State of the WAC: What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong?
So what else could happen?
Here’s a look at a few direct scenarios in which other conference invite current WAC schools as well as the “trickle down” effect in which subsequent conferences seek WAC schools as replacements:
Mountain West: If TCU leaves the MWC, the conference could expand by (2) to get to 12 from a pool including Utah St., Houston, UTEP, SMU, New Mexico St.
CUSA: seeks 1-2 replacements from Sunbelt & WAC
Sunbelt: seeks 1-2 replacements from WAC
If TCU leaves, the MWC could remain at 10 for football with Hawaii and 9 for all other sports. But then again, they could expand to 12 with two more schools and stage a conference championship game, as sources today are claiming. Fox recently agreed to a $25 million a year deal with the Big Ten to televise their championship game. If the MWC could get even $2 million from FOX, it might justify further expansion.
If the Mountain West expands, they have a number of options. Utah St. remains high on the list to replace some of the market loss of the BYU and Utah departures. Houston seemed like a top option and remains it as long as TCU is still a member. But without TCU in the conference, there might be less of a desire to expand east. Then again, the MWC could replace TCU with both Houston and SMU, maintaining some access to the Dallas market via SMU and gaining some exposure in the Houston market. And if CUSA loses 1-2 schools, the trickle down starts again. CUSA would again consider Temple, as well as schools like North Texas and LA Tech. And if CUSA brought in North Texas, the Sunbelt might then bring in LA Tech and or New Mexico St. Even UTSA and Texas St. could be on the radar for the Sunbelt or even CUSA at that point.
Final Tally: WAC could lose 3 of it’s 7 football schools
Mountain West: If TCU remains in the MWC, the conference would have 11 schools and could bring in Utah St., UTEP, or Houston as the 12th member;
CUSA: seeks 1 replacement from Sunbelt of WAC
Sunbelt: seeks 1 replacement from WAC
LA Tech & NMSU say enough is enough and head to Sunbelt; Sunbelt supplies lifeline to UTSA and Texas St.
It might not be so much of a stretch. The Sunbelt is currently set to be 10 football members with the addition of South Alabama’s football program. 14 is not the ideal number, but in adding the (4) WAC schools, the conference would be positioned well for a future CUSA raid. They would also be able to divide into (2) regional divisions:
East: FAU, FIU, USA, Troy, MTSU, WKU, Arkansas St, *UALR (if they aren’t in the Southland or Summit by then)
West: NMSU, North Texas, UTSA, Texas St., LA Tech, ULL, ULM
Big East Expansion: Adds UCF or Houston and TCU
CUSA replaces UCF with 1 school from pool of North Texas, NMSU or LA Tech
MWC replaces TCU with Utah St. or Houston from CUSA
Sunbelt: replaces departing school with 1 WAC replacement
Final Tally: WAC down to potentially 3 football members
Big East Split & Expansion: if Big East expanded to 12 after a split from the basketball schools, that might include up to 3 CUSA schools such as UCF, Houston, Memphis and ECU.
CUSA: replaces 3 departing schools with 3 from WAC and Sunbelt
Sunbelt: replaces and departing schools with WAC schools
TCU and Villanova appear to remain at the top of the Big East wishlist in their planned expansion to 10 football schools. But if Villanova passes on an upgrade, the Big East will look at Houston (regional partner for TCU) or UCF. And if the Big East was real bold and expanded to 12 schools, you could see Memphis in the mix as well as perhaps ECU. It would seem that if the Big East expanded to 12, CUSA would have at least 3 openings. And the candidates are all the same names: North Texas, LA Tech, UTSA, Texas St., NMSU, Arkansas St., etc. The WAC would likely lose schools directly to CUSA and indirectly as others flee for the Sunbelt.
Final Tally: WAC down to only Idaho, SJSU and Denver.
There are a number of different scenarios that could play out…too many different permutations to include in one spot. But one thing is clear: there are WAC schools, that even during these dark times, are poised to have future options.
The foundation is being built right now for what seems to be a minor consolidation of schools in various regions with the MWC movement these past few months and the Big East looking to expand from 8 to 10. The new schools added to these conferences might not come directly from the WAC, but the WAC’s placement at the bottom of the trickle down order means they are likely destined to have future membership changes. For schools like Idaho, they’ll just have to hope that the consolidation sticks to the regional trends.