7/15 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The WAC

7/15 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming WAC season. It's the Wednesday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 15

5 Thoughts on the WAC.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt

7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the WAC.

Well, now we all know where the WAC falls in the college football pecking order.

Boise State has earned several dozen benefits of the doubt with a Fiesta Bowl win, double-digit win campaign after double-digit win campaign, and last year, and 37-32 win at Oregon as the crown jewel of a 12-0 regular season. The strength of schedule wasn't that bad, finishing 59th in the nation after the bowls, and most importantly, the Broncos were ninth in the final BCS rankings ahead of Ohio State (10th), Cincinnati (12th), and Virginia Tech (19th). But did they get the final at-large BCS bid? Yeah, right.

Texas Tech, ranked eighth, deserved the final BCS spot, but couldn't get in because of the silly rule that only two teams from a conference can get in, but Boise State was next on the list, with everyone else ranked higher in the BCS. But the Fiesta Bowl blew off the unbeaten Broncos for a two-loss Buckeye team. As a fan, yeah, I wanted to see Ohio State vs. Texas, but on the deserve scale, Boise State should've gotten the call and by not getting in showed what a joke and a sham the entire BCS selection process is.

It's not like Boise State was trying to get into the BCS Championship; it was trying to get into the high end end of the year exhibition, and it should've gotten in. That it didn't showed just how far the WAC still has to go when it comes to getting national respect. That Boise State lost to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl doesn't help the argument.

The league still has problems with the teams on the bottom. New Mexico State, Idaho, and Utah State have to get better, and they're trying, Fresno State has to start winning more of those non-conference statement games, and everyone else has to keep picking up the slack. Nevada has to beat Notre Dame in the season opener when everyone is watching. Louisiana Tech has to come up with another SEC win, after beating Mississippi State last year, and be strong against Auburn. And most of all, Boise State has to beat Oregon ... again.

As long as the league keeps showing up strong in non-conference play, there will be more and more difference makers who'll sit up and take notice. The league doesn't deserve the high-end status that the Mountain West is pushing for, but it deserves to at least get more love in the BCS at-large process.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the WAC.

Try not to allot all of your WAC attention to Boise State this fall. You could wind up overlooking a really entertaining and downright scary team from Nevada.

Yeah, yeah, it’s the Broncos and everyone else in the Western Athletic Conference. The champs have earned that designation and could be this year’s top BCS buster, but the Wolf Pack will also carry the league banner proudly in 2009.

It’s taken Chris Ault a couple of years, but he certainly has the pistol offense firing bullets again. After September, nobody stopped this offense, which scored at least 35 points in 10 straight games and averaged at least 230 yards on the ground and through the air. Colin Kaepernick has become one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks this side of Gainesville, and the backfield has an embarrassment of riches by non-BCS standards. Vai Taua rushed for 1,521 yards and 15 scores last year and wasn’t even on the two-deep when the season began. Like a mainland version of Hawaii, the Pack will score and score and score until the other team just runs out gas. Sure, it’s pliable on defense, but the pass-rushing bookend of Dontay Moch and Kevin Basped is as feisty as any among the mid-majors, and will force opposing quarterbacks into mistakes.

Boise State’s grip on the league remains safe. However, Nevada is a very dangerous team, and the Broncos know it. Be careful Notre Dame and Missouri. The Pack is liable to drag you into shootouts in September that could have you sweating profusely in the final 15 minutes

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the WAC.

God bless Pat Hill and Fresno State for annually scheduling tough teams out of conference. Fresno State aims to build its program and profile the right way, never flinching from an old-fashioned intersectional fight. After falling just short in a 50-42 thriller at USC a few years ago, it seemed that the Bulldogs were set to remain a factor in the college football world, with influence and stature far beyond the San Joaquin Valley.

There was just one problem: The Bulldogs—in language once used by a John Facenda-narrated NFL Films script—“had a Roman appetite for victory but lacked the spartan will needed to achieve it.”

Fresno State still schedules well and takes on all comers, but when FSU settles into conference play, coach Hill runs into a mountain of problems. Fresno football teams have squandered the credibility gained by the program in that eight-point loss at USC, on an electric November night in the City of Angels. Home losses to the likes of Louisiana Tech and Nevada and Hawaii have soured recent WAC seasons, and when FSU had a chance to lock horns with big, bad Boise State last season, the Broncos kicked around the vexed Valley boys, 61-10.

Hawaii—given the impoverishment and geographic isolation that define America’s 50th state—is routinely the most heartwarming story the WAC can produce in a typical sports season (football or hoops), but if WAC football really wants to improve its national profile, Fresno State is the program that needs to join Boise at the big boy table. We’ll see if 2009 produces any positive developments; conference commish Karl Benson is praying for them.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the WAC.

A: Holy non-conference contests, Blue Turfman. The WAC can’t be called chicken with an interleague slate like this. Only Idaho and Utah State fail to play a BCS team with a likely winning record. Although the Aggies do play two of the top MWC clubs, and the Vandals’ September 12th game at Washington could end up looking better if Steve Sarkisian and Jake Locker can get the Huskies going. But outside of the those two, there’s a killer matchup for every WAC squad.

Boise State opens the season by hosting a likely top ten Oregon team. Nevada starts things off in South Bend, in their first ever meeting with Notre Dame. Watch out for an upset there. Colin Kaepernick is the real deal. Louisiana Tech goes on the road to face Auburn in the season opener. Fresno State’s second game is at Wisconsin, and they finish the year at Illinois. Hawaii also has a tough last game hosting the aforementioned Badgers, which could end up being a nice consolation prize for the Badgers. San Jose State’s first game is in the Coliseum at USC. Three of Utah States first four games are at Utah, at Texas A&M, and at BYU. And lowly New Mexico State has a frightening Halloween matchup at Ohio State. Maybe they should come dressed as Florida…

All in all, on opening weekend, the WAC plays five of nine games on the road against likely preseason top 25 teams. Boise State looks like a real threat to bust up the BCS, but it won’t be easy to get past a potentially great Oregon team. And I’d like to give Nevada a prayer of surprising on the national stage, but it’s going to be tough to win at Notre Dame, at Colorado State, and at Boise. The WAC takes a lot of heat for being a weak league, but I’m just impressed at the vigor with which the conference has gone after marquee games. Or at the very least, they haven’t turned down the big boys’ monetary offers.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the WAC.

A: While this league is definitely a cut above the Sun Belt, Boise State has flat dominated the competition to the point where you are only focusing on one team.  Don't sleep on Nevada this year, however.  They are going to win some games that people didn't see coming.  Fresno State has been, in the past, sort of a Boystown, a home for lost souls that didn't get into Cal or USC.  Not surprisingly, chemistry has been an issue and they have not been able to sustain much success, but they still have talent. Hawaii has the travel advantage with teams coming to the island and they get to travel east which isn't has bad in my opinion.  There are some entertaining games, this league seemed to be the birthplace of the wide open era of football we are seeing now, so don't forget to tune in during the regular season...just as long as Boise State is one of the teams on the tube.

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