Hawaii weighs options as WAC withers
By Fred Guzman
What now? That’s the question facing the WAC in the wake of defections that have left the league on the verge of collapse.
And for all of the strong comments and financial threats directed by commissioner Kent Benson at Fresno State and Nevada, those two schools are history. Boise State, had earlier announced its intention of bolting to the Mountain West.
As Benson, himself, put it: “In a 12-hour period, the WAC went from having a secure and prosperous future to once again not knowing what the future will bring.”
A week ago, the remaining WACschools pledged solidarity after receiving assurances that BYU would join the league in all sports except football. Although BYU would become independent in football, the Cougars planned on playing Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah State on a regular basis.
The agreement included a $5 million exit fee for any school leaving within five years. That deal unraveled and the WAC was reduced to just six teams. Also in question is the scheduling agreement with BYU, which could seek to strike a similar deal with the West Coast Conference or opt to remain in the Mountain West.
So the WAC must now land at least a couple of teams. Among the candidates are the likes of Montana, UC Davis, Sacramento State, Cal Poly, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State. The problem is that none of those schools can truly replace the three departing programs.
Here in Hawaii, there is a lot of hand-wringing and words of recrimination aimed at the defecting schools.
But let’s be real: If the Mountain West had made UH the some offer it extended to Fresno State and Nevada, wouldn’t you have considered it in Hawaii’s best interest to accept?
Isn’t the WAC being disingenuous in whining about losing two members when it worked for six weeks on a plan that would facilitate BYU’s exit from the Mountain West?.
Didn’t the WAC also consider poaching UNLV and San Diego State?
And isn’t Hawaii currently weighing its own options, including staying in the WAC, trying to get into a different conference and going independent, at least in football.
The remaining six schools are no longer bound to the agreement since Fresno State and Nevada left. They are free to leave, as well, without penalty — although you suspect the main reason they are trying to stick together is so they can receive the $10 million combined buyout.
Which only goes to show that there is no honor among thieves … or college presidents when it comes to big-time sports. The only school to show any honor in this mess is Utah State, which was the first school approached by the Mountain West but decided to honor its solidarity pact with the WAC.