MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- In the hopefully not-too-distant future, West Virginia and the Big East Conference are going to drop their weapons and end this legal tug-o-war.
The two sides are supposed to sit down for a court-scheduled status conference Thursday and engage in non-binding mediation. It sure seems like all work preceding a resolution is done.
Either that, or WVU made a colossal and arrogant mistake on Friday when it told Florida State it was begging out of the 2012 game between the schools.
That's going to cost WVU $500,000 - a $350,000 penalty in the game contract plus $150,000 in damages because WVU breached the contract after a certain date - although the Big 12 could be benevolent to its newest acquisition and pick up that tab, one that's smallish when put next to the many millions of dollars the Mountaineers will need to buy their freedom from the Big East.
And that freedom is coming. Has to be. There's no reason to think otherwise at this point. Cutting Florida State loose is both a matter of scheduling logistics and a tip about the future.
The Mountaineers had four non-conference games on the 2012 schedule. A Big 12 schedule has nine conference games. Teams can only play 12. Do the addition and you understand the subtraction. WVU sacrificed the Seminoles because there would be no room for them on the schedule.
There's no way West Virginia dismisses Florida State unless the Mountaineers are absolutely certain they won't be a part of the Big East in 2012 and has a guarantee from the Big East. We could see that Thursday.
It could be that the two sides have already reached a proposed settlement and that they'll submit it to the judge that requested this hearing.
That judge will then agree or disagree with the proposal and make sure the terms are fair and equal for both sides and any third parties that may be involved and affected by the conclusion.
Then it's just a matter hand-wringing, as WVU tries to justify the expense relative to the act, especially now as Syracuse and Pitt make tidy, patient Big East exits for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The money spent on Florida State could be misleading. Again, the Big 12, which hopes to have the WVU as soon as possible, could cover the buyout or contribute to it - but not yet, or not in a way to involve itself in the lawsuit.
There's also a condition in the game contract that could allow WVU to get away for free if Florida State can find a comparable opponent. If WVU does leave the Big East, there are then seven Big East schools that will need a game and would love to play at Doak Campbell Stadium and probably on national television, too.
Yet good luck getting the Seminoles to agree that any of those Big East replacements are comparable - and hasn't WVU kind of suggested it is beyond compare in the Big East by forcing its exit?
The Seminoles might also end up paying WVU. The two schools had a series set for 2012 and 2013 and only the 2012 game has been nixed. The 2013 game is scheduled for Mountaineer Field and WVU won't mind playing host for that occasion.
Florida State might object to a one-game contract for a road game and buy its way out of the game, which would essentially return to WVU whatever money it spends on erasing the 2012 game.