'The Project' had to be approached twice by BYU as the turned down the WAC when the offer to join the league came soon after Utah left for the Pac-10. It took a cooling down period for the WAC to reapproach BYU in joining their league in non-football sports, which they did accept and now who knows what they are going to do.
The WAC had much bigger plans then to get BYU to join the WAC they had visions of a twelve team football league and a fourteen team hoops league. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has some good details on the WAC's grand plan. This was much more then just grabbing BYU it involved Gonzaga and teams from Conference USA.
UH was told on June 18 that as a result of Benson's "preliminary discussions with ESPN" the TV rights fees could rise by as much as "300 percent" over the nearly $500,000 per school that is being received now, according to a memo obtained by the Star-Advertiser.
In addition, there was thought to approaching basketball power Gonzaga and, perhaps, one other non-football member for a 14-team basketball league. Moreover, there was hope that Boise State, confronted with the changing conferences, might reconsider its move to the MWC.
The 300 percent increase in revenue would have been huge and put the new WAC on par with what the Mountain West teams get plus the benefit of being on ESPN. The other football schools to be considered to add were UTEP in a trade for Louisiana Tech while also trying to get San Diego State and UNLV, but this all ultimately failed.
The WAC was trying to move a lot of pieces and looked like they were trying to destroy the Mountain West, but the most interesting part of this is how Craig Thompson found out about 'The Project' as it is suspected that it came from someone within C-USA:
Protocol dictated that Benson notify C-USA, which Benson did, calling commissioner Britton Banowsky and informing him of the conversation and possible changes. It was someone at C-USA, people involved surmise, who might have tipped Thompson about the rapidly accelerating moves afoot.
BYU, according to documents, was preparing to announce its move to the WAC on Aug. 18 or 19.
Meanwhile, despite rumblings, Thompson had shown little sign, WAC sources said, that he had connected the dots on BYU's thinking and the WAC's plans. A spokesman for the MWC declined comment on when -- or how -- Thompson became aware of BYU's intentions.
This stuff is made of a soap opera or better yet a Telenovela with all of this backstabbing and maneuvering going on, and the best part yet is that there is still another week of this stuff going on. BYU has until September 1st if they wish to leave the Mountain West to begin play outside of the league in 2011.