Watch CBS News

The Phillips File- WVU Has Last Laugh On Big East, Pitt

Can you hear that laughter?  It's coming from Morgantown.  That's the sound of a giddy, Mountaineer nation having a good chuckle at the expense of its rival and soon to be former conference it was affiliated with for so long.

I can't blame West Virginia fans if they are besides themselves today knowing that come July 1st, they will be playing in the Big 12.  Good for them and good for Oliver Luck displaying progressive leadership when things began to unravel last fall as Pitt & Syracuse announced they would leave the Big East.

Instead of whining and crying about it, Luck set out to make sure his school would not be left in the dust.  While Pitt & Syracuse sat around patting themselves on the back for sticking it to a Conference they swore allegiance to back when the ACC took Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College off their hands, it was Luck and WVU who would have the last laugh.

Leaders act when pressed into action.  They don't sit around and make excuses. They don't use corporate double-speak when asked tough questions.  They don't watch what happens around them, only to make moves later based on what they see.  Leaders roll up their sleeves, shut the door and go to work.

Luck reached out to his contacts in the Big 12 and got the ball rolling quickly after the ACC announcement.  Perhaps talks had been in the process already when Pitt & Syracuse announced their move to the ACC, but I doubt it.  His ability to assure the Big 12 that WVU would be ready to play in 2012-2013 was enough to get a bid over Louisville, who was also looking to bolt the Big East at that point.

With a clear plan in mind and the backing and support of the University's top brass, along with promises from the Big 12 leaders, Luck set out to use the legal system as a way of forcing the Big East to make a deal.

You can argue all you want about the money that will change hands, but in the long run, it's just pocket change to these high rollers.  $20 million is a lot of money, but that can be made up in new TV contracts, marketing deals and other revenue streams.

And all the while, as Pitt & Syracuse sit around with their hands in their pockets, just waiting for the day they too can join their new friends in a new sandbox, they must continue to play in what has become the laughingstock of college football conferences.

Big East football is now a complete joke.  It has lost its most successful program.   That's right, West Virginia over the past decade has had more success than any surviving member of the laughingstock Big Least.  More than Pitt, Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati combined.

I wish I could have been in the Luxury Suite that Luck and the WVU brass shared during its 70-33 destruction of ACC Chump Clemson back on January 4th at the Orange Bowl (but not played in the Orange Bowl) near Miami.  I can just hear the laughter.

For as much as people make fun of the Big East and it's football follies, the ACC can't be too far behind.  Their history in the BCS isn't much better to tell the truth.  Clemson didn't do the conference any favors with how they played.  It was quite embarrassing.

Pitt AD Steve Pederson says that his University will not spend the kind of money to get out of its contract early with the Big East like West Virginia has.  Pederson feels that $5 million is more than fair, yet he hopes a deal can be struck that allows Pitt & Syracuse to get out of the Big East early.

After the $20 million dollar windfall the Big Least just fell into, why on earth would they settle for less?

What did we say earlier.  Leaders are proactive.  They get things done by taking action.  Not by sitting around watching others act and playing the 'what if' game.

Be proud Mountaineer fans that you have great leadership.  The payoff to it will come in the form of teams like Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and Baylor coming to face you instead of the also-ran programs the Big Least has offered over the past decade.

Make all the jokes you want about dirt roads, poor education and bad teeth you want, but WVU pulled the rug from under everybody and got what it wanted now and that was out of the Big Least immediately.

John Phillips is the author of this article and a former secret member of the Galactic Empire.  Since he no longer chases down Jedi across the Clemente Bridge, he now spends his days anchoring sports updates and hosting weekend talk-shows on 93.7 The Fan.  Follow JP on Twitter at

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.