MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Barely two weeks ago, West Virginia settled its exit from a two-game football series with Florida State and seemed to have achieved scheduling serenity through 2016.
The Big 12 provided nine conference games every year and the Mountaineers had contractual agreements with three non-conference opponents for each season. Worries about complications from preexisting series with Michigan State and Florida State disappeared.
Wednesday night, however, WVU admitted a season-opening game against Alabama in 2014 was close to reality, which sent the scheduling wheels spinning.
The matchup was made official Thursday for Aug. 30, 2014. Initially, Deputy Director of Athletics Mike Parsons said the game against the Crimson Tide in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome was "in the works," but could not confirm anything.
The explanation is simple: WVU needed to make room for Alabama by unloading one of the three non-conference games on the 12-game schedule: at home against the FCS's Towson or on the road against Maryland or East Carolina.
A WVU source said Wednesday the game at ECU in 2014 was pushed back. An ECU source said Thursday the two schools have recently had conversations about dates as well as sites for future games.
The six-year series with the Pirates returns with a game at Mountaineer Field in 2013 and runs through 2018. The two sides have been talking about stretching the series and swapping home and road games to accommodate schedules for both teams.
It's also conceivable that they play an off-campus/neutral-site game. WVU has a few lined up in coming years, including 2012-14 and 2016. ECU played and beat Virginia Tech in Charlotte, N.C., in 2008. The Pirates also beat the Mountaineers there in 1999.
The 2015 and 2017 games between the Mountaineers and Pirates are tentatively planned for Mountaineer Field and for now WVU doesn't have an off-campus game scheduled.
The maneuvering might not end there.
WVU and Maryland play every year through 2017, but that could change with the Atlantic Coast Conference welcoming Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East in 2014 - or perhaps in 2013 now that the Panthers have sued the Big East to exit in time for the 2013 season.
Whenever Pitt and Syracuse join the Terrapins in the ACC, the conference will have 14 teams and change its league schedule from eight games to nine. Maryland will have to make room on its schedule, which could cost WVU its spot.
Then there's the matter of WVU's conference affiliation. Florida State has been in the news for, at the very least, a future connection to the Big 12. Should that happen, the Seminoles would enter with another team and give the Big 12 a dozen teams, thus changing the way it schedules games.
The Big 12 could keep a nine-game schedule or it could drop to eight, which would give WVU another non-conference opportunity to address.