The urgency for West Virginia football to get into the Big 12 for the next school year should be about more than keeping the conference's telecast deal intact.
Coming off an impressive Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, West Virginia needs to get into a much tougher football challenge with a team that can really compete, not one that will be playing in 2013 with a new starting quarterback and no Tavon Austin.
If WVU doesn't play Big 12 football until 2013, they'd be looking at a potential bottom-half transition while rebuilding in the 10-team conference standings.
If you've perused some of the "way early" prognostications for 2012 - granted, some of these can be right out of a Punxsutawney burrow's zip code - the Mountaineers are highly regarded for their presumed Big 12 debut.
That's because they'll be making it with quarterback Geno Smith, Austin and four other experienced receivers, running back Shawne Alston, four offensive line starters returning (including guard Josh Jenkins, who missed 2011 injured) and a new defensive scheme with seven starters back.
Using four of those early polls - done after the bowls and some even tweaked after signing day - WVU fares well among Big 12 members for next season, with Oklahoma the highest-ranked league team in all four (ESPN, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Athlon).
In those four website top 25s, in order, West Virginia ranked Nos. 7, 10, 13 and 13 nationally. WVU was second to the Sooners (Nos. 4, 7, 7, 5) in three of the four, and third behind No. 12 Texas in Athlon and No. 10 TCU in SI.
Each poll had six of the 10 Big 12 programs in the top 25 (Oklahoma, WVU, Texas, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State). By comparison, using a Big East scale, WVU was the only team in those polls except for a No. 23 spot for Louisville, by Athlon.
WVU has finished no worse than second - including six outright or shared titles - in the last 10 Big East seasons. The degree of difficulty will be much greater for Coach Dana Holgorsen's program now, but getting where the Mountaineers are going with Geno will aid the orientation process greatly.
IT WILL be no surprise here if Florida State files a lawsuit for liquidated damages for the WVU cancellation of their Sept. 8 football game at Doak Campbell Stadium. The deal has a Mountaineer "out" if the Seminoles can find a "comparable" opponent.
However, none of the other seven Big East teams that will have an opening because of WVU leaving the conference are comparable, because they won't help land a likely top-15 matchup on ESPN in prime time with all the Tallahassee trappings of Lee Corso and Co.
In an interview after getting WVU's cancellation letter last week, 'Noles AD Randy Spetman ticked off several possible "damages" to add to WVU's presumed $500,000 buyout of the game, including reduced ticket sales, possible travel costs for a fill-in foe, etc.