Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas recently gave a telephone interview to the Charleston (WV) Gazette. In the interview, he covered a wide variety of topics to the degree that current legalities allowed him to, and some of his comments were revealing, if not infuriating. Particularly, Neinas' comments about the departure of Missouri to the SEC and the Big East's desire to hold West Virginia to the 27-month waiting period that Pittsburgh and Syracuse are currently abiding by are hilarious, if not sad.
Neinas told the Gazette that the Big 12 will deliver a football schedule by February 1, even with West Virginia's status tied up in court. He recognized the difficulty of the situation and blamed...Missouri:
"The one thing that gets lost is we're in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri," Neinas said. "But the SEC was willing to play with 13 [rather than 14] next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.
"We had a teleconference call with those in the SEC, Big East, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA. We all agreed we could save money and avoid litigation if all held serve for 2012-13. All agreed. But Missouri made a very selfish decision. It's been very disruptive. Missouri gave us notice in November [of 2011] and it's pretty difficult to move forward then."
This really is rich. Missouri made a "very selfish decision" that left the Big 12 in a very difficult situation. Announcing a departure for another conference in November, it turns out, leaves a conference in the lurch. What was Neinas response to such a thing? He and the Big 12 then invited West Virginia to do precisely the same thing to the Big East. It's especially galling for Neinas to be upset that the SEC violated the apparent gentleman's agreement to not take any additional teams for 2012-2013, only to violate it himself just a few weeks later.
And should Neinas be upset that Missouri and the SEC didn't honor a non-binding agreement when he's accepting a team into his own ranks in West Virginia that is flagrantly violating a firm contractual agreement with the Big East, one that it helped craft and repeatedly agreed to uphold? It's also humorous that The Big 12 is desperate to get West Virginia for 2012 so the conference can keep its television contract commitments by getting West Virginia to break its own contractual commitment to the Big East.
Neinas, however, keeps digging:
"The Big East gets on planes and flies all over the country inviting other schools," Neinas said. "But they raise hell when West Virginia wants to come to the Big 12?
"We didn't solicit West Virginia; West Virginia solicited us -- as did other Big East schools. It seems to me the Big East has a double standard. And the Big East was talking about [automatic qualifying status to the BCS]. There's not going to be AQs in the near future."
Neinas is a successful business man, so I have a hard time believing he actually believes this. But in response, the issue with the Big East is not that it is trying to keep West Virginia from going to the Big 12. The Big East is used to teams coming and going. It's been a part of life since the conference began playing football in 1991. The Big East isn't trying to stop West Virginia from going to the Big 12. The conference simply wants West Virginia to abide by the exit stipulations that exist in the conference's bylaws. Stipulations that West Virginia has affirmed and reaffirmed multiple times. Stipulations that Pittsburgh and Syracuse, teams also slated to leave the Big East, are abiding by without issue.
As for the Big East flying "all over the country" inviting teams, that's true. But, Neinas will search in vain for an instance of the Big East attempting to poach teams from other conferences by violating their current conference's bylaws. He'll also search in vain for an instance of the Big East inviting teams to join and leave the school's current conference with less than a year to find schedule replacements for its current members.
It would be one thing for Neinas to be frank and say he understands that he's leaving the Big East in a lurch but, this is the world we live in and we needed a 10th team for the money. I could respect that kind of candor. But to complain about Missouri's selfishness while displaying plenty of your own is too much to let pass without comment.