Louisville vs West Virginia: The Latest and Greatest Battle.
Let’s clear the air on something. Louisville only has four real rivals. Rutgers makes for some good football games, but mostly between uncompetitive teams. Syracuse would make a nice rivalry if they ever beat us in anything ever. Memphis would have been high on this list eight years ago, but those days are gone. I hate Central Florida as much as the next guy, but I don’t think we’ve ever played them. Ever. Louisville has four rivals. In no particular order, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Marquette, and West Virginia.
Yes, I’m putting West Virginia in that class. It’s a rivalry thats completely non-competitive on the football field, and never given the credit it deserves on the basketball court, so its fitting that the most highly publicized battle between the two teams is taking place off the playing field.
By now everyone has heard. Louisville was the no brainer pick to replace Missouri in the Big 12. Then, suddenly, West Virginia appeared to be pulling ahead. Then, Tuesday afternoon, West Virginia was announced as the newest member of the Big 12. Louisville fans mourned, Rick Pitino made his road map to saving the Big East, and we all went to bed hoping that this might at least Bring Chicken to the Bucket.
And then we woke up. And West Virginia wasn’t in the Big 12 anymore. Louisville was back in the mix, with reports saying it was a 50-50 race to the Big 12. Tom Jurich and Mitch McConnel of all people were putting the full court pressure on conference realignment, actually trying to get something done. Speaking of full court press, anyone else notice that Pitino is still talking about who the Big East need to add? Even though he was the very first person to say West Virginia wasn’t a done deal. Does he own a television?
Now the Big 12 is split. And not just amongst the higher ups. Texas wants West Virginia. Oklahoma and Texas Tech want Louisville. No other schools’ opinions matter. Louisville has an airport and West Virginia has a wrestling team. Seriously, these are issues being taken into consideration.
Conference realignment comes down to one thing and one thing and one thing only. Football. And the money your football team brings in. Why? Because football brings in the most money. Or at least, it should. Louisville basketball is the 19th most profitable athletic program in the nation. Numbers 1-18 are all football teams. Louisville’s basketball team makes more money than every football team in the Pac 12, ACC, and Big East, including our own. Also included in that is West Virginia. I know these numbers don’t translate to guaranteed success on the court or field, but all these conferences care about is money. And Louisville basketball is just a better option that West Virginia football. Yes, Louisville football is in a terrible state right now. They’re headed in the right direction, but still a long way away. But if West Virginia had the superior football program that they think they do, don’t you think they would win the Big East every once in a while? They haven’t won it since 2007. And since Louisville joined the league in 2005, WVU has only won the conference twice. Thats one more than Louisville. And the same amount as Cincinnati, one of those Conference USA schools that West Virginia fans would love to tell don’t compete with the big boys. Oh yeah and Morgantown? Nowhere near anything in the Big 12. Nowhere near anything as a matter of fact.
Clearly, there’s only one solution here.
Invite them both.
I’m no math major, but shouldn’t the Big 12 have…12 teams? You invite Louisville and West Virginia, two schools that the conference obviously wants, to get to 11 schools, and let Cincinnati, BYU, Houston, and SMU duke it out for number 12 (Best part of that scenario? Bring Chicken to the Bucket).
At this point, it doesn’t seem right that one of these programs might get left out of the musical chairs that is conference realignment. They are too good of schools. And the rivalry is too good to lose. This may be no Pittsnogle, Elite 8, Siva’s miracle layup, or Preston’s full court foul. And it may be no 3 OT Petrino meltdown, or Blackout game 3 vs 5 matchup. But this is the Showdown between Louisville and West Virginia that will be most remembered as it will shape these programs’ futures for a long time to come. I hope they both get in. But I really hope one of them gets in.
For those of you who don’t realize what were potentially losing in West Virginia, let me try to remind you. Louisville-West Virginia has given us some of the best photos around over the years. Here’s my highlight reel.
And last but not least, not only the best picture Louisville-West Virginia has ever given us, but the best picture anyone has ever given us: Sunny Will Stein.
What a way to go out. Go Louisville. Go Big 12. Texas Forever.