- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck has been outspoken in his reasons why West Virginia had to get out of the Big East.
He expounded on his comments in a detailed interview with Big 12 blogger David Ubben, shedding more light on the state of the league during expansion mania last fall.
Perhaps most striking was the utter lack of foresight in the league after Pitt, Syracuse and TCU all decided to leave:
"I think it was pretty obvious that the league was going to struggle. We hadn’t added a new member since 2005. Sitting in these AD meetings, there was no expansion committee to speak of," Luck said. "You’re down to five members with no clear-cut expansion candidates, with no activity, so at that point, I think people -- and not just me -- realized that we needed to look around and make sure first and foremost that we were going to be in a conference that maintained high standards and high-quality opponents."
No expansion committee to speak of? That just points to the mismanagement of the entire operation -- especially since the Big East was supposed to be considering future expansion options after adding TCU in 2010. Complaints about the way the league has handled expansion are nothing new, and Luck obviously has his own agenda. He called the Big East a sinking ship in a previous interview.
But he was still a member of the Big East after the raid of last fall, and was obviously involved in meetings to figure out what to do. I think it is safe to say that every athletic director with a football team in the league was frustrated with the way the league handled the losses of three key teams. Everybody certainly put calls out to try and get out.
As Ubben writes:
The Big 12 needed a 10th member, both to fill its schedule and television contract.
West Virginia looked around and saw Rutgers as the only original member of the Big East when the Mountaineers joined in 1991.
"We didn’t really leave the Big East. It left us," Luck said. "We had joined a conference that had certain schools like Virginia Tech, and now we were finding ourselves with only one original member.
"The conference had fundamentally changed."
Whether you like or dislike Luck, it is hard to argue with his final point. The league has fundamentally changed. Is it on the outside looking in now that it is mostly comprised of schools that came from non-automatic qualifying conferences? That is up for debate. But I do think his insider's view on the Big East in the aftermath of realignment is worth noting.