This column should come with a warning label.
Why, you ask?
Because, when it comes to the issue that is burning up the Internet and becoming a daily topic on radio talk shows around the Mountain State - conference realignment - West Virginia University fans need to "be careful what you ask for".
The abrupt decisions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to join former Big East members Miami (Fla.), Boston College and Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the not-so-sudden move by Texas A&M to change conference affiliation from the Big 12 to the SEC have sent shockwaves throughout the college football world and especially in the Mountain State.
The biggest question posed revolves around WVU's stance as far as its allegiance to a Big East that is losing two of its biggest pieces, but is still holding onto the hope that TCU will not take this opportunity to replace the Aggies in the Big 12.
WVU presents a very attractive package to any conference wishing to take that next step toward enlarging itself toward 16 members - the number seen by most to be the ultimate size a football conference should reach.
The theories are as many as those surrounding the assassination of JFK. And, some of them are just as bizarre.
Director of Athletics Oliver Luck is catching as much grief as he is praise for his close-to-the-vest approach to the situation and Sunday's conference meeting added even more intrigue to the already tense negotiations surrounding WVU's possible departure to "greener fields".
If it is true that "no news is good news", then Mountaineer fans should be ecstatic. Instead the paranoia has grown to epic proportions to the point where residents are talking about what conference the Mountaineers should play in more than they are on any other subject, sports-related or not.
Sure, getting the opportunity to see an LSU, or a Florida, Georgia, Alabama or even a Steve Spurrier-coached South Carolina has its attractions. But, that has to be weighed with the reality of joining a conference where you could just as easily become the next Kentucky, Ole Miss or Mississippi State.
Jumping to the new-Big 12 or even joining the Panthers and Orange in the ACC has both positives and negatives. WVU has shown the ability to compete with the best in both of those leagues, but (you knew this was coming) would it be able to dominate those conferences like it has the Big East over the past decade?
When was the last time the Mountaineers have not been picked to finish among the top two football teams in the Big East/ Also, the men's and women's basketball programs have garnered national notoriety because of their success in the conference.
The doubts about the Big East stem from its perceived inability to do enough to protect its AQ (automatic qualifying) status. Several schools have been offered as possible replacements that lead one to wonder if it wouldn't be better to be the big dog in a small yard or just another runt in the litter.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org