Big East school West Virginia is the Big 12's top expansion target should Missouri head to the SEC, according to a report.
Missouri has flirted with joining the SEC for the past few months, but a report last week indicated that the school's application was imminent and inevitable and that Missouri was expected to have the necessary support to join the SEC.
After initial speculation that Missouri could be headed to the SEC, Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told reporters there was no consensus among Big 12 members on whether to expand to 10 schools or 12 schools.
But the Austin American Statesman reported on Sunday that the current sentiment within the Big 12 is to expand to only 10 teams and to pursue West Virginia as the 10th school.
I think that's accurate, one school official told the American Statesman. I'd say West Virginia is the leader in the clubhouse. I think we'll come out better than before. I'd rather be with someone who wants to be with our conference than anybody who doesn't.
West Virginia had recently agreed with the rest of the Big East football schools to increase the Big East's exit fee to $10 million, but that fee doesn't go into effect until after another school -- Air Force and/or Navy -- agrees to join the conference.
Until that happens, the exit fee would remain $5 million for West Virginia, but the school would have to wait 27 months to leave like Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
The lengthy Big East holding period is one of the reasons why initial speculation pointed to the Big 12 adding BYU if only expanding to 10 teams, but the Statesman reported that the Big 12 soured on the idea of BYU and that the Mormon school didn't fit the culture of the rest of the conference.
If West Virginia ends up leaving the Big East to become the Big 12's 10th school, it likely wouldn't bother basketball coach Bob Huggins.
Huggins, who has coached at West Virginia since 2007, told the IBTimes at the Big East's basketball media day that he'd prefer to play in a conference with only 10 schools.
With 10 teams you play everyone twice and you have a true champion, Huggins told the IBTimes. A lot of times with 16 teams the best team doesn't win the regular season.
Huggins admitted that he liked being in the Big East, but that he has coached in multiple difference conferenced during his coaching career and that a move wouldn't bother him.
It'd probably change how we recruit a bit, Huggins said about a possible move to the Big 12.
According to the American Statesman, the Big 12's second option is Louisville. Louisville is another Big East school that has affirmed its commitment to the conference, especially basketball coach Rick Pitino, but would likely jump at a chance at additional stability.
The article reports that some actually prefer Louisville to West Virginia within the conference, but that the school's recent football struggles but it behind West Virginia in the preferred pecking order.
While Huggins seems to be at ease should a move happen, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino doesn't feel the same. Pitino blasted Pittsburgh and Syracuse at the Big East media day, as he had previously in a blog post, for not showing more respect to a conference they had been with for close to 30 years.
My problem is not them leaving, Pitino said. My problem is you did it in 36-48 hours. Don't run away with a girl after one date to get married in Las Vegas when you've been dating someone else for three or four years. You've been dating this woman for 30 years, show a little respect.
Pitino mentioned that he thought a West Virginia or Louisville leaving the Big East made a bit more sense than Syracuse leaving the Big East for the North Carolina-centric ACC. Pitino, who admittedly is on the latter portion of his coaching career, fully supports the Big East's continued existence, but likely won't have that big of a say should Louisville move to another conference.
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