WAC Adds Three Teams, Waits on Montana

The Western Athletic Conference will go to nine teams in 2012 with a goal of eventually going to ten teams. Would twelve teams be too many?

The WAC today is a marraige of convenience for most of the member schools. When expansion discussion began, teams like Hawaii and San Jose State seemed to favor west coast teams like Seattle, Cal-Davis, or Cal-Poly.

Louisiana Tech and possibly New Mexico State favored central time zone teams such as Texas-San Antonio and Texas State.

Cal-Davis and Cal-Poly decided to remain as FCS teams for the time being so the Texas teams were added. Denver was also added as a non-football member.

Montana, the most desirable candidate, is still deciding if they want to make the jump. Seattle would probably get the tenth spot should Montana pass.

With the huge distance between schools and the ever growing costs of runing a FBS program, it appears the WAC should try to move past ten to twelve teams with an eye toward dividing the conference for good.

Should Montana join, Seattle and Sacramento State should be invited by 2014. That would give the WAC twelve teams, with six teams in each division. For football, there would be ten teams.

Having twelve teams would protect the league a little from being in it's current situation (six teams) in the near future. Also, it lays the groundwork to divide the conference into two leagues.

Hawaii, San Jose State, Idaho, Montana, Seattle, and Sacramento State could decide to break off and persuade Cal-Davis and Cal-Poly to form a more west coast oriented WAC.

North Texas, Arkansas State, and Louisiana-Lafayette have been mentioned in the past as WAC candidates, but they always seemed to be disinterested because of the travel. The three schools might join Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Utah State, Denver, Texas State, and Texas-San Antonio in a more southwestern oriented conference.

One interesting school that might fit in with a more southwestern league is Wichita State. The Shockers dropped football in 1985, but they have a 30,000 seat stadium. Wichita State last competed in the Missouri Valley for football along with New Mexico State and North Texas, so there is a history there. Wichita State would also bring more credibility to the league as a basketball league, with schools like Utah State, New Mexico State, and Louisiana Tech coming over from the WAC.

Most of the schools mentioned have been in conferneces with each other before. Utah State and New Mexico State were recently in the Sun Belt for football. In the 1990's, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State, and Louisiana-Lafayette were in the Big West for a few years. The Big West didn't work back then, mainly because there were so many western schools adding travel costs to the central time zone teams.

THose west coast teams mentioned previously, Cal-Davis, Cal-Poly, and Sacramento State would lessen the travel burden on Hawaii and San Jose State, while Montana and Idaho would renew their football rivalry. Seattle would be a good natural rival in basketball for Montana and Idaho, as well as the teams from northern California. This proposed league would still not be complete with just eight teams. One or two additional teams would need to be added to make things work out in the long run, but it's a solid start.

In the opening of the article, I mentioned the WAC is made up of teams looking for a place to belong. Denver, Texas State, and Texas-San Antonio make a good start that looks like a to be continued process. The next step will be to see what Montana decides.

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