clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

If the Big 12 doesn't expand near West Virginia, that suits Dana Holgorsen just fine

The only Big 12 team to beat Baylor last year did so in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The most popular Big 12 expansion theory is that the 10-team league will look to add at least one school in the Eastern Time Zone. The idea behind it is to bridge the island fourth-year member West Virginia was left on after realignment.

West Virginia president Gordon Gee has reinforced this idea, telling SB Nation's Matt Brown that the addition of a nearby school would benefit the Mountaineers:

Would I like to have maybe another member of our conference in this part of the world? Probably so, but those are discussions that are going to take place, and certainly that is part of the consideration.

But the disposition of fifth-year WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen drips with the Appalachian obstinance of the Wild and Wonderful State. To hell with whatever the governing body says; we'll survive on our own, and we like it this way.

"No. No. Makes no difference, whatsoever," Holgorsen responded at Big 12 Media Days when asked if an expansion would benefit his program.

"I've never used the travel as an excuse. Now, our baseball team and our basketball teams face some challenges. It's a separate discussion for them, but for us, we're going to treat every game the same. One of the flights may be two hours and 30 minutes as opposed to one hour and 30 minutes, but an hour makes no difference," Holgorsen said.

"Our fan base is who had to come to terms with it more than anything, you know? They were pretty spoiled in the Big East being able to drive an hour, two hours, three hours and watch an away game. But it's made our home games more important and that's why, coming to Morgantown, it's a pretty exciting atmosphere. Our fan base needs to take advantage of the home games."

Holgorsen said he's seen an improvement in the atmosphere at Milan Puskar Stadium since the move to the Texas-centric Big 12.

"My one year in Big East ball [2011], I didn't see it. The LSU game was big. The Backyard Brawl was big. But the other games, I didn't see that kind of atmosphere, whereas now every game is that kind of atmosphere," Holgorsen said.

The average distance to any other Big 12 school is 1,151 miles. In West Virginia's final season as a member of the Big East, the 'Eers played at Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers and Syracuse, an average of 511.

According to Google Maps, driving round trip to the Big 12's westernmost school, Texas Tech, would be a 2,270-mile, 43-hour jaunt. Iowa State (862 miles), Kansas (900) and Kansas State (981) are the local conference rivals.

"You're not going to be able to travel to every game as a fan, so welcome to the real world, you know? You don't go to all the road games. You defend your home turf and you pick one road game a year, and that's what you need to do," Holgorsen said.

Does that distance give WVU a home-field edge? The math is inconclusive; the Mountaineers played like a top-40 team in Big 12 home games last year, according to Bill Connelly's season preview, and dipped on the road, but that's about normal.

The Mountaineers are 5-9 at home in Big 12 play as attendance has climbed. WVU attendance averaged 56,686 in 2014, up 7 percent from a 4-8 2013. That's likely been aided by four home games against top-10 opponents, despite a 1-3 performance.

But that one was the high point: a 41-27 win over No. 4 Baylor last October, a game Holgorsen and his players credited in part to Milan Puskar's hospitality a week after the Bears' 61-58 win over TCU.

"I try not to look up there during games, because God knows what's going on," offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky said. "West Virginia's been known to have that crazy environment the entire time they've had a football program, so I think the fans do a really good job of keeping up with tradition, a tradition of being crazy.

"People always talk about how we travel, but six teams have to travel up to Morgantown each year to play us."

SIGN UP FOR OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWSLETTER

Get all kinds of NCAA Football stories, rumors, game coverage, and pictures of Puddles in your inbox every day.