Update 10/25 2:30 p.m. EDT: Report from Charleston Daily Mail confirming West By God Virginia University is headed to the Big 12.
With Missouri poised to leave the Big 12 and apply for membership in the SEC, the Big 12 appears poised to extend an invitation to West Virginia, according to a report from CBSSports.com, citing industry officials. The New York Times' Pete Thamel, however, is reporting that West Virginia has already applied and been accepted.
Things could happen quickly after the Tigers make their intentions officially known, as the exit fee for the Mountaineers would double from $5 million to $10 million if the Big East adds Air Force or Navy before West Virginia leaves the rapidly crumbling conference that is in danger of losing its status as an automatic qualifier.
The biggest potential hurdle for the Big 12 is that West Virginia would not be able to join the conference until the 2014 season, increasing the pressure on negotiations between the league and Missouri as to when the Tigers would officially leave. Difficulties in putting together a 13-team schedule in the SEC are helping to push the Missouri timeline up.
It's possible, and perhaps even likely, that the Big 12 would have to survive 2012 and 2013 without Missouri in a nine-team league before the addition of West Virginia, which would present scheduling difficulties for the Big 12, most notably in forcing teams to find another non-conference opponent at the last second, which would likely require helping the new opponents buy out games with former opponents.
Despite the geographical distance of West Virginia from the rest of the league, the Mountaineers are apparently the leading candidate since BYU fell to the wayside and Louisville -- a better geographic fit -- doesn't have the same caliber of football program, enough to essentially eliminate them from being the top candidate in a football-driven landscape.