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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Information and Belief

I'm not sure what exactly those two words mean, together, in the legal sense, but West Virginia sure used them a lot.

ESPN posted the full text of WVU's lawsuit of the Big East, filed in West Virginia. The long and short of it is that the Big East, through the ineptness of its commissioner, had failed all good faith towards the fiduciary interests of its members (WVU, in this case) and such constitutes a breach of contract; as such, WVU should be let out of their contract early, instead of having to endure the 27 month waiting period to which they and all conference members agreed.

Despite my rant on the subject, West Virginia makes some good points in their suit. The thing is, what they sell is how the Big East was poor to them (and us all), and why it is in their best interest to leave. They do not make a compelling argument for why they should be allowed to leave by July 1, 2012, save for one: They apparently put forth a proposal for early exit with a fee, and the Big East took the fee. That said, there is no evidence to confirm or deny that this fee exceeded what they owed for resigning from the conference.

West Virginia's primary argument for their early departure is that athe currently-crumbling Big East isn't what they signed up for. The thing is, until the departure of Syracuse and Pitt--and there's no indication they are seeking a waiver of their timeline--and/or until the Big East loses its BCS AQ, which would be 2013 at the earliest, the conference is precisely what they signed up for, or at least what they've been competing in for the past six years. No significant change takes place at their desired departure date of 7/1/2012, and as such, there is no impetus for that date. In fact, a departure at that time, leaving the Big East at seven members and unable to compete as a BCS AQ conference, would be fiduciarily irresponsible to the other conference members beholden to them. It would make great grounds for a countersuit.

Interesting fact that I'm just going to stick here: In this round of conference expansion, the Big XII actually made the first extraregional step by inviting WVU. The Pac-12 stayed in their lane with two other western schools; the Big Ten stuck to the midwest with Nebraska; Pennsylvania and New York are certainly reasonable for the ACC; even the SEC's pickup of Texas A&M and alleged pending addition of Mizzou stuck to contiguous states. West Virginia is an exclave in the Big XII, roughly 900 miles from its closest conferencemates. Of course, I say this as a USF alum, so perhaps I should shut my mouth.

Moving forward...

The Big East apparently plans to start handing out bids: Boise State, Air Force, and Navy as football only members, and SMU, UCF, and Houston as full members. I don't know at this point who will accept, but I think I may be at the acceptance stage of grief with Boise State and Air Force. After all, as football only members, they are only going to have to travel to 4/5 out-of-time zone conference games a year--a hardship to be sure, but not as much as it would be for an all sports membership. They're no stranger to having to fly in the Mountain West conference, and hell, Air Force has their own planes. I've even made my peace with adding UCF, though I fear that as a conferencemate, they may actually beat us at some point. And selfishly, having plenty of business in Maryland, I like the potential of a Navy addition. With only five remaining football schools when the dust settles, there will be a need for a seventh pickup, if the goal is twelve teams and a conference championship; I'm rooting for ECU (again, selfishly) but think that either Temple or a Villanova call-up are more likely--again, not outside of my mid-Atlantic sphere of influence. And while I hold out little hope at this time for a conference that's had the sword of Damocles hanging over its head for some time now, I clearly would like to see this work.
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