CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the last few days, West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck has been labeled as "loony" by a respected Syracuse newspaper columnist and an "idiot" by a veteran ESPN play-by-play man.
Say what you will about Luck, but the second-year WVU athletic chief does what he says he is going to do, damn the consequences.
The Mountaineers are headed to the Big 12 Conference, leaving behind the Big East, where the future is really not about realignment, but survival.
It was little more than five weeks ago when longtime West Virginia foes Pitt and Syracuse announced they were leaving the Big East for the ACC, starting the latest round of major college musical chairs.
Reacting to that, Luck said, "No matter how the college athletic landscape changes, there is no doubt WVU is and will remain a national player."
He's helped assure that, tying together his athletic backgrounds in the Mountain State and Lone Star State.
So, the Mountaineers will be traveling to Waco and Ames rather than Piscataway and Storrs, but they'll also share a conference tie with Oklahoma and Texas rather than Central Florida and SMU.
As forecast here first last month, the linchpin for WVU fortunes would be Missouri. Once the Tigers played their hand, West Virginia was going to know for certain whether it needed a Mayflower truck.
Luck and WVU President Jim Clements were playing three hands in this high-stakes poker game, with the Big East, Big 12 and SEC.
Mizzou is following Texas A&M to the SEC. For the Big East, with WVU following the rival Panthers and Orange out the door, may find that Bowl Championship Series "AQ" stands for "awfully questionable" rather than "automatic qualifier."
It says here that West Virginia comes out a winner, and it's expected to become official today when Big 12 Conference bigwigs show up on the Morgantown campus for an official welcome.
No couch burning, please. It's OK to fire off a musket round or two.
WVU could have taken the easy way out and stayed as the beast of the Big East, but how meaningful would that have been?
The Mountaineers had to go now, because if they didn't, Louisville would have ... again, diminishing the Big East.
WVU will find football success harder to come by in the Big 12, but not as difficult as trying to get to the BCS or second- or third-tier bowl in the SEC.
West Virginia chose stability (BCS and otherwise) - and money - over geography.
It's going to cost West Virginia more in travel costs to play in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers are going to bring in more revenue.
Let's run some numbers.
The closest drive to Morgantown in the Big 12 is Iowa State, about 870 miles.
WVU received $7.049 million in Big East revenue sharing last school year, and that includes TV, bowls, NCAA basketball units, Olympic sports success, etc.
In the Big 12, with its ESPN deal that runs through 2016 and a secondary deal with Fox through 2025, the average annual payout from telecast rights alone could reach $15 million per school in a 10-team configuration.
Tack on bowl and NCAA Tournament hoops bucks on top of that. And when the first-tier deal is up for renegotiation in a few years, that $60 million for the conference annually will grow substantially, as TV dollars have in the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC