In the middle of February Karl Benson left the helm of the mighty WAC conference, put on his Sun Belt hat and settled in for the long haul. The former MAC and WAC commissioner then promptly stated, that he wanted the Sun Belt to expand to 12 teams, to be able to have a championship game and to be able to compete for TV revenue. The 12 - 16 team model is officially in full swing, as the MW has realized a number below 12 is completely untenable as well (if CT and the boys had only realized that in, say... 2003?). The Big XII hurt its own chances at a shot at the title, because it didn't have at least 12 teams and a championship game.
What few have realized is that he (Benson) is, a full two weeks later, still listed as the WAC commissioner, with full contact info. Compare this to the MW, where there is no contact (email) info for the commissioner (and just try calling him). The Sun Belt commissioner wasn't scheduled to leave until April 1st. So why, if these commissioner moves are usually done with as much overlap as possible, is there still no interim commissioner or even news of a search? In quotes from Benson's press conference with the Sun Belt from Troymessenger.com, Benson addresses the issue:
On handling teams currently in the WAC…
“One of the reasons that we are trying to move my position with the Sun Belt earlier than later is to address that exactly. This is a time of uncertainty and there are many moving parts with the Conference USA-Mountain West merger ongoing and the announcement they made on Monday that they are now officially moving toward that. I know that the WAC board of directors has met a couple of times to establish a transition period, a transition plan, and I will expect that they will be making an announcement soon regarding that.”
That was on February 16th, yet he is still shown on the WAC website as being commissioner. Is he still working both jobs? Benson says: "Move my position...." Does this imply that he is simply waiting for the WAC teams to be added to the Sun Belt, effectively just moving over to the Sun Belt / WAC? As commissioner of both conferences he would have the authority, because it has already been granted by the WAC Board of Directors. Or is it that he was made aware of plans by the MW / C-USA to absorb the WAC, agreed to by the WAC Board of Directors, and that there would not be a reason to change the commissioner but to drop him, because it is a fait accompli: the commissioner position wouldn't exist anymore as there would be no conference.
Beyond this, what is the WAC board's transition plan? Transition into what? The Sun Belt? The Alliance? Into Oblivion? There are no career postings for the position as of yet, and if the WAC is in survival mode or trying to go it alone, there would need to be an interim commissioner, such as senior associate commissioner Jeff Hurd who has been with the WAC since 1985 (staff listing), until a full time replacement can be found.
Whichever way one chooses to look at this information, it seems odd that there would be about six weeks (from February 16th - April 1st) for Benson to be announced as commissioner and making plans for the Sun Belt and still be commissioner of the WAC. Two weeks notice is over today, so maybe it will change soon, although one would think Benson put that in when he took the job well before February 16th. In a time when the member institutions of the WAC are probably wondering what the future of conference realignment holds for them, it seems odd that Benson wouldn't be immediately dropped and an interim put in place, to keep up the appearance of stability (if that can even be done at this point). Depending on how you look at it, this could mean nothing at all as it could be a simple oversight, or it could be a hint at things to come.