Even

Even U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is getting involved in conference realignment, pushing for Louisville's move from Big East to Big 12 over Louisville.

Well, now the Big 12 is just playing realignment games with the Big East.

Is this American Idol? A Miss America pageant? First down the runway -- West Virginia. You're an attractive option. Good football and basketball programs. A passionate athletic department with a strong commitment to athletics. A passionate fan base that can't get enough.

But, West Virginia, how will you make world peace happen?

Candidate No. 2: Louisville. Tuesday it's West Virginia. Wednesday it's 50-50. Louisville is an attractive option, too. A football program on the rise. A perennial basketball contender with a high-profile coach that can't get enough of all this realignment talk.

And hey, look, here's the United States Senate getting involved. Yes, you, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who The New York Times reported Wednesday has lobbied for his home-state team of Louisville to join the Big 12 and slowed West Virginia's entry.

Yes, Congress -- with nothing much to do -- has become involved in conference realignment.

The new developments mean a few things. First, despite all of Commissioner John Marinatto's haughty proclamations of a 19-team (20? 22? 24?) league last week at the Big East basketball media day, the conference is still in deep trouble.

Second, the Big East could learn a thing or two from the Big 12. Somehow, someway, despite multiple threats to its existence, the conference survives. And with two members from another (admittedly fledgling) BCS conference basically begging for a move to the Big 12, it appears to be in at least solid shape.

Then again, West Virginia officials told The New York Times that their deal to move to the Big 12 was solid late Tuesday afternoon.

And third - just when you think conference realignment cannot get any crazier and more tiresome...

Some reports say it's a dogfight between West Virginia and Louisville for entry to the Big 12. Some say the Big 12 could accept both, or that Louisville's admittance is insurance in case the Mountaineers fall through. The holdup is Missouri, which his not finalized its anticipated move to the SEC from the Big 12.

On the first point, the only number Marinatto needs to worry about now is four. Maybe five. That's how many football schools will be left once one or both of West Virginia and Louisville inevitably leave the Big East.

Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Connecticut. Those are the lucky four. Of course, two of those members -- Rutgers and Connecticut -- did some begging of their own last month for entry to the ACC. That was after Syracuse and Pittsburgh bolted the Big East and started the rather quick crumble.

TCU, which hadn't even started playing in the conference, also left the Big East for the Big 12 in early October. In the flawed system that is the BCS, maybe its officials would be willing to allot a 25 percent chance for automatic berth in a BCS bowl to the Big East. Probably not.

The landscape in collegiate athletics continues to be a very fluid situation and we continue to be involved in discussions, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said in a statement Monday after news broke of West Virginia's potential move. We remain extremely confident that the result once the movement concludes will be very positive for Rutgers University.

There's another paragraph to the statement. It's longer than that one. But, like that one, it never contains the words Big East. Not even apart from each other.

This is the state of the Big East right now. The thread is constantly unraveling, and Marinatto is a commissioner that has been powerless to make it stop.

The conference lags on sending out invitations of its own. It's late to the dance, the shuffle of conference realignment. And the options on the table -- Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and Central Florida? All over the place, and not nearly as attractive as the schools they would be replacing.

For how quickly things can change, just look what happened a week ago. The scene at Big East media day: Rick Pitino, Louisville head coach, trashing Syracuse and Pittsburgh's moves to the ACC.

My problem is not them leaving, he said. My problem is you did it in 48 hours. Don't run away with a girl after one date 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.

There's an obvious irony to Pitino -- fresh off a scandal before last season complete with affairs and extortion -- saying that. And now, a week later, Louisville is openly willing to leave its conference of six years.

You can't blame them. In conference realignment, no relationship is stable.

b.logiurato@ibtimes.com