By Brendan Loy
In the wake of this weekend’s news that Utah State and San Jose State are probably leaving the WAC for the Mountain West, and Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech are probably leaving for Conference USA, I have obtained exclusive footage of the conversation last night at WAC headquarters in Greenwood Village, Colorado:
In all seriousness, it’s really unclear how the WAC can go forward now. For all my jokes about the mythical “eighth football member,” it appears the WAC is now down to just three football members: Idaho, New Mexico State and Texas State. There don’t seem to be enough viable FBS football options in the western half of the country to make it possible to build from that “base” of 3 back to a respectable size, so it now appears inevitable — barring some eleventh-hour moves that keeps the above-mentioned USU/SJSU/UTSA/LTU quartet from fleeing — that the WAC is well and truly dead, at long last, as a football conference. If so, it seems plausible that NSMU and TSU could end up in the Sun Belt, while Idaho may be the first realignment victim forced to drop FBS football because it couldn’t find a league. The FCS Big Sky, the Vandals’ former home, may also be their future home.
If those three schools depart, that would leave the once-proud WAC with four schools, none of whom are actually members yet as of today: Denver, Seattle, UT-Arlington, and Boise State in everything but football. Could that possibly be the base for a viable basketball/Olympic sports league? Add, say, Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield, and you’ve got…a really crappy conference, but one that’s still eligible for an auto bid to the NCAA Tournament, I think.
But as I see it, the WAC only stays together, even in that shell of a form, if the four remaining schools have absolutely no other viable options. Suppose the WCC rejects Denver and Seattle (again), the Big Sky rejects Boise’s Olympic sports (the Big West already has), UT-Arlington can’t find a home, the Big Sky and Sun Belt aren’t interested in non-football-playing WAC castaways, the Summit League closes its doors or is otherwise deemed a non-viable optios, etc. If those things all happen — and they very well might — the #ZombieWAC is probably going to stay alive, one way or another, no matter how awful it is. The alternative, that case, would be for Denver, Seattle, etc., to break away and form a new league… in which case they might as well just stay in the WAC.
But if the WCC takes DU and Seattle, and/or if Boise State finds a different home for its Olympic sports (or leaves the Big East and rejoins the Mountain West in all sports, in light of the death of AQ status)? BOOM. Game over.