Louisville and West Virginia continue to sit in limbo on Thursday as the Big 12 weighs its options in choosing to offer one of the schools an invitation to join the conference.

West Virginia was told that it was a done deal on Tuesday, but a last-minute push by Louisville and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has turned the situation into a complete mess.

Mitch McConnell talked about the merits of Louisville and nothing else, Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told The New York Times. Why shouldn't he be sticking up for Kentucky? I think the guys from West Virginia got caught flat-footed not sticking up for West Virginia.

West Virginia senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have both vowed to get to the bottom of the situation, as Louisville and West Virginia battle each other to escape the sinking Big East.

Manchin promised to fight to get the truth and said that West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Big 12 is in a holding pattern and that it was 50-50 between  Louisville and West Virginia for the 10th - and likely last - spot in the Big 12. Some have speculated that the Big 12 is waiting for Missouri to formally withdraw, but the main issue is that the Big 12 can't make up its mind.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech prefer Louisville to West Virginia, according to the Charleston Post-Gazette, but ESPN -- despite a formal denial -- and the rest of the conference think that the Mountaineers are the better option.

West Virginia has a better fan base, a more well-known sports reputation, and would likely garner more television money, but Hance said that West Virginia's far distance from the rest of the conference could be a detriment to student-athletes.

What happens at this point is anyone's guess. The Big 12 could conceivably invite both schools and then look to add BYU or another school to complete a 12-team conference. It would enable the school to have a football conference championship, but would also invite more mouths to feed and less money to spread around.

But the more likely option is still that it adds only one school to replace Missouri, which is expected to join the SEC soon, and the top option is still likely West Virginia.

The only possible benefactor in this whole mess could be the Big East. It's strange to call any conference set to lose at least one of its more attractive members to another conference a benefactor, but the holding pattern allows the Big East to move quickly and hopefully solidify things.

The New York Post reported that Big East commissioner John Marinatto and one of his football lieutenants traveled to Air Force and Boise State to get their commitments to the Big East. The conference is hoping to gain a few commitments from programs in order to hold together a conference that many claim to be on its last legs.

Further, the Big East could earn an additional $5 million if it can convince Air Force or another school to sign on to the Big East. The Big East's exit fee currently sits at $5 million, but would jump to $10 million if Air Force agrees to join the conference.

That means that if Air Force or Boise State commit to the Big East before the Big 12 settles this mess, Louisville or West Virginia would owe the Big East an extra $5 million.

The loss of Louisville or West Virginia would still be a monumental blow to the Big East, but if it's bound to happen regardless a little extra time for the conference to sort things out is a good thing.