PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Here's hoping the Big East Conference dramatically and successfully reinvents itself, and the sooner the better.
I know. You couldn't care less, right? After watching the league melt down like the Red Sox in September - much of it largely due to its own head-in-the-sand procrastination - you're just happy to have finally located the emergency exit row and figured out how to open the window.
West Virginia's move to the Big 12 allows you to exhale after more than eight years of holding your breath, beginning with Miami and Virginia Tech jumping ship in the spring of 2003 and continuing through the gasps of reconstruction and then more defections.
So why should you care what happens now to those left on the inside looking out?
Well, a couple of reasons. For starters, the Big East has been good for West Virginia. No, not recently. Not since the football side became a punch line. But say what you will about WVU having to hold up the football side after the initial defections of Miami and Virginia Tech, the fact is those very defections created the opportunity for the Mountaineers' football program to soar.
The Big East could have crumbled after those defections, but somehow Mike Tranghese rebuilt it enough to keep its BCS status, and at the same time turned it into a basketball behemoth. West Virginia was able to take advantage of that reconstruction and become more relevant than at almost any time in its history.
Let's face it, something happened to throw West Virginia into prominence in the last decade - five straight appearances in the final AP Top 25, three in the Top 10 - and if you are loath now to credit Rich Rodriguez for that, then it probably has something to do with being given the opportunity to play in the conference that Tranghese managed to save. (And let's not forget basketball, where the Big East was the best thing that happened to the program since Jerry West).
In other words, while WVU certainly took advantage, the Big East provided the platform.
That's not, however, the best reason to root for the Big East right now. The best reason is because the sooner the Big East moves on, the sooner West Virginia might do the same.
It has to do with the 27-month period in which the Big East swears it will hold West Virginia before allowing it to compete in the Big 12. That would mean staying in the Big East in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years before finally being freed for 2014-15.
It's hard to fault the Big East for drawing a line in the sand. West Virginia and every other school in the league agreed to it. They can't just capitulate. What kind of message does that send?
The reason for the rule, though, is pretty simple. The Big East wanted to be in a position to rebuild after losing schools. A league can't be given notice of a departure in late October of one year and expect to deal with recruiting new members (usually from leagues with their own waiting period), adjusting television contracts, making schedules and everything else by the start of the next school year.
In this case, however, those wheels are already in motion. The Big East has schools lined up. It could all happen in a matter of days. Even with the departures of West Virginia, Syracuse, Pitt and TCU, the Big East could grow from an eight-team football conference to a 12-team league as soon as this week.