It’s hard to please every West Virginia fans. There are always going to be positive and negative opinions about certain things with the Mountaineers athletic department.
One mixed review is always about West Virginia being in the Big 12 Conference. There have been many changes in the landscape of college sports and the Mountaineers have been dealing with the toughest transition in the nation.
With the Big East falling apart on the football side of things, West Virginia had to find a new home. There was no way to tell what the future held for the program. If the Mountaineers weren’t able to find a new conference, like Pitt, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami and Boston College did a few years before, they may have been left out in the cold.
West Virginia does have a strong pedigree and a national footprint, but it wouldn’t have been enough to survive as an independent team. That also means that West Virginia is better than those programs treading water in the mid-major conferences, like the new American Athletic Conference. It’s hard to face the facts, but West Virginia is an oddball in many way, that even goes beyond the realm of college athletics.
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West Virginia is the most northern of the southern states and the most southern of the northern states. Now, West Virginia is trying to fit in as the most eastern of the western states. The Mountaineers are in the Big 12 Conference and all fans should be thankful for that.
We are now in Year 6 of the Big 12 Experiment and it still doesn’t quite feel like home. There are many things to adjust to with the changing of conferences, and West Virginia has to deal with this new normal all the time. Travel, of course, is the biggest change. West Virginia is the only Big 12 school in the eastern time zone. The closes Big 12 opponent to WVU is Iowa State, which is 871 miles away, according to Map Quest.
One of the nicest aspects of the switch to the Big 12 Conference is the ability to fit in with other member schools. For that, West Virginia fans should be thankful. Throughout these past six seasons, West Virginia has been like the pilgrims and the Big 12 programs have been the indians, to put things into a sense of Thanksgiving. The Mountaineers have been able to find a commonplace with many of these programs, including ISU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
These kind of Big 12 programs, and West Virginia, are large public universities, known for sports, partying and a strong emphasis on learning. In those regards, West Virginia is right at home.
It may take another six years to fully feel immersed in the Big 12 atmosphere. West Virginia has a lot of work to do, but Dana Holgorsen and Bob Huggins, even women’s soccer head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown have all made great strides in the new conference.
West Virginia is in a good spot moving forward, and for that Mountaineer Nation should be thankful. Though it might take a Big 12 Championship in football and basketball to truly feel welcomed.