Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Future Of The WAC, Part 1

With the eminent departure of Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State to the Mountain West Conference, the Western Athletic Conference will be left with just six teams. The WAC is looking to expand back to at least eight teams and become a viable football conference once again. A non-automatic-qualifying conference must have eight teams if it wants to send its conference champion to a BCS bowl, granted that team is in the Top 8 of the BCS standings. There are five FCS schools the WAC has been rumored to be looking toward. Lets take a look at each school’s practicability.
1.   Montana—The Montana Grizzlies are a great fit for the WAC. They have been in the FCS playoffs every year the last seventeen years and are annually one of the best FCS programs. Montana averages 24,417 fans per football game, which easily satisfies FBS attendance requirements. Geographically Montana could be border rival with Idaho. Rumors abound that Montana may not have the financial resources to move up and that it would only move up if it’s rival Montana State moved up as well.
2.   Texas State—The Bobcats have been on a mission to become a FBS athletic program since 2007. They are expected to play their first FBS football season in 2012. Bobcat Stadium is being renovated to seat 34,800, which will easily accommodate the 15,000 fan average a FBS program needs to maintain. Texas State will give the WAC a foothold to recruit out of Texas high schools.
3.   UT San Antonio—Currently, UT San Antonio does not have a football program. They will have a football program starting in 2011 at the FCS level and hope to be in the FBS by the 2014 season. There are no college football teams directly in the San Antonio market, and the Alamodome is a great football venue. Larry Coker will coach the Roadrunners. The clincher here is that the Roadrunners would not be ready to play in the WAC for four years, and the WAC needs teams as soon as possible.
4.   Cal Poly—Cal Poly will go from Independent to playing in the Big Sky Conference in 2012. Cal Poly has a good football program but it is not big enough to make the jump to the FBS. The Mustangs only average 9,588 at their home games. Alex G. Spanos Stadium is too small to fit the 15,000-fan home game attendance average needed to obtain FBS status.
5.   UC Davis—Like Cal Poly, UC Davis will go from Independent to the Big Sky Conference in 2012. UC Davis won the Great West Conference twice in the last five years. The Aggies average an attendance of 9,908 at home games. Aggie Stadium is too small to seat an FBS-sized crowd.
The Big Sky Conference probably made a move on Cal Poly and UC Davis for its own expansion agenda or to still have an adequate number of teams should the WAC cherry-pick Montana and other Big Sky schools. The California schools can be ruled out. Montana and Texas State would be very complimentary to the existing members of the WAC. The earliest the Grizzlies and Bobcats could join would be the 2012 season, but more likely 2013. UT San Antonio could become a member of the WAC if it can get upgrade its football program by 2014. The best case scenario is that the WAC can be back up to nine teams in four years and continue on as a conference.  The WAC has been looking to snatch Seattle University and University of Denver as basketball members in order to keep its automatic bid for the NCAA basketball tournament. Seven teams in a conference are required for an automatic bid. However, the NCAA will allow the WAC to have an auto bid with just six teams for the next two seasons.

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