Texas-Arlington to the WAC

The WAC announced recently that Texas-Arlington will join the conference. What does this mean and who will be next?

With so many defections coming from the western side of the conference, the Western Athletic Conference was bound to shift eastward a little.

After adding Texas State and UTSA last year, Seattle was added earlier this year to kind of balance things out. Football schools are still needed. Texas-Arlington does not provide football, at least not in the near future.

What Texas-Arlington does provide is a fourth team in the eastern section of the league. They provide a travel partner for Louisiana Tech in basketball since they are just four hours down I-20.

The five recent additions to the conference all are teams in or near huge markets. Most have huge student populations. Texas-Arlington also brings a brand new basketball arena to the mix.

New Mexico State and Denver give the WAC a really solid six team eastern division. Seattle, San Jose State, Utah State, and Idaho now need two teams to finish out the west.

Barring any more surprises, you can pretty much count on the last two members being from a groupf of six that consists of Montana, Montana State, Cal-Poly, Cal-Davis, Sacramento State, and Portland State.

Going back to the WAC's recent additions being in or near huge media markets, Sacramento State and Portland State make a lot of sense, It also make a lot of sense to get another team back in California to go with the league's most senior member: San Jose State. Sacramento State already plays baseball in the WAC. Portland State plays football in a really nice stadium that was recently renovated.

Montana declined an invitation earlier, but they might come as part of a package deal with Montana State. The two teams from Montana may be the most ready to make the jump. Montana has great football attendance. Montana State has pretty good attendance in their own right and they are expanding their stadium.

Cal-Poly and Cal-Davis have big enrollments and great academics. They previously declined, but might come as a package deal if they decide they eventually do want to join and they don't want any of the other four schools to join first.

The WAC will certinaly add at least one school by next year. One darkhorse program throughout the whole process has been Lamar. While Texas-Arlington being added would seem to shut the door on the Beaumont, TX school being added; the Cardinals aren't totally out of the race. Lamar is similar in size to Louisiana Tech. They have had a lot of success in basketball throughout their history. They also bring football to the table. The WAC may want to add two more football teams, but only one is needed. If none of the western six teams are willing to come, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson can count on Lamar being ready.

What the new WAC lacks in name recognition from it's programs, it has plenty of potential. These new schools are really big schools and they want to compete at the highest level. They might just take those student fees and go all out in football and basketball. Give Benson credit, he has done a great job in this difficult situation. Most fans left the WAC for dead, but where have we heard that before? Whether a team from Montana or a team from the west coast rounds out the final spot or spots, the WAC is in much more solid footing than a year ago. Things will only get better from here.


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