What’s been rumored has now been made official, and Western Kentucky will join Conference USA in 2014. Now lets see how quickly the other item that’s been reported — that Tulsa will leave C-USA and join the Big We-Don’t-Have-A-Name-Yet — comes to fruition.
There are immediate benefits for Marshall in the move. It’s about a four-hour drive from Huntington to Bowling Green, Ky., so that gives Herd fans another away game they can reach by car rather than plane. WKU joins Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and Charlotte in that regard.
I know there are folks out there that lament the departures of schools like UCF and Houston and the arrival of schools like Florida Atlantic and UTSA, saying the conference is inviting weaker competition. I don’t think WKU can be painted with that same brush.
Willie Taggart got the Big Red to its first FBS bowl, where it lost to Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl, before he bolted for the University of South Florida. But WKU replaced him with Bobby Petrino, and while many questions can be asked about his character, there’s no question that he’s a brilliant football tactician. The only question in that vein is how long he’ll stay in Bowling Green.
WKU should give men’s basketball a boost, too. The Big Red have made seven NCAA appearances and two NIT appearances since the 2000-01 season. That’s good news for a conference that between the other departing teams, current teams and arriving teams, accounted for just two NCAA tournament berths this season — Memphis and Middle Tennessee.
Western Kentucky ain’t Alabama, but as far as available options go, it was a pretty good one, probably the best. Plus, this is its mascot …
I’m all for large, amorphous red beings.