Luck: Big 12 happy at 10 teams

West Virginia University fans looking for the next round of conference realignment may have a longer wait than expected.

“Right now, the conference (Big 12) is happy with 10 teams,” Director of Athletics for the Mountaineers’ Oliver Luck explained during a recent interview with The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “That might change in a few years, but for now I don’t expect a new round of realignment any time soon.”

There were those who believed that once the College Football Playoffs began this year that a race to add teams – especially to the Big 12 – would occur.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to having a conference championship game,” continued Luck. “Who knows, two or three years from now, other members of the Big 5 Conferences might look at the Big 12 and question if having a championship game is a benefit to them.

“The Big 12 might look at the other four major conferences and decide that it wants a championship game instead of playing a round-robin schedule.

“Right now, the Big 12 is the only conference (of the Big 5) where every team plays one another.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that WVU’s director of athletics wouldn’t be in favor of expansion if it came.

“It would be nice to have a team or two closer to Morgantown – especially for our fans. But, for now we are attempting to get as many non-conference games as we can either at home or close enough for our fans to reach.”

One of those non-Big 12 games for 2014 will be against an Alabama squad coached by native son Nick Saban.

“Alabama will provide a big test for our program,” Luck said. “It will give our coaches and players an idea of where they are and what they must do in order to challenge not only for a Big 12 championship, but a national championship.”

It also will give fans of the old gold and blue a chance to travel to the site of one of WVU’s biggest victories – the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. WVU’s last visit to the facility occurred following the 2005 season. The then-Big East Mountaineers took on heavily-favored SEC champion Georgia before 74,458 fans in the Sugar Bowl and came away with a heart-stopping 38-35 victory – the first of three BCS titles by West Virginia.

The season-opener for both squads will be the first meeting on the gridiron between WVU and Alabama. The Crimson Tide failed in its attempt for a third straight national championship and ended last season with two straight losses so fans hoping to see an Alabama team looking past the Mountaineers won’t receive that gift.

WVU will, in all likelihood, face a Crimson Tide team hungry to snap a two-game losing streak – to Auburn 34-28 in the SEC championship game and 45-31 to the Big 12’s Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Mountaineer fans will be looking for any positives following a dismal 4-8 campaign last year and a great showing, win or lose, against Alabama would go a long way toward helping them forget the disappointments of the past two seasons.

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