Here are a few notes on key subjects from Friday night’s conference call with Chuck Neinas, the Big 12 interim commissioner, West Virginia AD Oliver Luck and President James Clements that did not make our Saturday story.
Update: WVU will hold a 2:30 p.m. "welcome reception" tomorrow (Tuesday) on campus. Attending: Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas, Deputy Commissioner Tim Weiser, Associate Commissioner for Communications Bob Burda, WVU President James P. Clements and Athletic Director Oliver Luck.
1. The Morgantown airport issue
In the days leading up to Friday’s final announcement, there were reports that some Big 12 folks – including Oklahoma State Booster T. Boone Pickens, a billionaire oilman - and Texas Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville thought Morgantown was too isolated and hard to get in and out of. The town's 5,000 foot runway, that will be expanded to 7,200 feet, came into focus.
Neinas was asked if the airport was a real concern?
Neinas: “Certainly. But I think that’s pretty well clarified. To a degree I think that’s been blown out of proportion. Correct me gentlemen but you can land in Clarksburg which is less than 45 miles away? …That might be a little blown out of proportion.”
2. The future of the Backyard Brawl
Since the minute Pitt and Syracuse announced plans to leave for the ACC, there have been fears college football fans would lose another one of the game’s best rivalries.
Luck was asked about plans to continue the rivalry.Luck: “I’ve not had any discussions with my counterpart at the University of Pittsburgh. I think at some point we’ll sit down. There’s a lot that’s moving right now. At some point we’ll sit down and discuss the future with Pitt.”
3. Alcohol sales
It has been well documented that beer is now for sale at Milan Puskar Stadium, beginning this year. Luck basically said the school will examine the issue at the end of the season in conjunction with Big 12 officials.
Luck: "My understanding is the Big 12 doesn't have a policy on beer sales in stadiums. We'll review that at the end of the academic year with our board and pull in Big 12 officials."
4. The Missouri issue
Yes, the program that seems to be in the center of every college realignment story, is still a member of the Big 12. Neinas was asked about a timeline for the program’s departure to the SEC.
Neinas: “Until Missouri withdraws, they’re a member of the Big 12. I have no information on the timeline. You’ll have to talk to the University of Missouri.”
Neinas basically stayed away from this topic, never addressing the alleged political lobbying that came up last week and got West Virginia’s senators involved in the debate.
Instead he said as the process moved forward they had to consider having an 11 team conference if Missouri did not leave for the SEC. He said additional telephone calls were being made during the delay to make sure they could accommodate an 11th team if necessary.
As for expanding further?
Neinas: “The only thing constant in this world is change. So, I won’t say that there won’t be further expansion. But our mission was to move forward with 10 teams at this point. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be further consideration. Right now we’ve got our house in order. We’ve got everybody signed up.”