We'll just call this the "The What The Hell Just Happened Edition". We apologize for not getting the 2010 Aggie Volleyball Preview posted this morning like we'd hoped, we got sidetracked by this whole BYU/Fresno State/Nevada ordeal.
In less than an afternoon's time span, the WAC went from potentially bolstering itself overall as a league (minus football of course) to wondering it it'll survive (again) after the sudden (but not really so sudden if you read the tea leaves) departure of Fresno State and Nevada.
If you've been following us this summer, you know that we broached this very subject back in June when the Pac-10 invited half the Big 12 but only ended up with Colorado. Here's what we wrote in June 14th's Daily Aggie.
Everyone will be waiting with bated breath this week as Texas (and in turn the rest of the Big 12 south) makes its decision on which conference it will end up in. Earlier in the day ESPN.com was reporting that Texas was leaning toward the Pac 10 only to change that report a couple of hours later reporting that Texas is leaning towards staying in a 10-team BIg 12.
The latter could actually be more disastrous for the WAC than a mass exodus by the Big 12 south to the Pac 10. Why? Because the Pac 10, at 11 members needs to add one more to have a championship game in football (which was probably part of the goal to begin with, championship games mean more television money). That means that they would likely turn to Utah to fill the 12th spot in the league. That move could in turn could send the Mountain West back to the WAC cupboard to fill a couple more spots (it's our belief that the Mountain West wants to have 12 teams and a championship game in order to try to earn an automatic BCS bowl bid). That would mean that the MWC would likely try to pluck Fresno State and Nevada from the WAC and perhaps Houston (a travel partner for TCU) from Conference USA (who in turn might try to get Louisiana Tech to join to replace Houston, a bid that if offered would be hard to turn down for Louisiana Tech as C-USA is a better geographical fit for the Bulldogs than the WAC is). That would leave the WAC with just five members, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Idaho, Utah State and Hawai'i and in code-red status.
Three-fourths of that scenario has come true. Now it's the Mountain West who is in the same position as the Pac 10 was, an 11-member league looking for a 12th. Hello Houston? Goodbye LA. Tech?
Here's what MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said on June 17th:
“Our intention is to move forward for the 2011 season with a nine-member conference. We are done. Parroting what fellow commissioners in the Pac-10 and Big 12 and to a degree in the Big 12, I think our endeavor in expansion is over for the time being.”"
And our response to that in the June 18th Daily Aggie:
We would caution WAC fans to take Thompson's word with a grain of salt however. This is the same league that last Monday had a press conference stating that they would not be inviting Boise State to join the Mountain West, only to turn around and invite Boise State a few days later.
We're afraid it's just a matter of time before the WAC loses Fresno State and Nevada (and Louisiana Tech for geographical reasons).
Now, here's why this is bad for the schools that are left holding the WAC together:
According to some quick research done late last night by Kyle Whelliston (MidMajority.com) in order for a league to maintain it's automatic bid status for the NCAA Tournament a conference must have: a) 8 teams. b) 7 core members (Division I for at least 8 years); c) 6 of those must be in the same league for at least 5 years.
Kyle points out that the current 2011-2012 WAC setup would fail rule a). And if any one of Idaho, NMSU, Utah State, Hawai'i, Louisiana Tech or San Jose State leaves, it fails rule c).
The thing that is really troublesome is that regardless of who joins the WAC to replace Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada, should any one of the six current remaining schools leave the WAC, the WAC will still fail rule c).
And after chatting back and forth with Coach Spence last night, he believes the same rule applies to women's basketball as well. The same could hold true for volleyball and soccer, in baseball's case, from previous discussions with head baseball coach Rocky Ward we know that you have to have at least six members to maintain your automatic bid status on the baseball side and the same is likely for softball as the league had been a seven team league before Boise State's inaugural season two years ago.
There have also been reports stating that in order for a conference to be a BCS member, you need an eight team minimum membership. We haven't been able to find anything that officially states that, however, that's even more troublesome for the WAC. Given the scenarios we laid out in our June 12th and June 14th Daily Aggie posts, the WAC could be stuck at six football members for at least the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Again, we don't know the specifics of being a BCS conference (and for some reason can't seem to find any documentation online) but could that mean that the WAC is shut out of receiving any BCS monies for at the very least 2011? Quite possibly.
What's also a bit concerning is that the $5 million pledge of solidarity that each of the eight remaining members were reported to have signed, according to reports in the Reno Gazette-Journal and Fresno Bee, neither one of those schools may have signed it. So, not only is the WAC losing two of its key members, it could also have nothing to show for it.
Now, as for BYU, the school that may have started this whole mess. We wrote yesterday afternoon about the benefits of their potential membership in the WAC. Well, it's still not official that they are joining the WAC at all (although it never really was, everyone was just going off of reports from sources). There are now thoughts that they could be staying in the Mountain West with the addition of Fresno State and Nevada.
The WAC will be holding a press conference at 11:00 a.m. MT this morning to address the Fresno State and Nevada departures. We'll let you know what is said.
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