I know that this site is dedicated to all things "Pitt". And I know in some circles that mentioning the name of a certain school to the south brings forth such vile and animosity that their name is better left unsaid. However, in this case, I'm going to do the unthinkable. I'm going to talk about West Virginia in a positive light.
In the murky and dollar-driven world of college athletics, the importance of academics and geography have taken a backseat to cable companies, television markets, and football programs. Recently, the ACC added Louisville to replace the cash-strapped Maryland Terrapins who will depart the conference in 2014 for the greener TV pastures of the Big Ten. The ACC made the smart move. They brought in an athletic program that is an improvement over many current schools in both football and basketball. Louisville has a chance to grow in leaps and bounds during the next few years, especially considering they were only in Conference USA just a decade ago. And in no means am I disrespecting Louisville here, but where was this thinking a year ago, Mr. Swofford?
A year ago, when Pitt and Syracuse joined the ACC, many (myself included) laughed at the idea of West Virginia possibly joining the league. Most thought there's no way those drunken, vulgar, hillpeople (certainly not my words) fit in with the Charlottesvilles and Chapel Hills of the world. West Virginia didn't fit the ACC mold. They didn't bring TV sets. They didn't bring academics. They brought above average football and basketball programs and a large fan base. Sound familiar?
Fast forward to today. I'm not laughing now. Louisville brings a lot to the ACC, they might bring even more if they can appease Florida State and Clemson. But imagine what West Virginia could have done? First of all, for Pitt fans, the Backyard Brawl would be restored (as it should be). Secondly, WVU is a program that has been to both a Final Four and BCS bowls in the last decade. They may not be a perfect cultural fit. I doubt many 'Eers fans own Croakies and Sperries, but I'm sure those fans wouldn't mind travelling to say, Blacksburg and Pittsburgh, instead of Ames and Waco.
If the ACC's goal today was to add an athletic program with a history of success, why didn't the ACC look closer at WVU last year? Why not add Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, and West Virginia? Yes, that would eliminate the possibility of Notre Dame, but the ACC could have been the first 16-team "superconference" with a range up and down the East Coast. That's a lot of television sets.
Look, hindsight is 20/20. But plain and simple, the ACC missed a huge opportunity. That's not to say the ACC will be raided again. The addition of Louisville should help to solidify the group and appease the football schools. However, adding West Virginia could have accomplished the same goal, and possibly more. It's a shame our neighbors in Morgantown were never given that opportunity.
As a Pitt fan, it's a tough fact to admit. But a true one nonetheless.