New Day Rising

"It's FOR REAL, for reals!"

What will we do with ourselves now?

Following conference realignment has been practically a full-time occupation for myself and tens of thousands of other highly-neurotic WVU fans for the past several weeks. It’s been a daily routine of tweet checking and message board updating, scenario charting and frustration venting, long days spent reading tea leaves and making sense of conjecture. Half a football season has practically been lost in the shuffle. Errands have been put off. Pets have been neglected. Nerves have been shattered.

But now it is all over for us, save for the legal wrangling (go Ollie, go!). Our place has been secured. WVU is going to the Big 12. 

I know I’m cool with it. The Big East is a ship of foolish basketball schools. The football side of it is now a lousy parody of the conference we helped found. It would be in the best interests of all involved parties if the Providence Mafia just dissolved the football conference entirely, which would free the remaining gridiron schools to find proper homes and allow the pope-worshipping hoops schools to collect their damn exit fees and concentrate on being the basketball-centric conference they’ve always really been.

Since the blue-blooded, aristocratical, decedents of slave-owners who run the ACC want nothing to do with an egalitarian university from a democratically minded state, that conference was never really an option, despite the historical and geographic connections. So fuck ‘em. Clemson, FSU, and our old pals down in Blacksburg are the only ones in that conference that give a shit about football anyway.

Now the SEC would’ve been a blast. It seemed like the ADs and school presidents down there even had some serious interest in us (not to mention Sen. Manchin’s highly paid little buddy in Tuscaloosa), but apparently their commissioner and ESPN had more interest in channel surfers in St. Louis than in the Mighty Mountaineers. But it’s probably for the best that we didn’t end up there. Going to the SEC might have risen our passions a little too high, spread our resources a little too thin. People would’ve gotten hurt. Plus we would’ve had to deal with all that Lost Cause bullshit. *shudders*

With the Big East sinking fast and the ACC and SEC out of the picture, the Big 12 was our last hope for continued relevance on the national stage. We would’ve sold our souls to join, blackmailed T. Boone Pickens, run illegal guns and high-grade speed to Lubbock from Juarez, given Bevo a peppermint enema…. but it turns out all we had to do was gently remind them that we have a U.S. Senator named Rockefeller, and they welcomed us with open arms.

For taking us in during our hour of great duress, Big 12, we will be forever grateful. Thank you, thank you, a million times, THANK YOU!!! Now don’t get us wrong, Big 12; we will chase your women, drink your beer, and beat your teams more often than not on the gridiron AND the hardwood. But we will sing your praises. We will be loyal to a fault. We will serve you well.

We will also travel to your stadiums in wild, lustful packs. Personally, I feel way more motivated to plan road trips to most of your locales than I did to any of the Big East towns, even the one I live in. So hell, why don’t I just go ahead and say ‘howdy’ to each one of you personally and tell you all why I’ll come visit:

TEXAS – Ho-ho, this ain’t my first day, son: I know where to start! Everyone knows you call the shots ’round here, UT, and we know we wouldn’t be here without your approval. Just promise to be a more attentive mistress than Notre Dame, and less cruel than Penn St., and we’ll jump when you need us to jump.

I look forward to going to Austin to see WVU vs. Texas, but I really look forward to going to Austin to see Austin. I’ll be disappointed If it’s anything less than I’ve imagined….. Acid-fried artists, slackers, and vagabonds throwing back shinerbocks in glorious dive bars that feature nightly performances by Trail of Dead, Spoon, Black Angles, and Daniel Johnston… Sweet, voluptuous blonde ecology majors handing out vegan burritos with fresh guacamole to everyone who looks hungry, while humming Neko Case songs and galloping along in their thrift store sundresses….. Witty old cowboys singing songs about dead armadillos in parks filled with jovial Mexicans and wild-eyed gringos…. Late night encounters with minor cast members of Dazed and Confused and old-heads who claim to be the original bass player for MDC. 

I got a ‘thang for you, Austin, Texas, and we have yet to even meet!

OKLAHOMA- Don’t worry Sooners, we won’t be so arrogant as to brag about Curlen Beck and Tito Gonzoles: while Texas may have the money and the power, we know you guys have the program. Your history speaks for itself: 72 bowl wins, 48 conference titles, 24 national titles, which, unlike Pitt’s, are all legit! We know that the road to the BCS will go through Norman, and I look forward to our future battles. Plus I have some family in Oklahoma who I haven’t seen in ages, so I’m gonna go ahead and start looking for tickets.

Just one thing OU…… wait, you’re the University of Oklahoma, what the hell is with abbreviating that “OU?” Does it just sound better than “UO?”…… never mind, that wasn’t what I started to say…… right, listen: we will not tolerate the constant playing of “Boomer Sooner.” Everyone in college football hates that fucking song, but no one ever does anything about it. We will. Hell hath no furry like a hillbilly scorned… or annoyed.

OKLAHOMA STATE- Man, that barn-burner in the ’87 Sun Bowl is going to seem like a knuckle-dragging slobberknocker compared to the Holgorsen induced shootouts we’re about to witness! I’m nearly as anxious to see us play at T. Boon Pickens Field at T. Boon Pickens Stadium in the T. Boon Pickens Sports Complex next to the T. Boon Pickens International Airfield as I am to see us play your big brothers in Norman.

Kansas- From what I’ve heard, Lawrence is one helluva college town. Not quite the counter-culture mecca that is Austin, but still a great place to go record shopping and flirt with healthy Midwestern girls who are too smart to know they’re pretty. It’s also, of course, the greatest place this side of NYC to see a basketball game. I’m sure tickets for a game at the PHOG are hard to come by, so I might have to settle for football tickets just for the excuse to go to Kansas and see how much my giant hillbilly calves stick out.

Just one question, Jayhawks….. PHOG: Pretty Hot Over Grill? Phantom Hooligans Order Grits? Panting Hogs Open Gulags? Peeing Hustlers Oaken Gumbies? Or am I waaaaaay off?

Also, yinz spell Pittsburgh wrong.

Iowa State- Howdy Cyclones! I think you guys will represent everything we’ll come to love about the Big 12: friendly midwesterners who, win or lose, love their football program and will tailgate like champions. Also, even though you guys are considered the lousiest football program in the Big 12, your stadium has a larger capacity than almost every Big East school. My God, it’s great to be in a real football conference!

Anyway, my girlfriend has an old friend in Iowa City, and we both have some pals in Chicago, so maybe we can swing some sort of grand midwestern trip around the first WVU game at Ames? Some corn whiskey, corn salsa, corn tortilla, and corn-on-the-cob with corn butter would sweeten the deal, hint hint.

Kansas State- Hey now, have you Wildcats of Little Manhattan calmed down over us taking Bobby Huggins away from you? He was ours to begin with, you know… Aw, you guys are in good shape with Frank Martin. He’s basically Coach Huggs without the patience and restraint.

As for the gridiron, I’ve heard that you guys set up some tailgating in a sheep pasture. That’s fucking cool! Throw in some Michael Bishop autographs and you got yourselves a deal!

Texas Tech- From what I hear, your land is wild, your women are tough and beautiful, your tailgates are decadent, and your hooligans aren’t afraid to spread cow shit on an enemy’s bus. I think we’re going to get along juuuuust fine. If I can figure out a way to get to Lubbock without the aid of two camels, a six-shooter, and a friendly jackrabbit spirit-guide, I’ll be headin’ out to watch my Mounties play in West Texas. One warning: be careful about yelling “Guns Up!” around the Mountaineer.

TCU- Hey there Horned Frogs, thought you could avoid us, huh? Still having nightmares about Kevin White and Gary Mullen? Haha, I kid, I kid, it’s good to see you guys made it out alright! Thanks again for clearing the path through the cellar door, that was really helpful. As for coming down and visiting sometime, well, the “Metroplex” kinda sounds like hell-on-earth to me, the anti-Austin if you will, so how ’bouts I don’t but say I did? Cool, figured you guys would understand.

Baylor- Ok Baylor, I’m ready to be done with this rambling piece, so I’ll be brief. I don’t like you guys. Ken Starr? What the fuck? Was John Connolly’s corpse not available? And yes, Robert Griffin the Third is a helluva QB, but what’s with the lame-ass nickname? RG3? Fuck that!

Your President hates blowjobs and your quarterback sounds like a smart phone. Fuck you, Baylor! You smell like a Big East school.

Alright, I’m getting cranky, so it’s time to finish this. I look forward to getting to know our new conference brothers, except for Baylor, in the near future, hopefully next year as planned. The Big 12, despite the odd geography, maybe the best cultural fit for WVU. It’s way more passionate and down to earth than the snooty, aloof ACC, but without all the cut-throat recruiting and poverty-inducing AD budgets of the SEC.

It’s the best conference WVU has ever been a part of, and it’s a great relief to be (mostly) done with the daily anxieties of conference realignment. Now we just have to figure out what to do with all our new found free time.

Perhaps we can start paying a little more attention to the football season?

-James

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