Internet problems that didn’t get fixed until well after midnight caused me to re-print a blog from five years ago (if I post my blog after 11:00 pm Pacific Time, it posts to the next day, meaning everyone on the country can wake up and check out my thoughts while they’re still on their first cup of coffee. If it seems as though I experience an abundance of problems related to computers and technology, it’s more likely than not due to ignorance and apathy, i.e. I don’t know and I don’t care (to learn). Since it was written so long ago, chances are readers have never seen it. Or don’t remember. So, enjoy (again).
Fresno State and Nevada had been not so secretly longing to join the Mountain West Conference ever since the old WAC split and left them out – or in. Becoming part of that league at that time would have a significant move – although for the first few years, the WAC was arguably as good as the newly formed group in both football and basketball.
Now the move has definitely lost much of its luster. First of all, Utah, one of the MWC’s bell cows defected to join the Pac-10 (now that I can understand). The Mountain West neutralized (maybe even upgraded) the loss of the Utes when it plucked Boise State from the WAC. There was talk of the MWC trying to become the seventh BCS conference. A case could have been made for the league if it had Utah, BYU, TCU and BSU but Utah’s defection crippled that idea. Besides, everybody knows all this posturing and positioning is about money and you don’t have to be brilliant in math to know something split seven ways doesn’t yield as much as something divided six ways – not if you’re one of the six anyway.
In what seemed like a revenge move, the WAC devised a plan to pry away BYU from its hated rival league – even though they wouldn’t be joining the conference in football. It seemed a pretty shrewd move. Getting BYU in basketball would upgrade that sport but that wasn’t the reason for “the pact.” It was definitely meant to bring the MWC to its knees. And then, the Bulldogs and the Wolfpack did a 180 and everything went to pieces.
Now, BYU is leaving anyway – to pursue football life as an independent. It will join the West Coast Conference, an 8-team league made up of church-based schools for its other sports. It makes that league even more powerful in basketball (some called the WCC the best league on the West Coast last year). But to try to make a go of it as an independent?
It works for Notre Dame, but BYU isn’t ND – even if it has its own TV network. No matter what television does for the Cougars (they just signed a 6-year deal with the Irish), my prediction is they’re still going to find it extremely difficult to fill a schedule every year (especially in future years since football scheduling is done so far in advance). Because the WAC is down to six teams, all seems to be forgiven and they will (gladly) schedule BYU in football.
But BYU wanted to go independent so it could have a better chance to crack into a BCS bowl and playing WAC schools will badly hurt their RPI. As far as scheduling other BCS teams, once teams get into league play, they’re wary of playing non-conference opponents. Sure, there are off-weeks, but usually coaches look forward to a break in the schedule to get healthy or have additional preparation time for a league rival.
Should the Big 12 (now 10) look to expand, don’t think TCU isn’t at the top of the list – and it won’t take but a phone call to remove another team from the MWC. When it comes to big-time football, you’re either in or you’re trying to get in. Changing positions on the periphery doesn’t really help much. And, when you resort to trying to weaken others, be wary of the line:
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”