MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Fort Worth Stockyards will be more alive than usual Saturday night when Texas Christian University celebrates its official entry into the Big 12 Conference.
The Horned Frogs are inviting the public to the Rodeo Plaza at 11:45 p.m. and counting down the final moments before they enter their new conference at midnight.
Guests from TCU and the Big 12 will be on hand, as will cheerleaders and SuperFrog, the school mascot. There's even a Merle Haggard concert.
Proof again that everything is bigger in Texas.
West Virginia will mark the same occasion later in the day Sunday with a private picnic for its teams, coaches, administrators and other exclusive guests. They'll all spend some time with the Big 12's incoming commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, and enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers.
"I think a lot of people would say it's a historic day, but it's hard to say it's a historic day when you're in the moment," WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck said. "At the end of the day, everyone is going to wake up Sunday and do what they do on a Sunday, but they'll come to a barbeque and maybe get to know the new commissioner a little.
"We've been working toward this Big 12 thing for a good seven, eight months now, but I do think as we get down the road a little, people will look back at July 1, 2012, and most folks will say, 'That really was history.' "
Technically, the Mountaineers became part of the Big 12 Oct. 28, but can't leave the Big East Conference, which has been their home in football since 1991 and all other sports since 1995, until Sunday. WVU will be the easternmost team in the Big 12 and the first from the Eastern Time Zone.
Getting here was far from easy, though, and the business of conference affiliation began almost as soon as Luck came aboard in June 2010. He was announced as the A.D. at his alma mater June 9, the day before it looked like the Big 12 was in peril as Nebraska left for the Big Ten and Colorado left for the Pac-12.
On June 14, Luck was introduced at a press conference at the football stadium as word came out that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would defy widespread chatter by staying in the Big 12 rather than go to the Pac-12.
"My gut told me there would continue to be movement," Luck said.
WVU never stopped tracking the activities, whether real or rumored, of other schools and conferences and was always attuned to what people were saying and thinking about the Mountaineers. Luck likened it to having a game plan for a big game and making adjustments on the go.
Last Sept. 17, Syracuse and Pittsburgh notified the Big East it was leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. A month later, WVU was headed to the Big 12.
"Thankfully," Luck said, "we were well-prepared, we had a good plan, we made the right adjustments and we followed a winning formula."