MORGANTOWN - This is not the first time West Virginia has fired a preemptive strike in what is sure to become a protracted and messy legal battle.
The school is actually getting pretty good at this, or at least gaining experience.
Remember, it was stunning, too, in December of 2007 when everyone knew Rich Rodriguez was going to eventually sue WVU to escape paying his $4 million buyout, and the university beat him to the punch by suing him first.
So why wait now for the Big East to file suit over that sticky 27-month clause in the by-laws? Have attorneys, will sue.
Does anyone else, though, think this is a bit over the top? Yeah, I thought so.
On the one hand, WVU is backed into a corner here and time is of the essence. Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas flat-out admits that West Virginia was invited to that league in part because WVU officials were confident they could begin play next year. The Big 12 needs a 10th team to satisfy the requirements of its television partners. So the sooner the process starts, the sooner it will be settled.
But doesn't the way WVU is going about it seem a bit like cutting butter with a chainsaw?
I wrote a few days ago that the school should probably root for the Big East to reconstitute quickly for two reasons. First, the sooner the Big East adds members, the sooner it has no room for West Virginia on league schedules. And second, it's just the civil way of doing things in the wholly uncivil landscape of conference realignment. In other words, take the high road, man.
Well, so much for the high road.
Granted, there are good reasons for acting quickly, not the least of which is to put it initially in a West Virginia court and not one in Providence, R.I., where the Big East is headquartered. And, too, if you are filing suit, you'd better make your case as strong as possible. So if that means painting John Marinatto as Bozo the Clown, well, I guess there's not much choice.
But there are two things I can't help but think could come back to bite West Virginia. One, the school's main argument in the suit - aside from Marinatto failing in his responsibilities to maintain a vital Big East - seems to be that Pitt and Syracuse leaving for the ACC was the last straw. WVU wants to paint itself as an innocent victim. Watch those phone records, though, because if there are traces of West Virginia contacting the ACC, the SEC, the Big 12 or anyone else prior to the announcements by Pitt and Syracuse, suddenly much of that innocence is lost.
Second, there are the mere attitudes involved here.