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Should WVU Stay in the New Big 12 or Pursue the ACC?

Examining what the Mountaineers should do for their future conference membership.

The Big 12 Conference is on the verge of adding four new members in BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston. This comes after the league lost powerhouse brands Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC earlier this summer. All four schools have officially applied for membership and Big 12 presidents are set to vote them in on Friday, per multiple reports.

A couple of weeks ago, the Big 12 appeared to be doomed. There wasn't much hope for the league and there were even some rumors that the American Athletic Conference, which is where UCF, Cincy, and Houston are coming from, would poach the Big 12. Instead, it's the other way around.

Does this make the Big 12 one of the top conferences? No, but it will allow them to keep their status as a Power Five league. It lacks the big-time brand that every other P5 conference has multiple of but from top to bottom, it's a very competitive group of schools. 

In football, the four new members have historically had great programs and bring in a tradition of winning football. This will help aid the sting of Kansas' yearly struggles. Honestly, Kansas would probably be the only team that you would expect to not be competitive. Baylor, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia are all going to be in the mix for a conference title every now and then. Texas Tech may be the only one of that group that could have more struggles than success but they're capable. 

Turning our attention to the hardwood, man oh man, this would be a dandy of a basketball conference. I could make the argument that this would be the top basketball league in the nation. You have Kansas as the powerhouse name, Baylor who just won the national title, West Virginia who is consistently a top 25 team, Iowa State and Oklahoma State who have both had some really good years, Texas Tech who played in the national title just two years ago - then you add Houston, Cincinnati, and BYU's success on top of that, yeah, that's a grown man's league. 

Although this is all good news for the Big 12, this doesn't mean that West Virginia won't still pursue ACC membership. If athletic director Shane Lyons believes the ACC gives them better stability long-term, they will give Jim Phillips a call and make their push. As fun as the new Big 12 would be, fans would much rather have the opportunity to join the ACC and restore those yearly rivalries with Pitt, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and so on. Playing Cincinnati is cool and all but let's be honest, that's not much of a rivalry. Joining the ACC will also benefit the Mountaineers when it comes to traveling for road contests and even on the recruiting trail. Flat out, some kids just don't want to travel halfway across the country to play a conference game. Can you blame them? 

Some would say sticking in the new Big 12 would give you an easier path to a conference championship. I don't necessarily buy that. In football, you have really one team to worry about - Clemson. After that, the ACC doesn't have many other threats. The Big 12 would have four to five schools that could win it in any given year and the long-distance traveling could catch up to WVU, as it normally does. 

If the ACC is interested in expanding, West Virginia needs to do everything it can to get in. If they try and the ACC just won't budge, then you're still in a very respectable Big 12 and remain in a good situation. A month ago, it felt like the Mountaineers had to get into the ACC. It may be the preferred choice of many but it's not the end of the world if they have to remain in the Big 12. 

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