According to a recent report from Pete Thamel at the New York Times, the rumors from this morning are true: West Virginia has been accepted into the Big 12 and will announce its intentions to join the league as soon as Missouri leaves for the SEC. Both announcements could come as quickly as within the next 24-48 hours.
Since the Big East had failed to raise their exit fee — the proposed hike was contingent on certain teams joining the league — the Mountaineers will only have to pay a $5 million exit fee. It’s likely that the Big East will try and stall West Virginia like they have threatened to do with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, preventing them from leaving the Big East until 2014, but such stalling tactics won’t save their conference. West Virginia was the Big East’s strongest football program, so Big East commissioner John Marinatto will need to get aggressive with expansion unless he wants to see his conference crumble and fade into irrelevancy.
The only good news for the Big East is that the Big 12 has decided to stay put at 10 teams for now, meaning the Big East isn’t in any more immediate danger of losing more teams. Of course, that’s also bad news for any other Big East teams hoping to flee from the fiery, burning wreck of their conference. The five teams left — USF, UConn, Rutgers, Louisville, and Cincinatti — are looking rather screwed.
What team could possibly want to join the Big East right now? If Marinatto wants to expand and to save his conference, it may already be too late.