Aug 8, 2012 11:26 AM WV State of Mind
Uncover West Virginia's best-kept secrets
I’m excited to announce our newest publication—The Ultimate Sports & Travel Guide to the New Big 12. It will be hitting newsstands from coast to coast and the iTunes, Amazon, and Google app stores in September. If you are a WVU football fan, you can’t help but be excited for the upcoming season. BIG changes are in store. Which is why we created this publication—a piece that will serve as a primer on the Big 12 Conference, including its two newest members, as well as showcase each of the college towns as a tourism-rich destination, providing an insider’s guide to where to stay, eat, and shop. As fans, we know that football is more than just a sport. It is a lifestyle. It is an important driver of tourism. And it has a direct influence on our culture and heritage.
It was only one year ago that a realignment apocalypse saw Texas A&M and University of Missouri sailing away to the SEC. The Big 12, facing a catastrophic crisis, made a historic move, and for the first time in its 16-year history, it added new members and expanded its territory into the Eastern Time zone. Two reigning conference champions, Big East champion West Virginia University (WVU) and Mountain West champion Texas Christian University (TCU) joined the league, adding an exciting new dimension.
Addressing a group of WVU student athletes on the day their university officially joined the conference, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, “I don’t think any of us know how much better we are going to be collectively than we are right now. As good of a place as this is, I think the Big 12 will make West Virginia a better place. I think West Virginia will make the Big 12 a better conference and I feel the same way about TCU.”
Like WVU and TCU, Bob Bowlsby himself is a new kid on the block. In July, he left his position as the athletic director of Stanford University to become the Big 12’s fourth commissioner. Since taking the helm, he’s joined the negotiations on securing a momentous television contract, started by interim director Chuck Neinas, which will propel the Big 12 into America’s highest stratosphere of college sports.
So before you get your game face on, you need to check out the guide and read about the history, traditions, and predictions for each of the Big 12 universities. You’ll learn the Baylor “Bear Claw” (see why Kansas State’s Coach Bill Snyder is so revered, discover the tailgating traditions of the Texas Longhorns, and how Oklahoma State became the conference’s defending title holder. And before you pack your bags, you’ll want to make plans to visit Lubbock’s Depot Entertainment District, tour the progressive college town of Lawrence, take in the Cherokee Gothic architecture of Norman, and shop in Fort Worth’s Stockyard District.
As this season unfolds, fans will certainly be looking to the future. Will the conference expand from 10 to 12 teams, bringing two more powerhouse programs into the fold? Commissioner Bowlsby says that the conference isn’t looking, but if the right team comes knocking, he won’t rule it out. He says, “The Big 12 should be the toughest fraternity to join.” One thing’s for sure, we’ll be keeping our fingers on the pulse of the Big 12 as we work on next year’s guide, which will be expanded to include other sports, including men’s and women’s basketball. To reserve your copy, e-mail us at Big12@newsouthmediainc.com.
In the meantime, you can carry this treasure trove of information with you as you travel and tailgate, just download the Big 12 Guide app. Beginning mid-September, it is available on iPad, iPhone, Kindle, and Android tablets. The app version also includes great videos and hyperlinks to additional useful information.
“I think the best days of this conference are ahead,” Bowlsby said at the start of Big 12 football media days. And all indications prove him right. There are no other conferences that possess three reigning conference champions or six teams that won 10 or more games last season. So, fall football fans, it’s time to gear up and hit the road in support of your favorite team.
Let the games begin!