Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas gave a blistering interview to the Charleston Gazette and in his little fit of rage over uncertainty regarding West Virginia’s ability to get out of the Big East and play football in his league, got his facts screwed up.
Neinas would have you believe that the Big East is acting like spoiled brats in keeping West Virginia in their conference for the 27-month period stipulated by Big East rules. This is false. The litigation between the Big East and the breakaway Mountaineers isn’t about keeping the school in the league at all. It’s about a dispute over how and when the school can leave. The two parties have agreed to enter nonbinding arbitration and there are legitimate hopes that a settlement can be reached.
Neinas would also have you believe that the SEC “poached” his conference by inviting Missouri to join Texas A&M, a school that had already made the move and laid the legal groundwork for Mizzou to follow. But published documents show that it was Texas A&M and Mizzou that approached Mike Slive, not the other way around. The SEC didn’t have to expand. It was just fine at 12 members until Texas A&M quietly began exploring realignment. The SEC was just fine at 13 members too, until Mizzou quietly began exploring the possibility of following the Aggies. Slive wasn’t hunting on posted ground, as Neinas’ comments suggest.
Finally, Neinas would have you believe that the Big 12 is in the situation that it finds itself in because Missouri was “selfish.” That’s the biggest laugher of Neinas’ comments. The Big 12 is where it is today because the University of Texas made a business decision that suits the Longhorn program’s business interests and stuck to their guns when the other schools in the conference realized that what was good for Texas wasn’t necessarily good for the Big 12 as a whole. In other words, as my friend BanditRef puts it on Twitter, “Texas made it clear it was a business, Mizzou made a business decision.”
We understand that the Big 12 is nervous. They are contractually obligated to release the 2012 schedule on February 1, and they plan to include West Virginia in the rotation. There is legitimate concern over the uncertainty surrounding the Mountaineers ability to compete in the league next year. Millions of dollars are at stake, as are the schedules of the other teams in the league.
But the Big 12’s problems are problems of their own making.