For West Virginia, allowing the Big East to somehow trumpet a small victory like that was a small price to pay. Much smaller, in fact, than $20 million.
Pitt and Syracuse, though, have not yet attempted to skirt the Big East's 27-month rule and will remain in the Big East for at least the 2012-13 school year. It seems a certainty, though, that both schools will attempt to make the jump in 2013-14, a year early.
Those schools are likely to have far less trouble doing so because the Big East is adding six new schools in 2013-14 and will have no reason to keep Pitt and Syracuse. The Big East needed to try to keep West Virginia because without the Mountaineers only seven football-playing members remain in the conference and the other league teams are now a game short for this fall.
The difference is that WVU never, ever tried to make Rodriguez live up to his contract, which is what the whole WVU-Big East mess was about. West Virginia simply said to Rodriguez, fine, you leave, you pay what's in the contract. And after a few ugly months of bickering, Rodriguez did exactly that. No one ever suggested he stick around and coach.
Granted, WVU's contract with the Big East stipulated a 27-month waiting period to get out - in addition to a $5 million exit fee - but circumstances often change. Rodriguez tried to argue that WVU was not living up to its end of their contract in many ways, and as a result he shouldn't have to pay his $4 million buyout. In the end he realized that was a fruitless argument and paid the full amount.
West Virginia made a similar argument that the Big East wasn't living up to what WVU expected from its conference by allowing wholesale defections. Despite that, the school was perfectly willing to pay the exit fee, plus additional damages, to forego the 27-month waiting period. Just as Rodriguez eventually saw the futility in pressing the issue and settled, so did the Big East.
I still don't like the way West Virginia went about its exit in a scorched-earth manner, attacking the Big East in a venomous suit rather than taking a more diplomatic approach. I understand the urgency, but it merely made the Big East more resolved to fight to the end as well as further sullying WVU's reputation as overly litigious.
In the end, though, the Big East got what it always pretty much knew would be its best resolution (a big check) and WVU got what it needed (off of a sinking football ship).
Only in that way are the Rodriguez and Big East messes the same: WVU got its check and Rich got out. But like WVU, he had to pay to do it.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.