Analysis: WVU - FSU Game Cancellation

In a terse four-sentence statement, Florida State University announced on Saturday that its September 8 game with West Virginia University has been cancelled.

"We were informed in writing late Friday afternoon of West Virginia University's intention to cancel its 2012 football game with Florida State University scheduled for September 8 in Tallahassee," Florida State University Athletics Director Randy Spetmen said. "We are disappointed for our coaches, players and fans that this game will not take place as originally scheduled. We now face the challenge of completing our 2012 schedule just seven months before the start of the season. We will work quickly and diligently to fill the hole on our schedule and will communicate with our season ticket holders and fans as the process moves forward."

The move to drop FSU from WVU's 2012 schedule did not come as a suprise. West Virginia is set to play nine conference games as a member of the Big 12 this fall, and with four non-conference games already scheduled, had to drop one. Each of those foes presented obstacles in dropping them from the schedule:

  • The Marshall game, a political football if there ever was one, was not seriously considered. Dropping that game would have met howls of protests in some political quarters, not to mention more sniping from Huntington.

  • The James Madison game, negotiated as a money-making neutral site contest, gives WVU as much or more money as it makes on a home contest. It also will allow WVU fans the chance to see another game outside of Mountaineer Field -- something that will be more difficult in the distant Big 12. Finally, WVU administrators clearly would not want to send a message to game organizers that it was uninterested in playing more games of this sort in the future. Put all those together, and the JMU game could not have been seriously considered for droppage.

  • The Maryland game might have been considered more strongly than the previous two, but the WVU-Maryland series has already been set through 2017. The Terps might have considered moving this game to the end of the contract, but again, WVU wants to keep as many nearby road games as possible, in order to give fans more viewing chances. Also, WVU's recruiting emphasis in the Washington-Baltimore metro area certainly weighs against cancelling any of these contests.

    That left the FSU game, which, while certainly not desirable, might be the least of all possible evils. WVU is also scheduled to host the Seminoles in 2013, but as the Mountaineers are one game over the maximum on that slate as well, it's expected that game will be cancelled as well.

    Left unnoticed in the immediate reaction to this move is the status of future schedules. The Big 12 has met recently to discuss expansion, and while not details of those talks have been reported, it appears as if the league is considering adding more teams in the near future. Further additions could again impact the number of out of conference games played by Big 12 schools, so this may be just the first of several juggling acts on WVU's future schedules.

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