Mountaineers lacking a conference rival


West Virginia as one of the newest members in the Big 12 is lacking a true rivalry game within conference play heading in to a season with a slate of teams they’ve rarely ever seen on a football field. The last time they played a Big 12 school was in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, and have not faced any of the current Big 12 programs more than four times.

Texas Christian, on the other hand, has history with just about every team in the conference. So finding a rivalry is a bit easier for the Horned Frogs. Also, sharing a state with three other schools helps TCU build rivalries within driving range for its fans. But out in Morgantown, West Va., Milan Puskar Stadium isn’t exactly a trip many fans will want to make.

The Mountaineer fans were able to schedule two rivals before they begin conference play. They’ll kick off the year against Marshall for the Governor’s Cup, and play rival Maryland a week before their first Big 12 match-up against Baylor on WVU’s Homecoming week.

Obviously, conference opponents fill up most of your schedule, and college football is not as fun without rivalries. So who will Mountaineer fans direct their hatred toward to replace Pittsburgh and Syracuse?

Proximity is a factor in most rivalries, but Morgantown is just so far away from the rest of the league. Iowa State is geographically the closest to West Virginia, but not by much. Though, do you really expect the Cyclones to compete with the Mountaineers on a regular basis and animosity to develop between two fan bases? It is highly unlikely, so I wouldn’t look to Ames to become West Virginia’s go-to rivalry in the Big 12.

Oklahoma does come to mind. They have played the Mountaineers the most times, though, they’ve only met on four occasions. Sooner fans would definitelylove to get even with the Mountaineers this season after WVU destroyed OU in the Fiesta Bowl four years ago, and these two teams should be vying for the Big 12 championship for many years to come. So OU could step in to that role. However, OU has so many “rivals,” they lose value after a while.

Another team that could temporarily be a rival is Oklahoma State. Since I’m not a Cowboy fan I can’t really tell you how I felt about Dana Holgerson leaving the Pokes for the Mountaineer’s head coaching job. Although, Dana did what was best for his career, so I’m sure the fine folks in Stillwater understood his decision to jump on the opportunity.

Also, for what it’s worth, these two teams will definitely dominate the Big 12 uniform power rankings every year. As everyone knows, Cowboys got a makeover last season, so even if the games aren’t great between OSU and WVU, at least both rosters will look good?

These are the teams I could see developing as rivals, but as a fan, you don’t just pick and choose who you hate. There usually is a reason behind the hatred, so until West Virginia plays a few seasons in the Big 12, we cannot really say who will and won’t be games of interest for the Mountaineers. Rivalries take time to develop, and it’s really lame to try and create them. Looking at you Missouri and South Carolina.