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West Virginia Officially Headed to Big 12, Likely Killing Big East's Remaining AQ Hopes

Any hopes that the Big East had of remaining an automatic qualifying conference for the BCS hinged on keeping West Virginia, which is sometimes the only ranked team in the Big East at the end of each year and almost always the best football team in the conference. West Virginia's gone.

And about Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's efforts to deep-six any move to the Big XIIish, especially sans Louisville?

Big 12 officials participated in an early-morning conference call in which they discussed inviting West Virginia and Louisville, but Louisville could not gain enough support.

This is really quite an accomplishment for as dysfunctional a conference as the Big 12; it's the first time in about 10 years that I can remember anyone defeating a McConnell filibuster. This tells you something about the state of the U.S. Senate, but I'm a political reporter, so I'll stop before I get too far into commentary that I shouldn't engage in and that's really not even necessary for a sports blog.

So that's it, right? Of course not. This is conference realignment that we're talking about here, meaning that nothing is ever that easy.

"We have taken West Virginia’s possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans," Marinatto said. "West Virginia is fully aware that the Big East Conference is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period for members who choose to leave the conference."

Statements by the Big 12 and West Virginia, however, say the Mountaineers will begin playing in the Big 12 next season.

This is not a small detail for the SEC's expansion plans. if West Virginia isn't allowed to bolt ahead of next year, the Big 12 is expected to try to lock down Missouri until 2013, which could leave the SEC playing a monstrous 13-team schedule in 2012.

The only question is whether the Big East membership might finally be willing to do what John Marinatto clearly hasn't: Give up on salvaging the league as a football conference. At that point, West Virginia and Missouri would be free to follow through on their plans for next season. I wouldn't suggest you hold your breath waiting for that.

Read all of Team Speed Kills' conference realignment coverage.