Report: West Virginia Interested in ACC if Departing Big 12

Louisville's brief but spirited rivalry with West Virginia could make a comeback via conference realignment.
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(Photo of Louisville and West Virginia Players via Seedy K Sports)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the news of Texas and Oklahoma’s intended departure from the Big 12 to join the SEC, the collegiate athletics landscape is careening towards a whirlwind round of conference realignment. The Big 12 has entertained merging with the PAC-12, several Big 12 schools have already had preliminary talks with other conferences, and the AAC is hellbent on poaching the Big 12’s leftovers.

It's unknown how this will directly effect the University of Louisville, if at all, but it could revive one of the Cardinals' fiercest rivalries from the mid 2000's and into the early 2010's.

According to a report from The Athletic, should West Virginia opt to leave the Big 12, their "preferred destination" for a new home is the ACC, if indeed the interest is reciprocated from the league.

This wouldn't be the first time the Mountaineers attempted to join the ACC. They attempted to do so in 2011 in an effort to follow Syracuse and Pitt, but that move was shot down. WVU ultimately was accepted into the Big 12, despite the lack of a geographical fit.

The Cardinals and Mountaineers were conference counterparts from 2005 to 2013, a period of just nine years, but the geographical proximity helped produce one of the more spirited college rivalries in the eastern United States during that span.

It also hosted two of the more significant Louisville athletic events in the last 25 years. Their 2006 matchup at Cardinal Stadium, which ended with a 44-34 win for No. 5 Louisville over No. 3 West Virginia, is generally regarded as one of the top football games in program history.

Over on the hardwood, the No. 4 seeded Cardinals overcame a 19-point deficit to the No. 7 seeded Mountaineers, winning the 2005 Albuquerque Regional Final 93-85 in overtime to advance to their first Final Four since 1986.

The move would also make sense for West Virginia. It would see a revival of the Backyard Brawl rivalry with Pitt, as well as their rivalry with Virginia Tech. Geographically speaking, it works out much better than in the Big 12.

Considering that current Clemson president Jim Clements previously held the same role at WVU, and the current Mountaineers AD Shane Lyons has also spent a decade as the ACC's associate commissioner, one can assume there is some interest within the league as well. Time will tell if West Virginia opts to stick it out with the Big 12, or decide to jump ship.

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