By Brian Murphy
After a lull in conference realignment news, as the college football world waited on Missouri, schools are on the move again.
When — and it seems to be no longer a matter of if, but when — Missouri leaves for the SEC, West Virginia will replace the Tigers in the Big 12.
The New York Times is reporting that West Virgina has already applied and been accepted to the Big 12.
CBS Sports.com is reporting that West Virginia will be announced by the Big 12 within 24 to 48 hours of Missouri leaving. The report also says that Boise State and Air Force — potential targets of the Big East — are pushing for the Big East to add BYU as part of a Western Division. Further it says Boise State officials met with Big East officials in D.C. on Sunday. Boise State President Bob Kustra was in D.C. over the weekend and took part in the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics panel Monday.
USA Today is reporting that West Virginia will only have to pay a $5 million exit fee because the Big East's exit fee increase has not gone into effect yet since no teams have joined league.
Given the upheaval in the Big East, which now has just five football-playing members moving forward (Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida), the commissioners of the Mountain West and Conference USA are planning to pitch a merger with the Big East to the league on Wednesday, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
"According to a document obtained by the Review-Journal, UNLV could be in a division that also includes Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State, UNR and Utah State, with San Jose State a possibility if the conference includes 32 teams rather than 28.
"We would figure out some way -- four divisions of seven teams each, a playoff and then a conference championship game -- to come up with the (automatic qualifier)," UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said. "Craig and Britton are going into this meeting in New York with one thing in mind, to make this happen with the Big East."
Here is the Associated Press story:
AP Source: Big 12 approves WVU to replace Missouri
By Ralph D. Russo
AP College Football Writer
The Big 12 has approved bringing in West Virginia to replace Missouri when the Tigers complete their move to the Southeastern Conference, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the school nor the Big 12 had announced that its board of directors unanimously approved inviting West Virginia when Missouri's spot comes open.
The move would allow the Big 12 to maintain 10 members and is another blow to the embattled Big East, which already has lost two members and one member-to-be in the last six weeks.
The Big East is trying to reconfigure as a 12-team football league and has been courting Boise State, Navy and Air Force as football-only members and Central Florida, SMU and Houston for all sports. Commissioner John Marinatto met with officials from some of those schools Sunday in Washington.
Since there is no timetable for Missouri to complete its expected departure from the Big 12 — and the league's board of directors announced that it expressed "a strong desire" for Missouri to stay during a Monday meeting — there is no timetable for West Virginia to receive a formal invitation, the person said.
But the school will accept an invitation once it is offered, the person said.
Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas has already said he expects Missouri to compete in the Big 12 in 2012, but all signs indicate Missouri is leaving and now the conference is prepared for that.
On Friday, the Missouri Board of Curators gave Chancellor Brady Deaton the authority to move the school out of the Big 12. The school has been considering a move to the SEC, where it would become that conference's 14th member and join Texas A&M, which made its move from the Big 12 official earlier this month.
The SEC has not publicly acknowledged interest in Missouri and Commissioner Mike Slive has said his conference was making plans to have 13 members next season, but there are scheduling problems — especially in football — that come with that number.
West Virginia has been the Big East's most successful football program since the league lost Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004 and '05. The Mountaineers have been to a bowl game every season since and won two BCS games.
Without West Virginia, only one of the original eight schools that made up the Big East's football conference when it began in 1991 will remain: Rutgers.
Last month, Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they were leaving the Big East for the ACC, and earlier this month TCU reneged on its plans to join the Big East in 2012 to instead go to the Big 12.
Marinatto has said he plans to make Pitt and Syracuse abide by the league's bylaws and stay in the Big East for the next two years. The Big East's 27-month notification will likely be a hurdle for West Virginia to clear on its way to the Big 12.
TCU only must pay the league's $5 million exit fee.
The Big East presidents voted last week to double that fee to $10 million if the league added either Navy or Air Force, but the conference has not formally invited any new members yet.
It's unclear how the loss of West Virginia will affect the Big East's expansion plans. The Big East made protecting its status as a BCS automatic qualifying conference its expansion priority, and adding Boise State's high successful football program to the conference with West Virginia had league officials optimistic.
Boise State President Bob Kustra has said that getting into conference with an automatic bid to the BCS was one of his top priorities, but the stability of the Big East was a concern. Boise State is in its first season in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force also plays in the MWC. Navy is an independent in football.
To replace West Virginia, the Big East could turn to Temple, which was also being considered before the conference decided to try to add the two Texas schools from Conference USA.
You can follow Murph's Turf on Twitter.
You can find links to stories, photos and video by being a fan of Brian Murphy on Facebook.