Written By: Steve Macy, NM State Associate Athletic Director
On Saturday night, I watched as San Jose State beat Louisiana Tech in the last nationally-televised WAC football game. It was surreal, sad and emotional as I shared text messages with former and current WAC commissioners, former SJSU AD and former La Tech AD. We all watched from afar, but our thoughts were similar in realizing that something great was ending.
I worked in the WAC office from 1994-2007, before moving to Las Cruces. There were some great times, but also some trying. I will never forget the day of the announced creation of the Mountain West and the split of the league of 16 into two eight-team conferences. Nor will I forget when Nevada and Fresno State elected to leave the WAC, rather than building it with BYU as a member.
But, I will also more fondly remember watching LaDainian Tomlinson make light of the UCLA defense in the Sun Bowl, enjoying three teams ranked in the top 12 in 1994, the incredible inaugural WAC football championship game in Las Vegas between two ranked teams (#5 BYU vs. #24 Wyoming) in 1996, an SI cover for Fresno State and David Carr, and of course, the first WAC team to play in a BCS game was one of the greatest games ever played, as Boise State beat Oklahoma in overtime at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
There have also been some great players to come through the WAC. TCU’s Tomlinson was one of the greatest running backs ever, but so was San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk. BYU”s Ty Detmer won a Heisman Trophy, but the WAC produced so many great quarterbacks, it is near impossible to list them all. Want to be amazed? Go to the WAC website and read through the WAC media guide and see the names of the QB’s that played in the league.
The quarterback domination really came to light last Monday night in the post-game show on ESPN. Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick started that night for the 49ers and thrilled their fans as much as he had done for Wolfpack fans over his four year career (and provided nightmares for the rest of us in the WAC). Sitting with this WAC great, were studio host Stuart Scott, and two other WAC QB’s in BYU’s Steve Young and Fresno State’s Trent Dilfer. Amazing to watch a national TV program like that and to have three WAC QB’s at the table and all three garnered at least one WAC offensive player of the year award.
As an Aggie, I am proud to see things like Chase Holbrook’s 2006 season listed as the fourth-most yards ever thrown by a WAC QB, Taveon Rogers last year having the second-most all-purpose yards in the history of the league, and Jimmy Cottrell recording 25 tackles in one game and 179 in a season, both marks the most ever by a WAC player.
On December 1, New Mexico State travels to Texas State to play the last WAC football game ever. I am happy that I will be there, but know that I will have a heavy heart at the final play. In a tough season for the Aggies, I am hopeful that on this final day we receive the smallest of consolations: that the Aggies will be the positive answer to the trivia question of which school won the last-ever WAC football game.