MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University President Jim Clements has gotten to know his counterparts in the Big 12 through a series of conversations that, at some point, grow to include what the Mountaineers should know about its new conference and vice versa.
Those chats tend to end somewhat similarly.
"They all say we're a great fit and they can't wait to play us and a couple of them said, 'We took note of the Orange Bowl and we're a little scared,' " Clements said. "Now, they're joking, but they're not."
WVU's football team, fresh off its seventh conference championship and third Bowl Championship Series win in its 21st and final season in the Big East, will be ranked in the preseason and most commonly in the top 15.
Among new Big 12 rivals, perhaps only Oklahoma will be consistently higher in the polls and the Sooners figure to be the only team that will keep the Mountaineers from earning the designation of the 2012 favorite in the conference preseason polls.
Of less immediate, though no less important, concern are the men's and women's basketball teams. The men's team returns a number of guards and post players from an NCAA Tournament team and welcomes a transfer guard and center. Those Mountaineers might have the same preseason potential as the football team.
The women's team, which won 24 games and made the NCAA Tournament, has every contributor coming back and adds perhaps Coach Mike Carey's best recruiting class. They, too, will be expected to compete right away.
Up and down the list, including women's soccer, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and cross country and track and field, WVU figures to be competitive either as a team or with individuals - or both.
None of that factors in Texas Christian University, which also joined the Big 12 on Sunday. TCU also has a competitive football team and smaller sports that may very well compete for and win titles in their debut Big 12 season.
It all conspired to ask a question of conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby: Is it good for the league or bad for the league if the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs make a lot of noise and collect some trophies in the 2012-13 season?
"In the best of all circumstances, you bring in members who are highly competitive and I think TCU and West Virginia will both be highly competitive in football," Bowlsby said as diplomatically as his position demands. "Right out of the chute, both the new institutions can clearly go on the football field and compete with teams in the Big 12.
"That's what makes a conference great - great competition every week. It isn't a good thing when there's a big separation between the top of the league and the bottom of the league and when the same teams dominate all the time."
The smaller sports must move aside for football since these conference shifts are driven by money and football. Both TCU and WVU fit from the start.
Since 1998, the dawn of the BCS era, eight schools have won the Big 12 championship (either the championship game or the regular season title in the absence of a championship game). Only Oklahoma (seven) and Texas (two) have won multiple titles. Texas A&M, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas State and Oklahoma State have each won one.