I bet the biggest loser, outside of Louisville of course, is going to be Greg Van Zant.
The WVU baseball coach was lucky to get a one-year contract extension from Athletic Director Oliver Luck. I have a feeling, though, that will be his final contract extension at the school. I found it nauseating that Van Zant has been able to stick around despite a mediocre program for so many years, but in the Big East it's possible. In the Big 12, where baseball is up at another level, I just don't see WVU as it is being able to compete.
I bet the biggest winners in all of this are the men's and women's basketball teams.
You could say they are losers because they leave the best basketball conferences in the country. But, I'd say otherwise. West Virginia men's basketball program now has easier competition night in and night out to play against, which should allow head coach Bob Huggins to put up more and more wins. On the women's side, no longer will Connecticut be the thorn in WVU's side. Head coach Mike Carey will be able to compete with Baylor and others on a consistent basis, and that will look better for recruiting.
I bet West Virginia fans believe they will compete each year in football with Oklahoma and Texas … And I bet they're wrong.
WVU fans have a confident outlook on facing teams like Oklahoma and Texas each year because of the 2008 Fiesta Bowl victory over the Sooners. At this point, the Mountaineers lose at least seven of 10 matchups with the Sooners and Longhorns. WVU will be a strong candidate each season for the third-best program, but I've seen it for years – Oklahoma and Texas dominate the Big 12 for a reason. There's no changing that … it's what WVU signed up for.
I bet the men's soccer program won't ever be the same … it will be better.
As long as head coach Marlon LeBlanc is the head coach at West Virginia, it will be one of the best programs in the country. There is the potential that it could become a national power, too. Look at a team like Akron, who plays in the Mid-American Conference. The Zips are one of the best in the country – and they don't play the best schedule. WVU will have an opportunity to become the new Akron in whichever conference it lands.
I bet WVU will become know to all Big 12 teams for having a fortress in Morgantown. The road trips, I bet, will kill these Midwest teams.
The trip from Lubbock, Texas to Morgantown will be one that causes many eye rolls from the Texas Tech faithful. The same can be said for every other school in the Big 12. It won't be a fun road trip. It will be taxing, annoying and everything in between. Look for the Mountaineers' winning percentage at home to continue to increase.
I bet WVU will have a new rival … and it won't be Oklahoma … it will be TCU.
When I asked fans who West Virginia's new rival will be on Twitter over the weekend, I got some odd responses in my mind. Many fans said either Oklahoma (because of 2008 Fiesta Bowl), Oklahoma State (Dana Holgorsen vs. Mike Gundy) or Kansas State (Huggins vs. Frank Martin). Here's the thing about rivalries, though. Both teams have to consider each other a rival for it to be a rivalry. Oklahoma has Texas. Oklahoma State has Oklahoma. Kansas State has Kansas. None of these teams would be WVU's main rival. There is one team who would fit as a rival – TCU. The school has no Big 12 rival, either, and will also be considered the "new kid" in town like WVU.
I bet WVU will have a softball team by 2015.
This is more of a hope than a bet. Softball has a place in Morgantown, I swear. The area of Ohio and Pennsylvania are fairly fertile recruiting grounds for the sport, and the sport would be welcomed by many in West Virginia. Softball is one of the Big 12's best non-revenue sports, so it would make sense that the conference would like to see it expand to Morgantown. It will take time to build a stadium and get the money, but I'd see a day in the future with a baseball and softball doubleheader at WVU one spring afternoon.
I bet facilities like the Natatorium and Hawley Field will get an upgrade. I bet you could see some changes at Milan Puskar Stadium and the WVU Coliseum, too.
These facilities have been planned for renovation for years, but Luck admitted on Friday that these plans could be sped up because of the conference move. The Natatorium is old. Hawley Field is just not going to cut in the Big 12. Those changes need made as soon as possible. Plans to add luxury suites in both the football stadium and basketball arena have been talked about, as well. I'd expect that to happen now, too. Look for some more efficient parking options in the future, too.
I bet, in six years when the Big 12 rights agreement is over, WVU will have improved athletics and academics in case another conference move needs to be made.
Here's a thought: In six years, what if Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make a move to the Pac-12 after all? That would just be awful. But, wait! WVU, unlike Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville and Rutgers, was able to advance to the Big 12 and learn that it could succeed athletically at a higher level and improve its academic standards, as well. If the Big 12 ever broke apart, the Mountaineers would be in a way better position for another conference down the line now. I know that's not what we want to think about, but it's hard to believe WVU will compete for the rest of time in the Big 12.
Finally, I bet those Big 12 logos around will look pretty darn awesome.
Soon after the spring sports season is over, you'll get to see something really cool – those Big East logos will be no more. It will be a welcome change, as the Mountaineers will have signaled in a new era with some Big 12 logos. In the end, this move will allow WVU to advance to a new level. And that's all you can ask for at this point in collegiate athletics.
Follow @BlueGoldNews for complete coverage of WVU athletics.
For more from Tony Dobies, subscribe to the Blue & Gold News print edition: http://bit.ly/SubscribeToBGN