I wonder how Oliver Luck must be feeling right now. He certainly picked a fascinating time to return to college athletics.
Luck was formally introduced as West Virginia's new athletic director Monday at a time where the college sports landscape seemed to be changing by the minute. Like all Big East teams, West Virginia is keeping close tabs on what happens within its league and elsewhere, as it tries to position itself for long-term success.
It's no surprise that the first question Luck fielded at his news conference had to do with everyone's favorite topic: realignment.
"In times of uncertainty, there's often times of opportunity," Luck said. "Our location along the Eastern seaboard is a real plus. We've had the most-watched Thursday night ESPN game, the most-watched Friday night ESPN game. Those aren't folks just within our state boundary; that's across the country, so obviously, people care about Mountaineer football, and this conference realignment, by and large, is being driven by football."
Luck praised the Big East, calling it "by far the best basketball conference" and recognizing the league's "very strong" football teams, but he's not closing the door on anything at this point. Because he can't.
"It's safe to say we'd love to see the status quo continue," Luck said, "but like any other university, you need to be smart and strategic, try to figure out, 'If X, Y, and Z happen, what are the alternatives?' ... It's hard to say what the University of Texas may do or may not do. I'd love to see them try to rebuild the Big 12 and maintain that status, but it's difficult to say."
West Virginia and the rest of the Big East would benefit from the Big 12 staying together and minimal amount of further expansion taking place. I'm told the Big Ten has no other imminent moves after adding Nebraska, though the league continues to evaluate some Big East options, including Rutgers.