Three Teams West Virginia Would Love to Add to the Big 12

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With the landscape of college sports ever shifting, it can be hard to keep track of which program is headed to which conference, and just who your favorite team is going to have to play to earn a league title, which nowadays can earn you an automatic berth to the soon-to-debut 12-team College Football Playoff.

In that process, a lot of traditional rivalries faded and, in some cases, reemerged. In addition, regionality has been sacrificed for high-earning TV markets and coast-to-coast competition. And now, the traditional brands we know and love in terms of collegiate athletic conferences look a lot different,

West Virginia used to share the Big East with traditional regional rivals such as Pitt, Rutgers, and Syracuse, with the champion earning their bid to a BCS Bowl in football -- the latter a system which has since been swept into the dustbin of history. When they joined the Big 12 as their former conference died, they found new prominent national opponents on the schedule such as Oklahoma and Texas, both of which now prepare to join the SEC this fall. 

As football is the main revenue-driving college sport and the future seems prime for more change, it's almost certain conference realignment will undergo another round or two. Here are three different programs that West Virginia would surely love to add to the Big 12 as future expansion takes hold.


Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl - Pittsburgh v UCLA
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Known as The Backyard Brawl, the rivalry began in 1895 and is among the oldest and most intense in college football. From the first college football radio broadcast in history in 1921 to a heartbreaking WVU loss that knocked the Mountaineers from national championship contention in the 100th edition of the rivalry in 2007, the series is littered with historic college football moments.

The two shared a conference during the 1990s and 2000s in the Big East, but the conference imploded in the early 2010s with Pitt headed to the ACC and WVU to the Big 12 -- the series underwent a hiatus which broke a streak of 68 consecutive meetings. The series was renewed in 2022, with annual meetings between 2022-2025 and 2029-2032 planned. 

If Pitt joined the Big 12, the Brawl would become the oldest rivalry amongst conference schools, and fourth in number of games played in a conference series behind Farmageddon (Iowa State-Kansas State), The Revivalry (TCU-Baylor), and the Sunflower Showdown (Kansas-Kansas State).

Virginia Tech

East Carolina v Virginia Tech
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One of WVU’s other strongest rivalries is with Virginia Tech, which is dubbed in football as The Battle For the Black Diamond Trophy. The trophy is aptly named for Appalachia’s coal mining heritage (with black diamond being a slang term for coal), as vast coal seams make up much of the rural, mountainous region between Morgantown and Blacksburg.

The two teams first met over 100 years ago in 1912, and last met in 2022, with annual meetings from 1973-2005 setting the tone for the rivalry to be a big deal in the eyes of many Mountaineer fans spanning from Gen Z to the Baby Boomers in age. 

The series died off in the mid-200s and 2010s as the Hokies migrated to the ACC while WVU stayed in the Big East and eventually moved to the Big 12. When the series was renewed for the 2021-2022 seasons, then-WVU athletic director Oliver Luck and then-Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer shared the sentiment that “"it just made sense."

Now, as the ACC (which Pitt also still calls home) seems as if things could implode at any moment, Virginia Tech would make sense as a conference foe. With WVU having long been an outlier geographically in conference, the addition of UCF and Cincinnati last year gave the conference an eastern contingent. Adding Virginia Tech (and Pitt) would bring the conference to five programs in the Eastern time zone and could open up an opportunity to divide the conference into smaller pods or divisions that make travel easier. 


2023 ACC Championship - Louisville v Florida State
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One more regional opponent that could easily slide into the mix of a more eastern-centered section on the Big 12 would be Louisville. For WVU, there is some history with the Cardinals -- they played numerous times in the 1980s and 1990s, and the the two spent further time in the mid-2000s battling it out as conference opponents in numerous highly competitive Big East matchups.

Louisville also shares a storied rivalry with Cincinnati, giving another reason to add Louisville to the conference now that the Bearcats joined last season. They also share history in a conference with the two other suggested programs on this list, Pitt and Virginia Tech.