As if Denver didn’t have enough to worry about on the basketball court, the expected bad news about its planned future conference home has become official: Hawaii is leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West in football and the Big West in all other sports.
Folks, Denver joined a zombie conference.
Hawaii’s departure does more than just rob the WAC of what had been its most glamorous remaining team after Boise, Fresno and Nevada jumped ship (although, that too!). It leaves the conference as of 2012-13, the year Denver is supposed to join, with just five “core” members who have been together at least five years — Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech — and just seven football members — the aforementioned schools plus Texas State and Texas-San Antonio (with Denver joining as a non-football member). Both of those numbers are one short of what the WAC needs for NCAA autobids (six core members) and Football Bowl Subdivision membership (eight football-playing members).
The WAC wants to survive, of course, so it has been actively trying to replace the Warriors. But everyone from Montana to North Texas to UC-Davis has turned down commissioner Karl Benson’s overtures, presumably due in part to the conference’s lack of stability. This has led to the creation of a Brendan Loy Meme (of which this remains my favorite example, although I also really liked this one). But in all seriousness, it’s not clear where the conference turns now, as it tries to shore up its ranks before any further defections take place. The WAC’s quandry is that it needs to add team(s) to demonstrate stability, but nobody wants to join when it doesn’t look stable. As they say (well, as I say) on Twitter, #PANIC!
And further defections are very possible. Utah State has a proud mid-major basketball tradition, making it sort of like a “mini-Kansas” from this past summer’s Big XII drama — the school without much to offer in football, but a ton to offer in hoops. If push comes to shove, somebody will snap up the Blue Aggies; the question is whether they can find a FBS football-friendly home. If they can (hello, 12-member Mountain West?), presumably they’ll take it sooner rather than later — in which case, you can stick a fork in the WAC once and for all.
Meanwhile, one imagines that Louisiana Tech wouldn’t think twice before accepting a Conference USA invite, if one were forthcoming. Then again, if one were forthcoming, it’d probably have come by now, and they’d be gone. But even a Sun Belt invite might start to look good to the Bulldogs if the WAC’s situation doesn’t improve.
Lastly, San Jose State could conceivably drop down to FCS, or drop its football program altogether, given its financial woes as a public school in a bankrupt state. If any of these things happen, the WAC is, almost certainly, well and truly toast. It may be anyway.
Meanwhile, the three “new” members — Texas State, UTSA and Denver — have got to be re-evaluating their options at this point. Will the WCC reconsider its expansion timetable for Denver? If not, would the Sun Belt take the Pioneers back? How about the, um, Big Sky? (!?) And as for the Texas schools, would they return to the conference that just fined them, or do they have another home they could seek out?
A day may come when the WAC fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! Actually, yes it is.
Comments on "It’s official: Hawaii leaves the WAC. Karl Benson: “Braaaaaaaaains.”"
3 Responses to “It’s official: Hawaii leaves the WAC. Karl Benson: “Braaaaaaaaains.””
You must be logged in to comment. (Why?)
Please register with The Living Room Times, or log in using your Facebook, Google, OpenID, Twitter, AOL or Yahoo account, or your existing Living Room Times account.