West Virginia not good company for Clemson fans

Clemson followers have done their best this week to ensure that University of Louisville fans are aware of the Tigers’ football traditions, as if that would somehow intimidate the Cardinal fans and, ultimately, the UofL players. Screenshot 2014-10-08 12.40.47

By now, UofL fans should be well aware that Clemson, according to Clemson fans, has the best defensive line in the conference. That freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson is among the most prolific passers in college football. That Clemson football fans are among the loudest anywhere. That they don’t know much about UofL football. They criticize Louisville’s schedule, the loss to Virginia, the predictable complaints of some opposing fans.

Some of them have even resorted to bringing up Bobby Petrino’s misadventures at Arkansas, one of the deepest valleys in his life. As if there are no limits as to how low they will go.

Others were offended that Petrino would dare say the Syracuse Carrier Dome was a loud place when asked about the noise level at Clemson. Resorting to the unprecedented step of backing a “Silent Out” during pre-game preparations, which should be interesting at a place that averages close to 80,000 fans per game.  But it’s obvious that it doesn’t take much to offend Clemson fans.

All the blather from the fans of a new conference foe is reminiscent of the reception UofL fans received from West Virginia fans during Louisville’s first season in the Big East Conference. Not a position in which any other fan base would want to be included.

The unintended consequences of the classless attacks is that they will serve to thicken the chip on the collective shoulder of UofL fans. Clemson may win the football game but the disruptive elements of the fan base will always be a burden.

Meet Clemson Tom, for example.

Charlie Strong brings it home

The Big East Conference football title is back where it belongs, a share of it anyway. Charlie Strong’s troops were warmly welcomed back to Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center Friday. Gotta pull for anyone playing against West Virginia, Cincinnati and Rutgers from here on out. The last thing we want is a comeback-kids story from Cincinnati. Leave no doubt. (Hat tip to Cardinal Laws for the video.)

West Virginia may be hanging around for a while

What was supposed to be good news for Missouri and West Virginia is accompanied by doubt that either will be moving into new conferences soon.

Missouri has finally received an official invitation to the Southeastern Conference and has accepted.

UM may not be allowed to participate next season, however, because the SEC wants West Virginia’s legal entanglements with the Big East Conference to be resolved first.

West Virginia wanted in the Big 12 so badly that it promised the Big 12 would leave the Big East immediately by filing a lawsuit. May have been the maneuver that put WVU ahead of the University of Louisville in the selection process. A bold move on WVU’s part but one the school may regret.

The Mountaineers followed through on their promise, accusing the Big East of mismanagement. The Big East, in return, filed a counter suit to prevent WVU from leaving. A virtual field day for numerous law firms lusting for millions of dollars to be had in the conference realignment litigation minefield.

The legal precedents are rare and the issues are complex, affecting not only West Virginia but all the schools in the Big East.  Other members will be drawn into the cases, as will their separate legal counsel. Court dates will be scheduled, court dates will be postponed, injunctions will be issued, they will be rescinded, judges will be make rulings, only to be overturned on appeal. Has all the makings of a legal quagmire.

The fact that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are hanging around for at least two more seasons would appear to support the Big East’s case against West Virginia. Time will tell whether they considered similar lawsuits and whether the ACC would have been supportive. We think not. Too much ill will created by an additional raid on the conference, and the odds of winning were remote.

If the SEC means what it says, we fully expect another Big East showdown between Louisville and West Virginia next season at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Missouri may get off the dime

The University of Missouri appears about ready to shed the shackles of inertia, indecisiveness and resistance to change that brought the forces of conference realignment to a crawl for a couple of weeks.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times  reports that the UM Board of Curators will likely approve an application to join the Southeastern Conference later this week. If they do follow through, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they didn’t, the Big 12 Conference would be down to nine members.

Louisville is said to be first in line, but that depends heavily on how prone Brigham Young is to emulating Notre Dame’s bigger-than-thou hubris at any given point in time. They’re negotiating, they’re not negotiating, the talks have gone awry, they’re close to an agreement. Can’t anyone make a clear-cut decision these days?

The BYU concern goes away if the Big 12 decides to get back to 12 members. But then there’s that indecisiveness again, Texas wants 10, Texas is okay with 12. Texas wants this, Texas wants that. You know how it goes. The way conference realignment has gone thus far, don’t be surprised if BYU goes first.

That would leave Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati to pick from if the conference goes to 12.

The UC fan base embarrassed itself last weekend. A team with a 4-1 record only able to attract 40,000 people to a game with an arch-rival in a 65,000-seat stadium. Homecoming. Beautiful fall weather. Between 5,000 and 10,000 of those fans from Louisville. Don’t think someone from the Big 12 didn’t notice.

Conference expansion in a Land of Make Believe

Once upon a time the college football landscape in America made sense. Athletic conferences consisted largely of universities within easily identifiable geographic boundaries or regions.

Lots of natural rivalries, relatively easy weekend trips for games on the road.

Contrast those days with some of the conference expansion or realignment scenarios currently being offered. Among them Louisville and/or Pittsburgh to the Big 12, Louisville or Clemson to the SEC, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the PAC12, Missouri to the SEC, the PAC 12 or the Big East. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State to the Big East. There’s a new rumor every day, the latest being West Virginia as a leading SEC candidate.

The only thing some of the schools have in common is they play football.

The Big Ten, the conference that started it all, has been unusually quiet since Nebraska was added as the 12th member. The inaction won’t last long, not with Jim Delaney as commissioner, the one who suggested Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh might fit before dousing them with ice water. Any day now the Big Ten will send a signal that it’s not done, further scrambling the conference expansion picture.

TV money is obviously the driving force behind the expansion mania. But also involved are the massive egos of the jocks, the kingpins running the conferences, each trying to outdo the other. Just a matter of time before they decide they’re bigger than the NCAA and form their own governing body.

In the process of realigning the conferences and whatever follows, they may wind up inflicting serious damage on college athletics, especially on the non-revenue programs. It will be occurring at a time when the integrity of many programs are being exposed.

Natural rivalries are threatened, economies are exaggerated, and tradition is trivialized, not to mention the effects of so much travel on athletes and their studies. And, as in any economic endeavor, the days of escalating television revenues won’t last forever.