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Rine: With All WVU Has Done, Big East Should Let it Walk

January 8, 2012
By SHAWN RINE - Sports Editor ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - It's time for officials of the Big East Conference and West Virginia University to sit down at a table and hash out their differences. Leave the courtroom, judges and all that out of it, and settle it like men.

And when it's all finished the parties - as a show of good faith - can exchange parting gifts. The Mountaineers delivered theirs, again in the form of credibility for the conference, with a 70-33 rout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday night. You're up, Big East.

John Marinatto, it's time to let West Virginia fly away to the Big 12. The least you can do after all West Virginia has done for the Big East, is waive the 27-month waiting period - now.

Marinatto, the Big East commissioner, already has seen the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 swoop in and convince big-name programs to bolt on his watch, and this is his chance, perhaps the only one, he has to make things right.

It stands to reason that Marinatto would want the remaining and new members to show the conference is worthy of keeping its automatic Bowl Championship Series qualifying status - without the Mountaineers.

That doesn't seem all that likely to happen, however, and perhaps that's what Marinatto is thinking by trying to squeeze the orange for all it's worth.

West Virginia has carried the Big East on its broad shoulders since Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College exited to the ACC after the 2004 season, and will continue to do so if it is forced to stay. But what good does that do the re-configured Big East when the Mountaineers eventually take their ball, not to mention their BCS status, and go to their new home?

Since the BCS' inception in 1999, outside of Miami and West Virginia, the Big East has exactly one major bowl victory. That, of course, came in 2007 when Louisville beat wait for it the juggernaut that is Wake Forest, 24-13.

During that same time, West Virginia has won the Sugar Bowl against Georgia, the Fiesta against Oklahoma, and just last week the Orange against Clemson. Not only have the Mountaineers won those games, but they've done so by an average score of 52-32, and that's skewed by the fact they jumped to huge early leads each time. No other school in the country can claim those types of numbers inside the confines of the BCS.

Meanwhile, the other Big East members, including Miami and Virginia Tech, have lost seven times by an average margin of 20 points. If that's not WVU carrying the torch, I don't know what is.

John Marinatto has done plenty wrong during his tenure. Here's the first true opportunity to begin getting it right.

He's Scary

It's a little late, but congratulations to Wheeling Park senior boys' basketball player Boo Lathon. In case you missed it, Lathon was named ESPN's East Region Player of the Week recently.

Lathon scored 53 points and hauled down 21 rebounds for the Patriots in a pair of victories, including one in which he outscored rival Wheeling Central by himself, 29-25.

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