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Foiled WAC Coup Could be WCC Gain

Category: Editorial, Featured News, WAC Expansion & Realignment, WCC Expansion & Realignment

As I’ve covered in the past few articles, it’s been turbulent times for the WAC and Mountain West conferences. The series of developments resembled that of a national government coup in a developing country. The WAC was on the verge of bringing in the strongest MWC school, despite excluding football, and about to deal a serious blow in the balance of power that had been tipped in the MWC’s favor. 

Utah St. assumed that the rest of the WAC-de-résistance were united in their coup on the Mountain West, and turned down the riches being offered by MWC leader Craig Thompson. But in the dead of the night, WAC compadres Frenso St. and Nevada left the WAC base-camp to defect to the Mountain West. 

And with those 2 defections, BYU no longer had it’s cushy political asylum in a united WACtopia.

Fast forward a few days and we’re still waiting on BYU. 

What are they to do?

BYU has (3) real options now:
1) remain in the MWC for all sports (since the MWC will not permit them to remain a member without football)
2) join the less than stable 6 team WAC for non-football sports, comprised of Idaho, Hawaii, SJSU, LA Tech and NMSU.
3) join the WCC for all-sports, and go independent for football

WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich has stated that the WCC would indeed be interested in bringing in BYU. With the WCC being comprised of Christian private schools, it would be a good general fit from a cultural standpoint. All the current WCC members reside in easily accessible western US markets such as Spokane (Gonzaga), Bay Area (St. Marys, USF, Santa Clara), Los Angeles (LMU & Pepperdine), San Diego & Portland.

And if the WCC were to expand to 9 schools with BYU, then it would make plenty of sense to add a 10th school for basketball scheduling purposes. 

Denver has long sought a better home than the Sunbelt, but they have had few options. All of a sudden, the WCC would be a quite attractive potential option. The WCC has yet to make a big push for Denver at this point, but in adding the private school, they’d be gaining access to the Denver market along with the Salt Lake City, Utah addition through BYU.

Seattle has been seeking an invitation to the WCC since they upgraded back to Division 1. But the WCC has not looked to expand. So perhaps if the WCC did add BYU and sought a 10th school, Seattle might get the pick over Denver as they keep the footprint west of Spokane/Salt Lake City.

And then there is still the WAC.

BYU could still chose to join the WAC, even it there would be only 7 basketball members. 

But the WAC could use the opportunity to bring in the other two regional schools seeking new homes: Seattle and Denver. While both schools are private and fall outside the typical state school culture of the WAC, both schools would give the WAC the Seattle and Denver markets…and a life vest to retain the NCAA basketball bid.

One thing is for sure: the WAC coup failed and the remaining 6 schools are trying to recover. They have very few options right now other than hoping for current FCS schools to upgrade, a process that will take years to happen. they can reach out to the east with schools such as UTSA that will be looking for a home soon. But the ideal schools, all FCS schools like Portland St., Sacramento St., UC Davis, Cal Poly and Montana are still years away from upgrading. 

Until that happens, the WAC needs to do something. And while the idea of the WAC having to reach out to a Great West school or D1 independent like Seattle seemed like a stretch just a week ago, it’s the reality now when it comes to available options.

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  • I suspect $4 or $5 gasoline would improve everyone's thinking. UTSA and Texas St. are talking to the WAC.

    In all this discussion, no one seems to be thinking about expenses. UTSA wants to send its volleyball team to San Jose for a Tuesday night game. Hawaii will send its women's basketball team to San Marcos for a Saturday afternoon contest. Dumb.


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