Hawaii Caught Big Break in Escaping WAC
By Fred Guzman
Where is an already cash-strapped University of Hawaii athletic department going to find the $1.2 million annually required to fund travel subsidies, when UH leaves the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West in football and the Big West in most other sports?
Irresponsible as it might sound: who cares? We’ll worry about the expensive details later. The important thing is having fortunately bailed out of a sinking ship as Boise State, then Fresno State and Nevada, and, finally, Hawaii received – and gladly accepted — invitations to join the Mountain West.
Without those four respected programs, the WAC is left with San Jose State, Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech for the 2012 football season. The two additions in football, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State , don’t currently field FBS teams. That’s Division-I-A for you old schoolers. That leaves the WAC as a repository of unwanteds and never-going-to-bes.
According to Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis, the likes of Louisiana-Monroe, Lamar, Sam Houston, Cal Poly, UC Davis, Montana and Montana State all rejected overtures to join the WAC.
If you are a fan of UH football, be very thankful that Texas Christian accepted an invitation to join the Big East, a move that defies geographic logic. But TCU’s move opened the way for UH to sneak into the Mountain West in football and avoid the irrelevance that would have ensued by remaining in a decimated conference.
So what if UH is not quite sure how it intends to pay for all of this? Hawaii had only one viable, if expensive, option and gladly – and wisely — embraced that opportunity.
Staying in the WAC would have meant significantly smaller crowds at Aloha Stadium for league games against third-tier teams. Going independent in football represented a huge gamble given the realistic concerns about being able to put together a 13-game schedule.
Fortuitously for Hawaii, it was thrown a life jacket by the Mountain West, not to mention a raft for most of its remaining sports courtesy of the Big West.