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Chuck McGill: WVU made Big 12 move at the right time

Let's pretend, for a moment, that the Big 12 grant-of-rights arrangement that handcuffs West Virginia University to its new brethren, didn't exist.

Hypothetically, what if WVU didn't have to clear the grant-of-rights hurdle - an infinitely more effective protective measure for leagues - and simply had to pony up cash to make itself available to another conference?

Well, the ACC still wouldn't want WVU and WVU shouldn't want the ACC.

In the aftermath of Maryland's defection to the Big 10, which was announced Monday, a few in the social media world began pondering the what ifs of the past year of conference realignment.

Like, what if WVU had stayed in the Big East one more year? Would the ACC come calling now? Would that be a better situation for the Mountaineers' athletic programs, especially when considering the geographic landscape and natural rivalries?

According to persons I talked to over the past 24 hours or so, WVU made the right call. It's hard to a soft spot in that argument in which one can poke holes.

The ACC is vulnerable, and clearly a staggering $50 million buyout isn't a deterrent for even cash-strapped schools.

As realignment begins to reshape the collegiate landscape once again, respected coaches like Mike Brey at Notre Dame and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke are wondering aloud about the future of the league, which already plucked two Big East schools (Pitt and Syracuse).  

Maryland joining the Big 10 - along with Rutgers, which announced Tuesday it was taking its coveted television market to a new league, too - is an unforeseen development that has the ACC scrambling.

Money is the object of every athletic program's desire, but it's clearly no object when securing a brighter and more stable future. The brain trust behind Maryland's move believe the Big 10's bucks outweigh the 59 years of history with the ACC and whatever buyout is negotiated.

That's an option Big 12 members don't truly have. There is no buyout, per se, because the 10 conference cohorts signed on for the 13-year grant-of-rights deal. If WVU wanted to bail on the Big 12, it would leave its television revenue with the league and put itself in a financially precarious position.

That cements WVU's current situation. You'll have to acquiesce that the deal ensures the Big 12 will survive this round of realignment.

Consider this, too, when speculating if any overtures might come from the ACC.  

The ACC was born in 1953. Maryland and six other schools abandoned WVU and the Southern Conference for a new league. Those seven schools were also founding members of the Southern Conference, where WVU called home from 1950-1968.

The ACC added Virginia - also a founding Southern Conference member - later in 1953. Georgia Tech was added in 1978 and Florida State in 1991. Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College departed the Big East for the ACC in 2004 and 2005.

Syracuse and Pitt announced their intentions to do the same last year, and will officially join next season.

Sources I spoke with Tuesday morning said WVU was never, ever considered an option for the league during those periods of expansion.

WVU's new league, however, could be enticed by longstanding ACC members. Rumors have long been that Florida State and Clemson are particularly delectable pigskin powers.

Plus, that would restore order to conference naming gone wrong and give the Big 12 a dozen teams.

Florida State and Clemson being the desired options of the league also show why Brey and those on Tobacco Road are fretting the future. The realization is sinking in that football drives the bus.

The Big 10 and Pac-12 have long had a relationship with the Rose Bowl, and now the 14-team SEC and Big 12 have a Sugar Bowl alliance. The champions of the SEC and Big 12 will meet in New Orleans the next 12 years if they aren't competing in the four-team playoff.

The deal is for 12 years and is worth $80 million.

Those who predicted a college football future of four power conferences and the leftovers can see which leagues will likely sit at the big boys table.

The ACC is on the outside looking in.

WVU is on the other side of the glass.  

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at or 304-348-7949.


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