UH decided to leave the WAC before, it appears, WAC commissioner Karl Benson will leave the WAC (reportedly for the Sun Belt Conference), and upon reflection, these soon-to-be exes had a good marriage.
Sure, Benson has absorbed the heat for the misfortunes that probably will lead to the downfall of the WAC, at least as a football conference. But he was acting within the parameters set by the school leaders who often made decisions that minimized Benson’s bargaining options.
But Benson has always been good to UH. He played a role in the creation of the Hawaii Bowl. He never made UH pay for travel subsidies. And when the Warriors had problems filling out the 2007 schedule, he tried to find opponents. When that failed, he set the schedule that built its way to the showdown between UH and Boise State, a dramatic part of the Warriors’ unbeaten 2007 regular season. He even created an All-WAC category — best unit — to honor Colt Brennan and the UH receivers. (That category was discontinued after that year.)
Every time a team would depart, it was up to Benson to find a replacement. That wasn’t easy, especially with the limited number of football-playing schools in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. He added Boise State when many in the country thought its campus was in Iowa. He added Nevada and Utah State, and most recently, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. Trouble is, it’s difficult being a Billy Beane counter when the Mountain West is the Yankees, poaching away the WAC’s best free agents. It was a couple of years ago when Benson had a plan in which BYU would jump to the WAC as a non-football member. It would have triggered a domino effect in which the WAC would emerge as the superior conference to the MWC. Of course, Nevada and Fresno State freaked out by jumping to the MWC before the plan could be finalized. Yes, folks, that’s the lesson: Never count on Nevada and Fresno State to be wingmen.
By any means, Benson is not a perfect commissioner. But he is a friend to UH.
* * * * *
Happy birthday to truegreen.