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With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:07 am
 
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It is, by many accounts, all but a foregone conclusion: This Thursday, University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks will join the WAC in all sports but football. Their addition gives the venerable-but-reeling league 10 members total but still only seven for the 2012-13 football season.

UTA won't make it eight. The Mavericks gave up football in 1985 and, according to the Texas board of regents' agenda, "UT-Arlington’s invitation is not conditioned on starting a football program.” So why are we mentioning this development in this space rather than leaving it to our sister Eye on College Basketball blog?* Because UTA's addition nevertheless has the potential to dramatically reshape the reeling WAC's identity as a football conference -- either for the better, or the (even) worse.

A breakdown of both scenarios:

SCENARIO 1: Maybe the Mavericks haven't been interested in football before. But WAC membership might change the equation, thanks first to the bump in television money and exposure, and secondly to the natural rivalries UTA would enjoy with fellow FBS start-ups UT-San Antonio and Texas State. The Mercury-News's Jon Wilner reported this week that UTA "believes there’s money to be made in the FBS and in the WAC."

If the Mavericks do decide to take the plunge, Wilner outlines a possible dream future for the WAC. With three different guaranteed opponents in nearby Texas, Louisiana Tech (and its potentially wandering eyes) would be mollified; North Texas might look at the number of Texas brethen available in the WAC (not to mention the Bulldogs) and jump ship. The WAC would then be able to bring aboard another basketball-only member to reach 12 schools total, while still offering its nine football programs a clean eight-game round robin. And if commisioner Karl Benson could lure away a prominent FCS program like Montana, so much the better.

Unfortunately for the WAC, that scenario isn't nearly as likely as ...

SCENARIO 2: UTA might have better prospects for a hypothetical football program than before, but that doesn't mean the Mavericks are rushing into anything. "I don’t have any indication they have plans to add football," the commissioner of the Mavericks' former home, Tom Burnett of the Southland, told the San Antonio Express-News. "If they do decide that, it’s just a bonus for the WAC." The Express-News added that a second source indicated UTA football "has not been seriously discussed."

If that's the case, Benson may have some unhappy campers on his hands. Both Utah State and Louisiana Tech have made no secret of their desire for new football-playing members sooner rather than later, with the geographically outlying Bulldogs specifically asking for one closer to their Ruston home. If Benson can't convince the Mavericks to add football or find a Central Time Zone football school by the 2013 season -- and we're not sure if there's any realistic quality candidates out there, unless you count other Southland question marks like Sam Houston State -- Tech could decide to cut their losses and head for the Sun Belt. At that point, with just six football schools, the WAC would be on the edge of unraveling.

The good news for Benson is that Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde expressed hope this week for the WAC and downplayed the Sun Bell speculation, citing -- of all things -- the Sun Belt's academics. Like the Bulldog fan quoted in that Shreveport Times article, Van De Velde is likely holding out hope that the Big East's expansion dominoes could open a spot for Tech in Conference USA.

If the Big East looks somewhere besides UCF (or the other C-USA schools rumored to be under consideration), though, Van De Velde's hand may be forced; will his school really want to remain in a conference with weaker competition, less exposure and substantially greater travel costs?

Though it remains to be seen, we're skeptical. Thursday's UT-Arlington addition could be the start of the WAC's new Division I foothold ... or the final flailings of a league destined for the FBS history bin.

*Which you really ought to be reading as well, and don't just take our word for it.



Comments

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:29 pm
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

North Texas to the WAC?  When pigs fly!  As the WAC membership unfolds, it is clear that the Sun Belt will emerge as a (not much) better football conference than the WAC.  And we have 3 schools within driving distance already - ULL, ULM, and AKST.  When LA Tech comes to their senses, then it will be a nice western division.
I never said that North Texas would join the WAC.  All I said is if the WAC wanted to survive as a football conference then it would need to go after some Sun Belt schools.  I am not sure LA Tech wants to rejoin the Sun Belt anyways because everyone knows it has its heart on joining C-USA.  C-USA could still be a possibility especially if several schools leave for BCS conferences or Marshall decides it wants to be more competitive and rejoins the MAC.  If LA Tech does decide to rejoin the Sun Belt then it will only be as a last resort.   



Since: Jan 20, 2009
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:44 pm
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

Right above the sun belt conference is the correct answer.



Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:28 am
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

North Texas to the WAC?  When pigs fly!  As the WAC membership unfolds, it is clear that the Sun Belt will emerge as a (not much) better football conference than the WAC.  And we have 3 schools within driving distance already - ULL, ULM, and AKST.  When LA Tech comes to their senses, then it will be a nice western division.



Since: Nov 11, 2008
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:10 am
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

It looks t me like WAC wants to be a superconference.  Hopefully UT-San Antonio can recruit well in the San Antonio area to boost up the morale in San Antonio when it comes to college football especially when the Spurs aren't playing.  Go Runners!



Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:29 am
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

In all honesty, I think the WAC should seriously look at adding 2-3 more football schools.  I look for C-USA to add Louisiana Tech and the MWC to add Utah State eventually.  If the league is still around then BYU might be a possible candidate; especially if it doesn't like being an Independent for football or in the WCC.  If the WAC wants more central teams then North Texas, Arkansas State, AR-Little Rock (who would need to start a team, but already have a built stadium), UL-Lafayette, and UL-Monroe are the only possible FBS candidates.  None of these teams would boost the strength of the conference, but the WAC may not have much of a choice if it wants to survive as a football conference.

The problem most conferences face is over expansion (in terms of area) in an effort to boost revenue.  By over expanding the conference runs the risk to where it is no longer cost effective, especially when factoring in non-revenue sports, to be a member of that conference.  Personally, I think there should be 4 regionalized non-AQ conferences (excluding MAC and Sun Belt).  The WAC would be made up of the west coast schools (CA, HI, & NV).  The MWC would be made up the mountain schools (ID, UT, CO, WY).  The Southwest Conference (SWC) or Metro Conference (whatever name you want to call this new conference) would be made up of southwest schools (NM, TX, OK, AR, LA).  C-USA would be made up of the remaining southeast/east schools (TN, KY, MS, AL, FL, NC, WV).  Most of these schools don't have large budgets for travel, so I could see another split within the WAC and a return to a more regionalized conferences. 

If the WAC is no longer a football conference then it will be interesting to see what happens to the other sports.  I do think there is a possibility that the schools could decide to play as an independent.  However, I think a more realistic future is they are absorbed by other conferences or decide to drop down to FCS.



Since: May 26, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:19 am
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

If Louisiana Tech wants a football playing school added to the WAC closer to Ruston, then the WAC should add Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Lamar supposedly has interest in eventually going to the WAC since they have the cash and recently resurrected their football program. 


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