MORGANTOWN - When Dana Holgorsen was told for a second time last week West Virginia was headed to the Big 12 Conference, the Mountaineers' football coach gathered his team and told them that what they thought was true last Tuesday was finally true Friday.
"We brought the guys together for about 30 seconds and told them it was official, but then we told them it doesn't mean anything," Holgorsen said. "It doesn't mean anything with this week and it doesn't mean anything next week."
The 24th-ranked Mountaineers are instead focused only on the goal they had at the start of the season. They want to win the Big East title. If that means taking the 2011 conference championship with them to the Big 12 next year, so be it, but the future does nothing to the present.
WVU (6-2, 2-1 Big East) plays host to Louisville (4-4, 2-1) at noon Saturday. The noon kickoff at Mountaineer Field will be televised on the Big East Network.
"With that said, as a program, I'm excited, I can assure you that," said Holgorsen, who spent seven seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech and one season at Oklahoma State inside the Big 12. "I understand the Big 12 and what they're about from a national perspective, from a facilities perspective and from an academic perspective.
"The amount of changes and challenges that are going to take place here at West Virginia is something that will take a long time to get done. It's a huge task - it's not an overnight fix. It's great to be able to solidify our future and what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to be successful."
As a football member of the Big East since 1991, WVU eventually developed the best football facilities in the conference and venues for most of its other sports to at least rival the best the league had to offer.
The Mountaineers won't compare quite as favorably right away in the Big 12.
Milan Puskar Stadium will have only the sixth-largest capacity in a Big 12 that includes Missouri, although some of the schools ahead of WVU don't have much of an edge.
WVU has an indoor practice facility with a 70-yard field and a low ceiling that prevents kicking and punting and special teams drills. Holgorsen also said in the preseason he prefers to practice on the grass practice field because it's easier on the body, but was worried about practicing there too much and wearing out the surface.
He said the Mountaineers not only will identify and address challenges across the board, but that they'll have to if they want to compete.
"It's a step up now," he said. "The Big East is the most competitive conference I've been in. Period. From top to bottom, it's the most competitive conference I've been in - within the conference. The Big 12, as far as setting the standard from a facilities standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint, from a TV exposure standpoint, to an academic standpoint, is something that they set the bar very, very high.
"I know that West Virginia is capable of adding to that. From a fan-base perspective, from how many people go to the games, it's something we're going to have to evaluate and try to make it as good as we can to be able to compete."