The WAC is slowly sinking in some quick sand since they lost Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and now Hawai'i. Now, an official invite has not come to Hawai'i from the Mountain West, but that should happen within the month. During that WAC Commissioner Karl Benson has made an offer to allow Hawai'i to be a football only member of the WAC while being in the Mountain West in other sports. That does not seem to be the point, because football is king and the WAC is currently the Jester.
The WAC however does have some ammunition to stay alive as a viable conference for football and basketball since the NCAA will allow the WAC teams -- not the league -- to remain at the FBS level which basically means nothing really changes:
Hawaii's departure would leave the WAC with seven football-playing schools starting in 2012. The conference would not lose its membership in the BCS or the ability play in bowl games. It would, however, lose its classification as a Football Bowl Subdivision conference.
At the same time, it wouldn't be FCS, either - it would be "unclassified" according to Benson. But ... and here's where it gets confusing ... while the WAC itself wouldn't be FBS, the schools in the WAC would be - meaning they would count as FBS opponents for scheduling purposes.
Yes, I think the NCAA may want to preserve the WAC since it has been around for a long time and has a rich history. However, the basketball side would still need a special exemption or a rule change. Currently, a league must have at least six continuing members for five years to receive automatic berths to NCAA championships.
With Hawai'i leaving the WAC to join the Big West that leaves the WAC with only Idaho, Utah State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State; one member short of that rule. There is a rule change making its way up the NCAA ranks to would eliminate this requirement. If that passes then the WAC will be fine in all sports but football.
This is where more expansion rumors come in. The WAC has reached out again to UC Davis who declined the move to the WAC, and the only other member that the WAC is going after is North Texas from the Sun Belt. The thinking is that with University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas State in the WAC it would make the move much more attractive. However, North Texas has declined an invite to join the WAC:
North Texas has told the Western Athletic Conference that it isn't interested in joining, athletic director Rick Villarreal said Monday.
Villarreal said that after consulting with UNT president Lane Rawlins, he told Benson that the school is not interested.
"I told him that while we appreciate the interest, that the University of North Texas is going to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference and work to continue to build the league," Villarreal said.
A move to the WAC would have been a lateral move for North Texas. Yes, the WAC name is better then the Sun Belt but that would in name only, and not on the field performance. Actually, the argument could be made that the Sun Belt is stronger because Troy and Middle Tennessee State are probably better then any of the 2012 WAC teams and at least on par with Louisiana Tech and Idaho. Plus, the Sun Belt is more stable then the WAC and North Texas' decision to stay is to stay in a more stable league and one that is more regional then the WAC.
The bowl scenario for the WAC looks to still be part of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl and they have an understanding -- whatever that really means -- with the Humanitarian Bowl through 2014.
One other move that the WAC is possibly making is to lure TCU's non-football sports to the WAC if TCU goes to the Big East for football only. TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte has said that TCU sports are a sticking together:
"We're an athletic department," he said in a telephone interview with Sporting News. "Whatever endeavor we do, you're united as one. That's who we are. That's how we always compete. We compete as one unit."
That may change once the check is shown to TCU and the fact they would dominate the Big East from day one. Just look at the current polls that have zero Big East teams.
Also, not sure what TCU's non-football sports bring to the WAC. Their baseball team was really good last year, but basketball is just awful. I guess the WAC just wants to add teams to stay relevant.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson is destined to go down fighting:
"The purpose of today's call is to eliminate any of the reports that we aren't going to survive," he said. "This is a very strong statement that the WAC is prepared to move forward and do whatever it takes to continue our operations.
"Benson said the WAC is aggressively trying to pursue another football-playing school. He said the WAC ideally would want to get to a nine-team conference, but his goal now is to get back to eight.
If the WAC loses more schools, Benson said he's prepared with a list of other schools.
May I ask what other schools Benson is prepared to invite for football? Realistically, he has to dip into the FCS level after North Texas and he has already been turned down by Montana and UC Davis. So, good luck with that Benson.
Hat tip: Redhawk