If it does, and if those schools are ready to begin play next year, the Big East not only won't need WVU and the others, they shouldn't want them. If the Big East wants and needs to move forward, how can it possibly do so by forcing Rutgers to play West Virginia instead of opening that spot for Central Florida?
The trouble is, though, this is actually a double-edged sword. West Virginia needs to move on as quickly as possible. Apparently in doing so the school will argue in whatever legal proceedings come out of it - and you know there will be legal proceedings if both sides maintain a hard line - that it shouldn't be held to the 27-month rule because the Big East as presently constituted is not the league with which they signed that deal.
In that context, perhaps you root against the Big East. "Look,'' you tell the judge, "we signed up with Pitt and Syracuse and we thought TCU was coming. They're gone. And now you're going to make us stay in this Pop Warner league? This isn't what we signed up for.''
It appears more likely, though, that the Big East will find a way to reconstruct, despite its own best efforts to dawdle. If that's the case, West Virginia's argument that the league is now a pit of despair might not hold as much water.
It still could work, of course, but it's all just so, well, messy, isn't it? Conference realignment is just that way. It all has an odor of desperation and back-handedness.
West Virginia's move to the Big 12 is no different. You have to look out for No. 1, no matter where the resultant dominoes fall.
Ultimately, money will likely talk. If WVU wants out bad enough and can't do it to the liking of the Big East, the school will simply breach the contract and leave. Maybe it will be via negotiation and WVU agrees to pay a lump sum, or perhaps the school just walks away and lets the courts handle it. It doesn't really matter. If WVU wants to leave, it can leave. It does and it will.
There will likely be money there to pay for it. Eventually. It's not quite clear what WVU's split of Big 12 revenues will be at the outset, but it's expected to be a partial share in perhaps the first years - increasing each year - before the school begins sharing in Big 12 revenue as an equal partner. Still, the money will be better than it is now even in partial shares, so it is to be had for buyouts or whatever.
But wouldn't it be nice if this time everyone came out feeling OK about it? If that takes West Virginia actually rooting for the Big East, then so be it.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.