Imagine that you barely knew about the existence of American college football growing up. Conferences and membership weren't even thoughts crossing your mind, because you didn't know about them or understand their significance. That's the background from which WVU offensive lineman Curtis Feigt emerged.
The native of Berlin, Germany was more familiar with the Bundesliga than the Big 12 when he came to Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania to play American football, so he certainly wasn't up to speed on conference moves and their importance.
"Coming here I didn't know anything about any conference," he said. "During my time at high school I learned a little more about conferences and how they worked, so I figured out what teams played in what conferences When I committed to West Virginia I learned they were in the Big East, but now that we're going to the Big 12, that's a big jump. I think we're motivated and excited.
"All of us understand the level of competition is definitely going to be increasing going to the Big 12. We are preparing hard this summer, and we're looking forward to it now. We know it's going to be much tougher and a big challenge, but we're willing to take that on."
Feigt now considers himself reasonably up to speed on conference comings and goings, but there wasn't much he could compare it to in terms of major sports in Germany. Not surprisingly, soccer was a sport he followed growing up, but affiliations of teams are done much differently in that sport.
"With soccer everything is pretty much based on countries, so that's sort of comparable to a conference, but no one is going to be leaving their country for another country," he said with a laugh. "Each year you could move up or down if you have a certain record, so that's the only thing that would be comparable to changing."
Feigt is still adjusting to a major move of his own, one which parallels, on a personal level, the challenge of West Virginia's move to an elite league. He's beginning his second year as an offensive lineman under assistant coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
"Coach Bedenbaugh is different that (former defensive line coach Bill) Kirelawich. The difference is mostly verbal, you might say. Coach Bedenbaugh was a lot more patient with us when we first came in. We didn't have a whole lot of time to get this system down before the season started, so I would say this season he explained stuff more in detail He took more time to explain it to us. That was a big difference for me just coming over to the offensive line. It gave me the chance to address things I needed to improve."
The league switch, combined with the need to combat greater speed in the Big 12, has lead to some changes this summer as well. In addition to the publicized shadowboxing drills, Feigt sees a trend toward other work with one goal in mind – improvement of quickness. More mobility drills, extra footwork practice and more during summer workouts are all pointed in that same direction. And it's one that Feigt, who now has the conference thing straightened out, sees being achieved.