The Daily Aggie :: 06/14/11 :: WAC Expansion Update

The WAC will make an expansion announcement today (Tuesday) at 2:00 p.m. (MT). Seattle University, Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield all made presentations to the WAC Board of Directors on Monday according to a report by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.

With just seven nine members remaining after the 2011-2012 season and just six seven of those representing football playing schools, the WAC needs to add schools and in particular football playing schools. The unfortunately situation for the WAC is that there are no viable football playing schools to add. According to Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Advertiser, the WAC's overtures to FBS and FCS football playing schools continue to be rebuffed. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt), Lamar (Southland), Sam Houston State (Southland), Cal Poly (Big West headed to Big Sky), UC-Davis (Big West headed to Big Sky), North Texas (Sun Belt), Montana (Big Sky) and Montana State (Big Sky) area all schools which have reportedly declined the WAC overtures due to either a better situation (see ULM, UNT, Montana), are headed to a new conference (see Cal Poly, UC-Davis) or simply aren't in a situation financially or otherwise at this time or in the next two years to make the jump from from FCS to FBS (see Lamar and Sam Houston State).

In the case of Louisiana-Monroe and North Texas, the reason is simple. Why leave the Sun Belt for the WAC when after next season the Sun Belt will be a better league than the WAC with more bowl tie-ins and (theoretically) cheaper travel. The WAC has been interested in the four Big West/Big Sky schools since the first round of expansion but the Big Sky made a preemptive strike (presumably aimed at the WAC) and did some conference expansion of their own adding several schools including UC-Davis and Cal Poly (possibly in an effort to keep Montana and Montana State from deciding to pursue FBS status) with the stated mission by Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton was to make the Big Sky a "major player in football in the west."

So where does that leave the WAC? In a tough predicament for sure when it comes to football, for the remainder of the sports, it's a mostly positive situation. Most, including ourselves, believe that Seattle University is a shoo-in for this round of expansion and should be a great addition to the league should they get the invite (plus it would give the WAC three of the best road trips west of the Mississippi in Seattle, Denver and San Antonio). The question becomes, who will be the second (or third) teams to receive the invite. Commissioner Benson has stated many a time that ideally a 10 team basketball and nine team football league is ideal for scheduling purposes so who becomes the 10th team?

Will Utah State "block" Utah Valley as has been rumored by various media reports? Is Cal State-Bakersfield an easier addition to the WAC than Utah Valley because of their current independent status (similar to Seattle who is an independent)? The other factor for Utah Valley is the impending demise of their current conference, the Great West. The league will take a huge hit with North Dakota, South Dakota, Southern Utah Cal Poly and UC-Davis all leaving the conference and Houston Baptist looking to possibly start an FCS football program and join the Southland Conference. At the very least they will fall from 10 members to just five. But we digress.

Should Seattle and Bakersfield get the nod, you could pair SJSU with Bakersfield, Utah State and Denver, Idaho and Seattle, New Mexico State and UTSA and then Texas State and Louisiana Tech (or some combination pairing the latter four). You get the picture. It makes sense for the league to add two schools now even if they're not football playing schools.

The other option could be that the WAC not invite anyone or perhaps just invite one of the three teams? Could Seattle, Bakersfield or Utah Valley have football in their future? We'll get our answer to at least some questions today.

Comments

You state that the WAC will

You state that the WAC will have "seven members remaining after the 2011-2012 season and just six of those representing football playing schools". This is incorrect. They will have nine schools and seven will play football.

You are correct, too many

You are correct, too many defections and additions to keep track of!