Earlier this month, the presidents and athletic directors of eight Western Athletic Conference schools not named Boise State decided that unity was the best way to ensure the league’s stability. A pledge of allegiance was crafted and, for the lawyers’ sake, an exit penalty of $5 million was included. All agreed to the terms, although now, Nevada’s memory is a bit fuzzy.
The professed solidarity meant little during yesterday’s Ditch-Your-Ash Wednesday, when WAC members Fresno State and Nevada accepted invitations to join the Mountain West Conference. With Boise’s earlier announcement that it would go to the MWC, the WAC will be left with six members, including Hawaii, for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The WAC will have a news conference today, but what’s to announce? That it was fleeced by the MWC? Again. That it still remains a viable conference, even though it is running out of members to turn off the lights? Sometimes when you wait for the dust to settle, you realize you’re standing in … dust.
So let’s speed through the five stages of grief, and point out these lessons:
• Commission all of the studies necessary, but it’s obvious UH needs to compete as an independent in football. Unless there’s a shift in the continents, Hawaii’s isolation is a deal breaker. If BYU opts to remain in the MWC, and the league needs to add a 12th member, the Warriors still aren’t on the invitation list. Word on the boulevard is TCU wants to bring in Houston; New Mexico wants to invite UTEP.
• Boise State is not your friend. Not only did Boise spend the past five years plotting to leave the WAC, it surely served as a reference for Fresno State and Nevada. In the business world, such acts lead to being escorted out of the building; belongings will be FedEx’d to you later. Since we’re all adults here, the only thing to do is keep repeating the tale that birds died diving into Boise’s blue turf. No, it’s not true. But it sure irks Boise officials to keep hearing that.
• Be paranoid. In college athletics, it’s justified.
• BCS conferences — When mid-majors have hold-me-back spats and try to weaken each other, the BCS conferences can go about their business of ignoring the outsiders.
• Fresno State, Nevada — They waited a long time for the MWC invitation; in one dizzying afternoon, their dreams came true.
• Boise State — It was looking bad when the Pac-10 plucked Utah, and BYU said it was considering becoming independent in football and joining the WAC in other sports. But with Nevada and Fresno State joining the MWC, it appears Boise State made the right decision.
WAC — Has any NCAA conference been burglarized this many times?
Hawaii — It has to be annoying that the WAC’s senior member can’t get a sniff from the MWC. Not even travel subsidies or the Hawaii exemption are enough.
BYU — It didn’t get any love when it asked for perks from the MWC. Instead, the league showed that all teams are replaceable when it went out and, well, found replacements.
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