NOTE: Updated from the original post in September of last year.
When Louisville joined the Big East in 2005, fans knew that a rivalry with West Virginia would soon spark because of the high-scoring offenses and the coaching staffs in place. Both schools frequented the Top 20 and were becoming household names in the college football landscape. The first game between the new conference mates saw UofL blow a 24-7 second half lead and bow out in three OTs, 46-44. The following season UofL got payback and beat the Mountaineers 44-34 in what was arguably the biggest home game in PJCS history and won their first BCS game a few weeks later. After that magical season, Petrino skipped town to go to Atlanta and Hurricane Krag blew through and wrecked the program after winning just 15 games in three years. WVU lost their coach too, but after Rich Rodriguez left, the late Bill Stewart led them to a Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma. Dana Holgerson took over and guided them to a 10-3 season in his first year on the job and an Orange Bowl win over Clemson.
On October 28, 2011, UofL’s athletics world was turned upside down as WVU won the two-horse Big 12 race and got what most thought was the last ticket to “Big Boy” power conference football. The networks wanted WVU over UofL primarily because of football, so the ‘eers got the call. After a messy Big East divorce, WVU had to pay the league $20 million to leave and become a member of the Big 12 by July 1, 2012. West Virginia started off like gang busters in early 2012, going 5-0 and ranked in the top 10 after beating Texas and Baylor. However, WVU fell off the map losing six of their last eight games to finish 7-6. This past season they were even worse, failing to secure a winning season at 4-8.
In the middle of WVU’s meltdown, Louisville got a much needed and well deserved break. The Big Ten was expanding again and took Maryland from the ACC. Tom Jurich and President James Ramsey went all in for the ACC in hopes of an invite and on November 28, 2012 – one year and one month from WVU’s Big 12 invite – UofL got their golden ticket from the ACC. That officially kicked off the Year of the Cardinal as UofL won big in football, men’s and women’s hoops, and in baseball. Our friends from Morgantown? Well, let’s just say that they haven’t had much success in pretty much anything outside of their women’s basketball team going 30-5 last season. (However, their rifle team is supposedly elite on an annual basis.) UofL fans would like to thank the Big 12 for their small vision for the future. Their lack of leadership made it possible for the ACC to act.
Since WVU accepted an invite to the Big 12 in October 28, 2011:
*10-3, sharing the Big East title with Louisville and won the 2011 Orange Bowl
*Finished 7-6 last year , losing to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl
*In 2013, they went 4-8
*19-14, lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament
*13-19 in 2013
*17-16, lost to Georgetown in the first round of the 2014 NIT
*24-10, lost to Stanford in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament
*17-14, lost to Delaware in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament
*30-5, lost to LSU in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament
*23-32 in 2012
*33-26 in 2013 (no postseason)
*28-26 in 2014 (no postseason)
Since Louisville accepted its ACC invitation on November 28, 2012:
*11-2, beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl and finished ranked #13
*12-1, beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, finished ranked 15th
*35-5, beat Michigan for the NCAA Championship, finished #1
*31-6, won Co-AAC Regular Season, won AAC Tournament, Sweet 16
*29-9, lost to UConn in the NCAA Championship, finished #2
*33-5, lost to Maryland in the Elite 8
*51-14, CWS appearance, finished #8
*50-17, CWS appearance, finished #6 (beat WVU, 7-6)
Nobody here feels sorry for WVU’s fall; most especially because of their hilljack fan base. While at first it appeared West Virginia had received the last spot in conference realignment, UofL ended up with the best fit in the best case scenario. Louisville across the board is strong, while WVU on the other hand, is, well, struggling a bit.