Big 12 Realignment: West Virginia Officially Gives The Big 12 Its 10th Team

The new-look Big 12 will feature two new members, as the TCU Horned Frogs and the West Virginia Mountaineers will begin play this September.

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8 Total Updates since October 26, 2011
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Big 12 Realignment: With West Virginia Officially In, Could The Big 12 Be The Best In College Football?

The Big East and West Virginia were able to reach a settlement on Thursday night that would allow the Mountaineers be able to compete athletically in all sports in the Big 12 next season. With the departure of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, the additions of TCU and West Virginia will bring the Big "12" back to 10 teams for 2012. While Missouri and Texas A&M have only been to one BCS bowl game since 1998, TCU and West Virginia have been to five, going 4-1 in said games.

So the obvious question is the following, how good will the Big 12 conference be in 2012?

We all know about the perennial Big 12 superpowers that are the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns, two programs that had "down years" compared to their usual standards. We witnessed the emergence of two programs in Baylor and Oklahoma State, who achieved more in this season than anything fans had ever seen since the formation of the Big 12 conference. Kansas State has rounded back into form under Bill Snyder, Paul Rhoads has things turning around at Iowa State, and then there's Kansas and Texas Tech. So there's that.

TCU and West Virginia combined for a 21-5 record last season and look to be even better with the return of Geno Smith and Casey Pachall at their respective quarterback positions. Could the newest members of the conference take home a Big 12 title in 2012? We'll begin to see on the first weekend of September.

For more on West Virginia, check out The Smoking Musket. For more on TCU, check out Frogs O'War. To follow all the realignment madness, stop by SB Nation's college football news hub.

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Big 12 Realignment: Dodds Shirks Blame, Says Longhorn Network Is 'For The Players' Families'

Relax, everyone: That team-specific network ESPN launched with a single university didn't cause a lopsided revenue stream and alienate fellow conference members, spurring a panicked land rush to other conferences and ultimately starting a seismic shift in the entire college football landscape. No, no, it was just for the kids! And their parents! Says valiant Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds:

Dodds contends that the idea for the Longhorn Network started with student athletes in mind, hoping to provide faraway families and friends an opportunity to watch their loved ones play.

"These kids have parents, these kids have friends, these kids have communities, these kids have high school coaches, and we have fans that would like to watch that. Why do we not try to do something with that?" Dodds said. "And it started with us thinking that we were going to have pay money to do it. That never changed, ever."

Why you wouldn't take Dodds' claims at face value are beyond us: just look at the exotic, worldwide locales the current Longhorns football roster hails from: places like Midland, Texas, Brownsville, Texas, Houston, Texas, Odessa, Texas and far-flung, television-less backwaters like Shreveport, Louisiana and Stillwater Oklahoma? THOSE KIDS MIGHT AS WELL BE FROM MARS! Without the Longhorn Network's wide and saturated coverage area, the parents of those players might have had to risk only seeing their children play 10 or 11 times on ESPN and FSN.

For more on all things noble and valiant in the pious world Texas Longhorns athletics, visit Burnt Orange Nation.

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Big 12 Realignment: Texas Tech To Replace Texas A&M As Texas' Thanksgiving Opponent, Per Report

Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com is reporting (and that's a dubious enough statement, so take this for what it's worth) Texas Tech will replace Texas A&M as the University of Texas' Thanksgiving opponent, likely ending what small chances remained for A&M and UT to find a way to continue a classic rivalry game dating back to 1894. The A&M / Texas series is tied for third all-time with 117 meetings among FBS rivalries. Texas leads the all-time series 75-37-5.

If Brown's report is true, this is a huge boost for Tech, long the third wheel of the biggest public state universities in Texas, and the logical replacement for A&M as the Aggies move to the SEC. Maintaining an annual out-of-conference in-state rivalry as a SEC member is far from unheard of: Florida (Florida State), Georgia (Georgia Tech) and South Carolina (Clemson) have long standing contracts with ACC teams, while Kentucky and Louisville have committed to a long term deal as well (usually in September each year). 

But like all things, this is Texas, and a level of complicating bravado and showmanship from both the Aggies and Longhorns in the wake A&M departure from the Big 12 have all but destroyed the potential for this series to continue. 

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West Virginia Files Suit To Leave The Big East

In an effort to speed up the school's transition to the Big 12, West Virginia filed suit against their former conference, the Big East, on Monday.

The Big East has a provisional 27-month waiting period to leave the conference, which, if enforced, means the Mountaineers cannot join the Big 12 until 2014.

In the suit, West Virginia's lawyers contend that the Big East breached their contract with the school by failing to protect it after the conference lost Syracuse, Pittsburgh and TCU. They also question whether it will be able to maintain its AQ berth during the next round of BCS negotiations, as the remaining football schools -- Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers -- have all been talking to other conferences as well.

The suit places the blame for the Mountaineers departure at the feet of new Big East commissioner John Marinatto, saying that "the denigration of the Big East conference is a direct and proximate result of ineffective leadership and a breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East Conference and its commissioner."

Marinatto, in turn, dismissed the suit, saying that West Virginia has no grounds to void their contract: "Certainly there is nothing in it that would would justify WVU's not fulfilling its obligations," he said in a statement Monday. "To put it simply, a contract is a contract."

In the past, such suits between schools have usually been settled out of court, but the bad blood created by the latest round of conference realignment might make it harder for both sides to agree to split amicably. 

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Big 12 Expansion: West Virginia Officially The League's Tenth Member

This time it's official: the Big 12 issued a press release on Friday morning welcoming West Virginia into the conference.

The school had been connected to the conference for weeks after it became clear that Missouri wanted to leave, with several media outlets announcing the deal was done earlier in the week. But after Louisville, another school looking to leave the Big East, began lobbying for a spot, West Virginia's move was put on hold. 

Conference realignment reached the halls of the US Senate, as Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell personally lobbied the presidents of a few Big 12 schools while West Virginia's senatorial delegation fumed.

But that's all in the past now for the Mountaineers, the latest school to leave a Big East conference now officially on life support. The press release from the Big 12, which says the school was confirmed by a unanimous vote, also has the school officially joining the conference for the 2012-2013 season.

However, the Big East's bylaws can force a school to wait 27-months before leaving the conference, and they haven't given any indication that they'll waive that waiting period.

Now SMU, which was celebrating its invitation to a BCS AQ conference a few weeks ago, will have to re-evaluate whether it still wants to join a conference that everyone else is leaving.

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Big 12 Realignment: Louisville, West Virginia Reportedly '50/50'

The conference realignment carousel continues to spin at a dizzying pace, as West Virginia, which was widely reported to be accepting an invitation to join the Big 12 to replace Missouri, is suddenly in limbo. According to the New York Times' Pete Thamel, the Big 12 schools might be favoring Louisville, another Big East school, instead:

 Pete Thamel 
Just filed to NYT: After being told it was accepted to Big12, WVU in holding pattern. Its "50-50" and "too close to call" with Lville.

West Virginia has the better football program and a national brand, all be it one that prominently features couch-burning. On the other hand, Louisville is a much better geographic fit with the rest of the conference.

Both have become basketball schools under legendary coaches Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Bob Huggins (West Virginia), who have each made a Final Four in recent years.

The school that loses the battle to be Missouri's replacement may still have a chance at the Big 12, depending on whether the conference wants to stay at 10 teams or go back to 12 in order to field a championship game in football. 

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Big 12 Realignment: Missouri's Move Could Cause Domino Effect

The Big 12's reaction could cause even more conference realignment moves, including jeopardizing SMU's jump to the Big East.

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