West Virginia officially joined the Big 12 earlier this week. Think about that sentence.
West Virginia, the school the Atlantic Coast Conference didnt want, a school the Big Ten never seriously considered, hit a major jackpot.
The Mountaineers are in a glamour league, meaning they are 12 well-executed games from playing for a national title whether the postseason model is archaic, like it is now, or modern, like it will be when a four-team playoff is introduced in 2014.
The playoff system is creating extensive searches for attractive non-conference matchups.
Heres a proactive idea for Penn State coach Bill OBrien and whoever becomes permanent athletic director: call West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and athletic director Oliver Luck as soon as possible.
Penn State rekindling its series with Pitt in 2016-17 satisfies purists, but a Penn State-West Virginia game would satisfy a more important group a selection committee.
Strength of a schedule, a concept that creates fierce March basketball debates, will be a major factor in determining college footballs four-team field.
The Mountaineers have ended four of the past five seasons in the top 25. They own two Bowl Championship Series victories during the stretch, defeating Oklahoma 48-28 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and clobbering Clemson 70-33 in last seasons Orange Bowl.
Pitts past five records: 6-7, 8-5, 10-3, 9-4 and 5-7. The Panthers best postseason victory during the stretch is a 19-17 triumph over unranked North Carolina in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl. Pitt has finished in the top 25 No. 15 in 2009 once in the last five years.
Pitt is also switching leagues. The Panthers could join the ACC as early as 2013. The ACC has absorbed beatings in BCS games, going 2-13 in major bowls since 1998. That record isnt improving unless Florida State and Miami start playing like its 1992.
West Virginias move to the Big 12 aligns it with recent BCS title game participants Oklahoma and Texas.
The move represents a major step for West Virginias football program. The Mountaineers are adding the Sooners and Longhorns, plus rising Oklahoma State and fellow Big 12 newcomer TCU, to the schedule. The quartet is more formidable than anything the Big East offered, so winning 10 games in the Big 12 could be difficult.
Holgorsen, an innovative second- year coach, should regularly win eight and nine games and occasionally field a conference title contender.
Some preseason magazines, includingDave Camp-bells 2012 Texas Football,are picking the Mountaineers to win the Big 12 this season.
Facing West Virginia would serve as a postseason primer. They play a southern style yet own an eastern mailing address. The Mountaineers recruit Texas and Florida, and slick players fill key offensive positions. Theres also the fun factor.
Morgantown is a college town with unpredictable and raucous crowds. The Mountaineers arent just a big attraction in their home state. Their fans fill various Southwestern Pennsylvania and Western Maryland counties. Penn State and West Virginia recruit many of the same players. The schools, after all, are separated by 180 scenic miles.
Penn States presence would make Morgantown an electric place, and Penn State actually has a shot at selling take-a-loan-out-priced tickets for a non-conference game against a Big 12 opponent with a dazzling offense.
The schools also have an extensive football history. They have met 59 times but havent played since 1992. They were under contract to play twice more when Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993.
Perhaps a football game will lead to non-conference matchups in other sports.
Penn State mens basketball coach Patrick Chambers said last month he has spoken with West Virginias Bob Huggins about future meetings. Penn States baseball team would benefit from a midweek game against a Big 12 opponent.
Scheduling, especially in football, is a complex endeavor.
Finding viable opponents will become tougher when playing multiple Mid-American Conference and Division I-AA opponents yields postseason snubs.
Its likely SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 teams fill most of the playoff spots. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have forged an agreement that will produce matchups by 2017. Beating two opponents from power conferences, including a successful one from a bordering state, would impress a selection committee.
Fitting West Virginia, Pitt and a Pac-12 opponent on the same schedule might be impossible.
Those who want to hand Pitt a permanent place on Penn States future schedules must consider the sports changing landscape.
Nostalgia is nice, but playing the neighbor who joined the Big 12 last weekend makes more football sense.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy