Well, here we sit waiting. And waiting.
More than a year now since the University of Louisville was first mentioned as a possible candidate for Big 12 Conference membership. One day U of L seems to be a shoo-in, the next day an untouchable. Sometimes the in and out occurs several times during a day. So much doublespeak, so many falsehoods, leaks, red herrings and rumors.
In fact, the conference realignment process often seems more driven by anonymous posters on fan message boards than the professionals overseeing the conferences.
Passed over for West Virginia, with a good football program, a fair basketball program and not much else. Presumably because UofL wouldn’t dump on the Big East Conference to get to the Big 12.
Now Louisville seems to falling behind, per all the leaks and rumors. This time to Florida State and any other team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that wants to get out of there. Clemson, even. A program that won a national football championship 30 years ago but is largely irrelevant in any other sport. Who else? Well, there’s Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, maybe even Maryland.
One thing UofL seems to lack, and it’s a huge impediment in a sport driven by stereotypes, is much of a football tradition. The future with Charlie Strong seems largely irrelevant in the cliques of academicians, TV network executives and former jocks making the decisions about Big 12 expansion. A larger TV market might be helpful but Louisville is among the top 50 and that doesn’t seem to be helping much.
A UofL athletic program so deserving still waiting, among the most financially successful in college athletics, winning conference championships, competing at the highest levels in basketball and a constant presence in NCAA tournaments in Olympic sports, a football program clearly on the rise, with athletic facilities that are among the newest, the largest and of the highest quality, and a growing fan base that is among the most devoted in the country.
The Big 12 knows what Louisville can bring to the conference, that’s why they keep stringing UofL along. But all the foot dragging, procrastination, and indecision has more to do with outdated stereotypes than reality. The old guard is territorial, slow to accept change, and overly cautious, even when opportunity is staring it in the face.
There is no grand plan involving logic or common sense. So we will continue to wait, unlikely to learn our fate until people in the inner circles are backed into a position where they are forced to actually make decisions. There will be a mad rush and anything can happen, contradicting everything that has happened up to that point.
Just wait and see.