Nevada & Fresno St. to Join the MWC
In case you missed it last night, Fresno St. and Nevada have agreed to join the Mountain West conference. There were reports yesterday from Andy Katz of ESPN that both schools had rejected invitations from the conference with the potential $5 million exit fee as a concern for both schools.
Many in the media, as well as fans, felt that with the potential BYU departure from the Mountain West, that the conference would be on the edge and forced to merge with the WAC. Such a move would have created a 16 school conference for football that would include a number of schools that the MWC would likely prefer to pass on.
By being proactive and bringing Nevada and Fresno St into the fold, the Mountian West membership now has a level of security with the recent loss of Utah and potential loss of BYU. And while some fans might have liked to see schools like New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego St. simply join the WAC, the moves to the MWC help form an unquestioned #2 conference in the region behind the Pac-10.
BYU now finds itself in a tough spot. They had looked to join the WAC as a home for it’s no football sports. But with the losses of Nevada, Fresno St, and Boise St., the WAC membership now is only: Idaho, Hawaii, Utah St., New Mexico St., LA Tech and San Jose St. There’s hardly the stability there for BYU to feel it’s a safe home for non-football sports.
One interesting option for BYU might be to approach the WCC much harder about membership. The WCC is comprised of virtually all christian affiliated private schools. Adding BYU would give the WCC access to the Salt Lake City market and be quite a coup…if they chose to expand with another member.
The Mountain West conference membership now has the option add one more school to divide into divisions and add a conference championship game depending on what happens with BYU. If BYU does leave, the conference can remain stable at 10 schools.
San Diego St.
If BYU chose to remain and the conference sought a 12th school, Houston and UTEP are rumored to top the list.
Meanwhile, the WAC, now at only 6 schools, is forced to consider it’s own options. They can look towards the Sunbelt, but would likely need to add multiple Texas schools in order to sway those schools from moving. North Texas is likely the top candidate to be approached, as could Arkansas St. If both schools joined, the WAC would be at 8 members. Expected FCS upgrades UTSA and Texas St. could also be targeted to bring the membership to 10. Montana is another FCS program that has been oft mentioned as a WAC candidate. But with the departures of Boise St., Nevada, and Fresno St., a move to the WAC might be less appealing to Montana. With the uncertainly of BYU, Montana could cross their fingers and hope for an invitation to the MWC should the conference find them more appealing than Houston, UTEP, Utah St., New Mexico St, and others.