could take in WVU and be done. It could do the same by taking Louisville. Or Boise State. BYU could jump back in the mix. Different sources say different teams lead that race.
One very reliable source told me TCU, WVU and Louisville have been the only schools seriously discussed within Big 12 circles. TCU, of course, has already been lassoed.
So the Big 12 is deciding. And the word I get is it is nearing a decision whether to go to 10 or 12 teams.
That decision is very important to WVU. If the Big 12 expands by three, the Mountaineers are almost a shoo-in to be included.
The thought from here: The Big 12 should absolutely expand by adding three teams and moving to 12.
Beside the tiny matter of it matching the conference's name, adding three would give the league the option of staging a league championship. Even if it decides not to hold one now, it will have the option in future years.
Also - and here's the key to this whole merry-go-round - if the Big 12 (or any other conference for that matter) has designs on moving to 12 or 14 or 16 or however many teams, the time is now to grab the desired teams.
Why? Because if the Big 12 doesn't grab, say, WVU now, the Mountaineers might be locked into the Big East for years. They might not be on the market.
I hear you scoffing. An exit fee of $10 million isn't going to keep WVU from moving. The Mountaineers can pony that up if it wishes to leave, right?
Right. But what the Big East is moving toward is the granting of media rights. That's the path of Big Ten teams via the Big Ten Network. It's the path of Big 12 teams, which pledged their first- and second-tier rights to the conference for six years. It's the path of the Pac-12 via its blockbuster deal.