If there is one thing that I have learned over the years covering sports in the Mountain State, it's that fans of West Virginia University have long memories and they rarely forget the times when someone, or something, has attempted to hurt their beloved Mountaineers.
That's why I have to believe all of the recent talk surrounding which team, or teams, would be leaving which conference to jump to another conference has had to dredge up memories fans of the old gold and blue would much rather keep deep, deep in the recesses of their minds.
Speaking with then-head coach Rich Rodriguez as well as athletics director Ed Pastilong and then-Big East commissioner Michael Tranghese, each did a credible job of attempting to convince fans that the conference would survive the defections of Miami (Fla.), Boston College and Virginia Tech.
And, to an extent, the 8-team football league has survived at a level higher than many expected. Partly because of the success of newcomers Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati and partly because of WVU's stunning victories in the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
Now, it is the Big 12 that has been targeted by the Pac-10 and Big 10 (actually 11), for extinction and, while it is easy to empathize with the traditionalists it is just as easy to side with the realists who have tried to prepare the public for the changes that were coming, but were dismissed by those who thought conference loyalties would win out in the end.
As WVU and its Big East members found out, the only loyalty that exists in college these days is with the almighty dollar. Conference championship games worth millions of television revenue as well as private television contracts are now generating the landscape that we now call college football.
Where will it all end?
I thought Nebraska athletics director Tom Osborne hit the nail on the head when he explained, "The Big 12 can survive one team leaving. It can survive two teams leaving. It can't survive six teams leaving."
And, by no means, think for one second that the Big East can survive a second "feeding frenzy" if the Big 10 (or is that 12 now?), elects to go after league members Syracuse and Rutgers-or was that Pittsburgh and Connecticut?
Another mass exodus by league football members and the Big East, as a Bowl Championship Series member, will cease to exist. WVU will have to sit back and hope that their beloved Mountaineers become the red-headed stepchild of either the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Southeastern Conference.
To blindly believe the the BCS would continue to offer one of its automatic berths to a conference made up of fewer than eight schools or to a Big East that would be minus its biggest television market would be a fatal mistake in judgment.
One has to hope that commisioner John M. Marinatto and his staff already have begun taking proactive, aggressive approaches to the real possibility that the Big East will be the next conference to feel the "exodus bug" and have a plan to deal with it.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com