Apparently the writing is on the wall with local school Missouri who appears headed to the SEC. With that, the Big 12 appears to be on the verge of adding West Virginia from the Big East Conference. While West Virginia isn't exactly a local school by any means, it would be a major coup for the Big 12's stability and brand recognition. In today's football driven world of college athletics, the fact that West Virginia's closest Big 12 opponent is Iowa State at 870 miles away, becomes just an afterthought.
So who exactly is West Virginia for those in the Midwest who may not be familiar with their university and/or their athletic programs? Founded in 1867 as a public land-grand institution (ISU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State are current Big 12 land-grant school), West Virginia has an enrollment of just over 29,000 students. Iowa State and Oklahoma both have similar enrollments.
At $406 million, West Virginia's endowment would be near the lower end of the conference with only Kansas State trailing.
Most of you didn't come here to read up on academics however and are more interested in the Mountaineer athletic program. If you need reminded, the current head coaches of their two high profiles sports both have ties with the current Big 12 Conference.
Football coach Dana Holgerson is in his first season with West Virginia and previously served stints as offensive coordinator at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. It should be no surprise that Holgerson's teams strongly resemble the same attributes offensively as his mentor, Mike Leach.
Coaching the men's basketball team is WVU alum, Bob Huggins. Prior to coming back to Morgantown, Huggins spent a year at the helm of Kansas State, leading the Wildcats to a 23-12 record in 2006-07. He can be credited with helping bring an assistant coach named Frank Martin to Manhattan and the KSU program hasn't looked back since.
Known for a rabid fanbase that will potentially fit in well with the Big 12, Mountaineer Field has a capacity of 60,000 which is bigger than five Big 12 schools (counting future member TCU), and roughly the same size as the football stadiums at both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. WVU Coliseum holds 14,000 fans and would be in the middle of the Big 12 as well.
Moving onto success rate, the basketball team was Big East Conference Champions as recently as 2010, a year in which they won 31 games and advanced to the program's second Final Four all-time. 23 times the men's program has reached the NCAA tournament.
The woman's basketball team has also posted recent success, winning 29 games in 2010 and qualifying for the 2011 NCAA tournament, the sixth overall.
On the football field, the Mountaineers have won 14 conference championships for a program that dates back to 1891. Over that time, West Virginia has won 60% of games played and is 13-15 overall in 28 all-time bowl appearances. To cap off the 2007 season, West Virginia beat Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia is 2-0 in BCS games, having also defeated Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
The most noted tradition that Big 12 fans may already be aware of is John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" being played after many contents.
Notable athletic alumni of West Virginia University include Tommy Bowen, Marc Bugler, Jeff Hostetler, Sam Huff, Bob Huggins, Rich Rodriguez, Steve Slaton, Darryl Talley, Jerry West, and Pat White.