I'm not naïve enough to believe that the Big East was ever going to treat West Virginia with kindness, but there was at least a chance for an amicable parting of the ways. Look at Pitt and Syracuse. They aren't raising a fuss with the Big East holding tight to its 27-month clause. Granted, there isn't any urgency in their departures (the ACC is apparently fine with waiting two more years), but eventually the Big East is going to be ready to move on and won't want those schools muddying their scheduling waters. The Big East says that's not the case and that those schools will be held to the 27 months, but at the point new members are added, that just becomes a negotiating ploy. Pitt and Syracuse may have to buy their way out, but the offer to do that short of 27 months will still come.
As for West Virginia? Not on your life. Not now. Not after trashing the living room on the way out of the party.
If I'm the Big East this only strengthens my resolve. New schools? Need to free up scheduling space? Fine, let Pitt and Syracuse go. But not West Virginia. Hold WVU's feet to the fire and don't let it go, no matter how inconvenient its presence might be. It's become a grudge match now.
All of which is not to say that West Virginia won't be playing in the Big 12 next season. It will. All of the legal posturing is just that - posturing. If West Virginia wants to play in the Big 12 it will just walk away from the Big East.
There will be damages involved, though. If WVU isn't successful in this initial court move - or any that immediately follow - checks will be written. Big ones. If I'm the Big East, I don't just sue West Virginia for TV money and revenue sharing, I send my member schools after WVU for breach of contract, too. I bury WVU in court cases from Tampa to Piscataway and from Storrs to Milwaukee.
The bottom line is that West Virginia has taken a huge gamble in trying to machine gun its way out of the Big East. In taking the offensive, it has likely put itself squarely on the defensive, not only against the Big East leadership, but the league's members, as well. Sure, a lot of them want out, too (UConn, Rutgers, Louisville), but they suddenly went from perhaps being happy for one of their lucky brothers who escaped to "Hey! What?''
There is also the perception that Pitt and Syracuse are rooting for WVU in its legal efforts. If you really think about it, though, that might not be the case. Again, it goes back to those two major points West Virginia is trying to make in its suit. If it is somehow successful in proving Marinatto's incompetence, fine. But Pitt and Syracuse can't argue West Virginia's other main point, which is that Pitt and Syracuse's departure was the last straw.
And what of public perception? West Virginia had it hard enough trying to convince people that it wasn't being petty for holding Rodriguez to the fire - remember all the jilted girlfriend comparisons? Now the school is Rodriguez, bad-mouthing its ex in order to get out from under the prenuptial agreement. That's not likely to play well.
Again, though, in the end it will be resolved. Money will exchange hands. Ultimately all of this, even if WVU outright wins its suit, will come down to who pays what.
Which is exactly how it would have worked out had West Virginia not taken this hardline stance.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.