I woke up yesterday morning and like usual turned on ESPN while eating breakfast. Low and behold, some of the best sports news I had seen all summer, BYU was to join the Western Athletic Conference for all sports but football. The Cougars would have to come to Logan every year and play basketball against the Aggies in the Spectrum. It seemed as if this summers conference shake-up was going to be a good thing for everyone including, a Boise State-less, Western Athletic Conference.
That was until the Mountain West poached Fresno State and Nevada, two of the premier WAC football teams, yesterday afternoon! Leaving the WAC with the following six schools, Utah State, Idaho, San Jose State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, and New Mexico State. Six teams spread across six states, with no natural rivalries and limited historic rivalries. This is a very bad situation. Only two of the state are even neighbors!
I was opposed to the idea of super conferences (Texas & Oklahoma going to the PAC-10) this summer because of the ruining of rivalries and the large geographic distances that would separate the institutions, but in reality those conferences could survive that. The WAC with six teams, can not. And I am not willing to pay another increase in student fees so that Utah State's athletic teams can travel to Ruston, LA and Honolulu, HI because ESPN and its TV money do not want to support a conference with just six teams.
Honestly, I don't know what can be done and I have absolutely no power to do anything about it. So in theory, this blog is more of a rant than a solution, but if I were in charge of the WAC, this is what I would try and do; entice Montana to move up from the Big Sky and Wyoming to move back from the Mountain West, all the while still getting BYU's sports for everything besides football.
Montana could be looking to make the jump from the FCS Division and into the Bowl Divison. They have done just about everything in the FCS and they could see this move as their chance to make it on the national scene. Boise State made the jump less than 20 years ago and look where they are now! The WAC is a depleted conference football wise and the Grizzlies could quite possibly have a winning record in their first season. They would restore a rivalry with University of Idaho by doing this too. Wyoming would make the move for similar reasons; a chance to play in an easier conference, keep its long standing ties with BYU for all other sports, and create new rivalries with schools such as Montana and Utah State.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the WAC, the 6th oldest conference in the Bowl Division, hopefully it will still be around by the year 2011.