As our West Virginia Mountaineers make the transition into the Big 12 Conference, we as fans are beginning to wonder about the possibility of continuing the Backyard Brawl with arch rival Pittsburgh. Both universities have expressed at least some interest in continuing the rivalry at some point. However, it is still too soon to know when the two schools will sit down and coordinate an actual date.
An important thing to know before anyone starts filing petitions to get Pittsburgh placed on any future schedule is that WVU does not have an open non-conference date until 2017.
At this time, WVU has current and future contracts with Maryland, East Carolina, Michigan State, Brigham Young and don't forget the Florida State game for next season that is rumored to be on the chopping block. Remember that FSU may decide to play the game anyway and if so, WVU will not be able to work with anyone to replace them. I for one would rather keep them on the schedule anyway, and most fans hate that we had to back out of that game instead of another, but the actual costs of dropping the other games was too great.
Maryland will end up being West Virginia's last regional rivalry on the schedule for the next few seasons, and they have a contract to play WVU each season through 2017.
A home-and-home series I am truly excited about is the scheduling of the Michigan State Spartans. This intriguing setup will put the two teams against each other for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The East Carolina Pirates will show back up on the WVU schedule starting in 2013 for the first time since 2009. The Pirates and Mountaineers have played 21 times with WVU, holding an 18-3 edge in the series. The new contract will have ECU and WVU playing from 2013-2018.
In 2016, Mountaineer fans will be treated to a rare opponent, the BYU Cougars. The Cougars will play West Virginia in FedEx Field in Landover, MD. This game will pay out well over $2 million.
Even after all of the above mentioned opponents, WVU will have work on buying out of games against William & Mary in 2013 and Towson State in 2014. The two games are home games against opponents that are not at all marque events like this coming season's matchup against James Madison in Landover, MD. (This is marquee simply because of the payout teams will receive, and that it is at an NFL stadium.)
Below is the current picture of what our future non-conference opponents look like. Remember that in the current Big 12 format of 10 teams, we will only get three out-of-conference opponents each season and nine conference games.
2012: Maryland, James Madison*, Marshall
2013: @ Maryland*, East Carolina, Florida State, (William & Mary Should DROP)
2014: @ Maryland, @ East Carolina, Michigan State, (Towson State Should DROP)
2015: Maryland, East Carolina, @ Michigan State
2016: Maryland, @ East Carolina, Brigham Young*
2017: @ Maryland, East Carolina, OPEN DATE
2018: @ East Carolina, OPEN DATE, OPEN DATE
* Indicates the game is set to be played at a neutral site.
As long as the Big 12 stays at 10 teams, which is not likely, the above listed non-conference opponents should be a good list of what we will actually face on the football field. However, we never know what is going to happen do we? It may be wise for the WVU athletic department to wait and see what happens with any future Big 12 expansion before scheduling any of the open dates in 2017 and beyond, yet it would be hard to believe that any team will have fewer than three non-conference opponents.