I have yet to listen to the teleconference from Craig Thompson and have only glanced at the twitter-sphere for a few minutes as I pried myself away to go out to dinner. As of present time Nevada and Fresno State are going to be part of the Mountain West and will join the league either in 2011 or 2012.
This really puts a damper in BYU's plan to go independent in football and join the WAC in all other sports, but there is a life line out there with the WCC who has inquired about adding BYU to non-football sports. Going to the WCC may be the last resort for BYU, because the WAC is struggling to field a league at this time, because with the departure of Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State that leaves them with six football teams and only seven football teams.
Both fall below the criteria of eight teams which is required to be a NCAA conference, and that really hurts BYU in basketball because they would be left in a league that would not have an auto bid to the NCAA so what is the point of leaving the Mountain West for the WAC.
If Fresno and Nevada are able to join the Mountain West in 2011 that leaves the WAC a few weeks to find two replacements by the end of the month to get back to eight teams in football. The reason there is speculation about 2011 or 2012 is that the deadline is July 1st for a team from the WAC to leave and begin play the following year.
This seriously puts a damper on BYU going independent in football as well as the rest of their sports in the WAC. Why would BYU stay in a league that does not have an automatic bid for basketball to the NCAA tournament. The WAC is in serious trouble with our without BYU so why would the Cougars go down with a sinking ship that has zero future.
My bold prediction was sent out in a tweet a few hours ago:
I think this is a real distinction that BYU comes crawling back to the Mountain West which puts them at eleven teams, and that is an odd number for football which is why another team will be added and that team should be Houston. The WAC was caught off guard by the leaving of Fresno State and Nevada, and now are in a scramble mode. Not sure what Karl Benson will do because there are not many teams to add.
The only choices are perhaps some FCS teams such as UC-Davis, Sacramento State, Montana, Montana State, or perhaps UT-San Antonio. Two teams is what the WAC needs and they may need to add those teams this week if Fresno and Nevada are able to enter the Mountain West in 2011.
This all has blown up in BYU's face and they may be forced to head back to the Mountain West. They may try to get a better deal with the Mountain West, but do they really have any chance of doing that under these circumstances. This is the only for BYU to save face and not be stuck in purgatory and it makes the most sense.
One thing that is rarely mentioned about Craig Thompson is being proactive and that is what he has been the past 24 hours. He went from having the Mountain West being a run of the mill league to at least being a viable 10 team league and a good chance of brining BYU back to the Mountain West. All he has to do is go out and get Houston to be their 12th team which will get them a title game and back on track to becoming a BCS league.
UPDATE: Apparently a six team basketball WAC league can still receiver an auto-bid from the NCAA, adding BYU gives them seven.