by Matt Harvey
ASST. MANAGING EDITOR
Now that you're getting used to the idea of West Virginia University staying in the Big East Conference, I thought I'd rock your world a little bit.
Matt Hayes, who covers college football for The Sporting News, wrote recently that Vanderbilt appears to be falling out of favor in the powerful Southeastern Conference.
And if Vanderbilt gets booted, get this: Hayes indicated the Mountaineers could be seen as a viable replacement.
This kind of rumor usually gets planted for two reasons. One is to get a school to shape up; in this case, that would mean Vanderbilt would need to start doing a better job of competing. The other reason: League officials really are considering kicking out Vandy in favor of WVU, and want to see what kind of positive or negative press that move might generate.
This would be a no-brainer for WVU. The SEC is consistently one of the best football conferences in the country. It's also consistently one of the best basketball conferences in the country. And it has several schools with marquee value in football, basketball or both, including: Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn.
WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and President David Hardesty ought to do everything short of standing on their heads (come to think of it, they should even do that, if it'd work) to get an invitation.
It was nice to see Johnny Cash get plenty of respect at a recent country music award show.
It's just a shame a lot of those people ignored him while he was still alive.
I also read in The Sporting News the prediction that NASCAR will change its points system as soon as next year.
From the way it sounds, the changes will put more emphasis on winning and less on consistency.
That will encourage drivers and teams to do whatever it takes to win, including cheating.
That kind of system also will limit the pool of potential points winners to a handful of teams with the most powerful sponsors.
Politics, business and sports, it's all the same: Big money will find a way to win, even if it's by rewriting the rules.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started this season with a lousy record, but they can still hope to get hot and make the playoffs. There, with a few breaks, maybe they could even advance to the Super Bowl.
No such luck for WVU.
The Mountaineers eliminated one goal from their list -- trying to play in the Sugar Bowl's BCS title game -- after their very first loss.
The current system makes the regular season exciting, but only for teams that are in the top five or top 10. Every year, it also relegates three of the top four bowls to also-ran status.
Switch to a 16-team playoff or just go back to letting the polls decide a champion.
Assistant Managing Editor Matt Harvey can be reached at (304) 626-1442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org