The goal for any non-AQ conference should be aimed at eventual BCS membership. I think the WAC, suprisingly, may be in better shape than most conferences when it comes to this exciting proposition. The WAC is in a unique position in the West; there are many large, academically elite public schools moving up through Divisions I and II inside the WAC's footprint. While I think outright membership for the WAC is farfetched, I believe the conference has the potential to overtake the MWC sometime in the future.
The first item of Business for the WAC should be to establish a unique conference footprint. To accomplish this, I'd start trying to find a new home for both New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. Both programs stretch the conference footprint and fail to make up for this either athletically or academically. I'd start talks with the sunbelt, conference-usa, or even FCS Missouri Valley or Southland. Not to say that either of these two schools don't add plenty of value, just that they don't fit into the long terms plans of the WAC. I'd be left with:
San Jose State
Secondly, I'd start talks with the MWC about adding Boise State. While the Broncos bring a great football program, I have two qualms with them: 1) Boise's acadmeics are clearly not quite up to par with my standards. 2) Boise's market, school size and endowment doesn't add up to an extended stay at the current level of success. I think they'll cool off a bit in the next couple of years; Boise will post alot more 8-4 or 7-5 seasons than 10-2 seasons.
Boise compares somewhat to the early 2000's Marshall: A university with a good football program and so-so basketball/other sports. In Marshall's case, the school played in a small market, fan support waned, and when the school moved from the MAC to a tougher C-USA, Marshall football suffered. While the man on the street will disagree with me, I think the MWC is the stronger conference and the WAC is Boise's weaker competition. Once Boise moves to the MWC, I think the 8-4 and 9-3 seasons that Boise would have produced in the WAC will translate into 7-5 and 6-6 seasons in the MWC.
Another advantage of convincing the MWC to take Boise now is that the MWC becomes less likely to take our star school, Fresno State. After living through the horrid experience of the WAC-16, I think it's unlikely the schools of the MWC will be looking at divisions anytime soon. This means that the expansion likely stops at ten, leaving only one spot open for a WAC school. Given time, the MWC should realize that Fresno is the best canidate to fill the tenth MWC spot. If we can convince the MWC to take Boise, we've increased our chances to keep the WAC's most developed athletic program and the largest market. California State-Fresno is the conference's star pupil, NOT Boise, and as commisioner, my duty is to do everything in my power to keep them.
Before I convince the MWC to buy into Boise's success, I must shore up our conference in case of unexpected expansion or schools dropping football. I'll add the two best canidates from the Big Sky: Portland State and Montana. This would call for some upgrades in the athletic departements; both teams would be required to submit a ten-year plan to A) expand their athletic budgets to 13M and B) expand their staduims to around 25,000. Montana adds another state flagship university, while Portland State is a large public in a media market lacking FBS or even FCS competition inside its metro area. All this and to boot, Oregon and Oregon State are located 100 miles away in different media markets. Portland State is also already a DR/U and working hard to move up to Tier 3. I'm now left with:
San Jose State
And while we're on the topic, my other goal as WAC conference commisioner is to instill some minimum requirements to become a WAC conference member. First, I would ask that every school release a ten year plan towards a 25k stadium if it hasn't already. Due to low funds and a struggling football program, I'd make the University of Idaho an exception to the rule. I would start talking to the state of Idaho about going half-in on a renovation of the kibbie dome. I'll point to Idaho's success as 1-AA program, and their prominence as Idaho's statewide school. I won't ask the legislature for much money, just enough cash to fund an increase from 15,000 to 20,000 seats plus a million or so to renovate the basketball facility. Idaho will construct a payment plan over the next ten years and pay the state through athetlics revenue; to help Idaho pay off the loan I would suggest the university ask the student body to approve a 100$ ammendum to tuition per student/year; whilst kickstarting a massive fundraising program amoung prominent Idaho alumni. Secondly, I would ask each school to release a similar ten year plan to gradually increase thier athletics budget to 18 million. I think the whole conference has the potential to reach this milestone.
I believe the WAC would be wise to follow the MWC and C-USA strategy, building up the conference with large publics in large markets lacking a BCS level school. However, what separates the MWC from C-USA and WAC is that the MWC has a dominant school in their two largest markets: Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. My goal as commisioner is to balance this desire with improving the WAC's shoddy academic reputation. However, schools such as these are a rare find; as commisioner, it would be my duty to take chances on programs far away from D-I in hopes they'll pan out. After Portland State and Montana have become full members, my next major step in expansion is to approach the University of British Columbia and California-Davis for either full or part time membership to the WAC.
British Columbia's transition to D-II should close to complete in approximatley the time it would take for Montana and Portland State to complete thier upgrade to FBS. UBC has stated that they would like to start out atleast two of thier athletic programs in Division I. I would do everything in my power to land UBC as a conference associatie member for those sports, one of which is likely to be baseball . As an associate member, UBC would not have to fufill the commitments required of a full-time WAC member. As an incentive for UBC's addition to the conference, I'd guarentee a home for Simon Fraser should they ever want to move a WAC-sponsored program to Division 1 FBS. When/If UBC moves to full Division I, the rivalries and familiarity with the WAC should make the transition to a full-time member an easier task. UBC not only brings a huge student body, a gigantic BCS-free market, spotless academics and a staggeringly huge endowment, but it also brings the WAC more publicity in the national media as the first NCAA D-I FBS athletic conference with a presence in Canada. If all goes well, I think British Columbia can bring full Division I membership to the WAC between 2025 and 2030. Until a suitable stadium is found, I would encourage British Columbia to rent out BC Place staduim, which is state-of-the art, and seats 60k. If the deal is sucesssful, BC's rented staduim would be the most state-of-the art staduim in the WAC. The staduim is currently home to the CFL's BC Lions, but I believe the young football program could work around the professional team.
As a more short-term goal, I'd talk to California-Davis about membership in the WAC. California-Davis is a perfect storm for a California athletic school: They are located in a college town (Davis) only 15 miles away from a major media market with neither NFL or BCS prescesne. While Davis might as well be invisible in Sacramento as a D-1AA school, I think revamping the football and basketball programs will attract signifigant attention from the big city. I would not be asking for a miracle from the school, only to bring around 10% of the Sacramento market. UC Davis has more money, more students, and better academics than nearby Sacramento State. As a bonus, if UC Davis fails to entice attention from Sacramento, they still have the town of Davis to fall back on, as well as a large student body. I would offer UC Davis full time membership in everything but football, with football coming later once the school upgrades their staduim. If everything goes to plan, California-Davis and British Columbia should be members in all sports around 2030.
As commisioner, I would insititude another requirement for conference membership around 2020. All teams in the WAC would now be required to release a second ten-year plan; this time increasing seating to 30,000, with basketball arenas increased to around 10,000. I would let Idaho be the exception to the rule, as they would only need to meet basketball requirements. With its large student body and great financial support, I believe UC Davis can reach this goal. If British Columbia can reach an agreement with BC Place the school should be fine. Because Davis and British Columbia are still new to FBS, I would give them an extra five years to fufill staduim requirements, with only 7,000 required for Basketball. As a requirement for conference membership, each school would release a ten year plan to increase athletic budgets to 23M. As new D-1 members, Davis and British Columbia would recieve an extra five years on these increases.
To make Davis and British Columbia feel at home, I would invite two of thier major rivals for part-time, non-football membership: University of California-San Diego and Simon Fraser. Simon Fraser and San Diego are young schools that reside in major metropolitan areas, with SF in Vancouver and UCSD in San Diego. Both schools bring spotless academics, growing erollments, and UCSD would bring a terrific olympic sports program. I would eventually ask both schools to achieve FBS football, but that will still be 10-20 years down the road. Until then, I'd encourage both programs to play as non-scholarship D-IAA(A), preferably in the pioneer league (or whatever reeincarnation that league is in). As non-football members, both schools would be required to have 13M athletic budgets and 10k basketball staduims within ten years of joining the WAC (not alot to ask in either case).
Final Product [approx. 2030]:
San Jose State
Major meto areas [where WAC is dominant]:
San Joaquin Valley 1.5M
The City and County of Honolulu 1M
Areas where WAC recieves limited exposure [c.10%]:
San Diego-Tijiuana 5M
San Jose 7M
Las Vegas 2M
Salt Lake City 1.5M
Minor WAC markets
So, would our advanced WAC be a BCS-equivilent league? First, the major markets under WAC control in Northern California, Hawaii, Reno and Canada stack up very well to modern-day MWC markets in Las Vegas, Salt Lake Ciy and Albequerqe. As a bonus, if UC-Davis can win over half or even a forth of Sacramento TV sets, the WAC has very sold claim to about a forth of california between Davis, California State-Fresno, and Nevada. The recruiting benifits of this are enormous for league on the fringe of the BCS.
From the markets above, the WAC could pull about 7.8 Million TV Sets, in markets with the potential for 28.1 M tv sets. As a added bonus, the WAC also brings five state flagship schools: Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, British Columbia and Nevada, and four Tier I academic schools [or Canadian equivilent]: British Columbia, Simon Fraser, Cal-San Diego and Cal-Davis. Plus, every school in the conference except for California State and San Jose State is DR/U [or equivilent]. As an added bonus, a D-I UC-San Diego could very well become the dominant non-BCS school in the San Diego market; eclipsing the MWC's San Diego State. If the MWC loses most of its exposure in California, the conference would really suffer. Most of the schools also house large enrollmets and endowments:
school (enrollment) [endowment]
British Columbia (43,579) [1.01 Billion]
Simon Fraser (30, 4220) [183 Million]
UC Davis (30,475) [651 Million]
UC San Deigo (26,427) [525 Million]
San Jose State (28,932) [44 Million]
California State-Fresno (21,000) [100+ million]
Portland State (24,284) [34 Million]
Hawaii (20,644) [142 Million]
Nevada (15,146) [240 Million]
Utah State (23,623) [110 Million]
Idaho (11,251) [177 Million]
Montana (13,961) [8 Million]
The real question is this: could a conference of schools new to Division 1 or FBS levels of competition become a mid-major powerhouse? Most of the succesful schools and markets of the old WAC remain in place, and the conference would make major strides both in academics and exposure. Our 'New WAC' would have the clout to obtain a TV deal on the level of the current day MWC, a conference that fields competition that is between the BCS 6 and the non-BCS schools. As the MWC has a football slant to the conference, I think our WAC has a basketball slant, as schools from this group will be new to D-I Football even in 2030. I could see a basketball league on level of the Atlantic Ten, with a school in the top ten every other year. Nevada is already a basketball powerhouse, Utah State and Hawaii are solid WAC schools, while Idaho, British Columbia, UC San Diego and UC Davis could all be WAC basketball powers in waiting. The future is bright in our new-and-improved WAC.
Last edited by thelurker on Mon May 12, 2008 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.