According to a Wednesday report from the Associated Press, the Big 12 is now considering Louisville for the spot that will be vacated if Missouri moves to the SEC, not West Virginia. The report comes just a day after news broke that West Virginia would be extended an invitation to leave the Big East for the Big 12 in the event Missouri announced it was leaving.
AP also confirmed that Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell lobbied on Louisville's behalf and helped prevent WVU's immediate inclusion. Both of West Virginia's U.S. senators have now entered the fray as well, with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin offering the following harsh words to the AP in an e-mail statement:
"If these outrageous reports have any merit - and especially if a United States Senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made - then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get the truth. West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports."
Sources told the AP that while Louisville and West Virginia are front-runners for Missouri's spot, the Big 12 is also considering adding as many as three teams, with BYU also being discussed. The source said the league would be unlikely to take both West Virginia and Louisville.
Meanwhile, the Big East will likely be down to at most five football-playing schools after Louisville or West Virginia takes off and will need to add seven football members in order to reach its stated goal of a 12-team league. In recent weeks, the league has been trying to add Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football members and SMU, Central Florida for all sports. The league had been set to add TCU in 2012, but the Horned Frogs, too, decided to jump ship to the Big 12.
Visit Big East Coast Bias for complete coverage of the conference realignment saga as it continues.