The Zombie WAC, as Denver aficionado Brendan Loy so affectionately calls the beleaguered conference, seems to be shoring itself up as a viable conference, at least non-football wise. One has to wonder, however, if the WAC can survive without ensuring its future as a football conference.
In a few months, the conference loses football darling Boise State to the Mountain West, a defection to be followed by Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawaii in the summer of 2012.
That same summer, the WAC is set to take on Denver, Texas State, and Texas-San Antonio. Texas San-Antonio, led by former national-champion-winner Larry Coker, will be launching its football program that very season, and Denver does not play football.
Candidates for further expansion are rumored to be Seattle University and Utah Valley University. Both would be decently solid additions to the conference for basketball and other sports, and the move benefits both schools greatly. Seattle is currently competing as an independent in basketball, and UVU belongs to the hodge-podge of the Great West conference. "West" in name only, the conference includes membership of schools in the Dakotas, Chicago, and New Jersey. An invitation to the WAC would be a much better geographical fit for UVU.
But even with that, the WAC as a football conference would be comprised of members Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, and Utah State -- a 7-team conference, with Louisiana Tech rumored as a school who would seriously consider overtures from other conferences in their region if they came calling (C-USA or the Sun Belt).
The question is, what is Karl Benson to do? The Big Sky wrapped up conference expansion of its own, adding Southern Utah and North Dakota as full members, and UC Davis and Cal Poly as football-only members. UC Davis and Cal Poly were thought to be the most viable FCS teams that could make the jump to FBS to join the WAC. Now the WAC's only option for football would either be to start inviting teams that make no geographical sense, or try to poach the Big Sky.
There are two problems with poaching the Big Sky. First, the Big Sky just finished inviting the teams the WAC would be most likely to invite. Second, the WAC as a football conference is anything but stable, so the new Big Sky schools in California might best be served to stay in what will be a conference to be reckoned with in the FCS. If the WAC managed to persuade those teams to come, the football conference would be filled with many lack-luster football programs and FOUR schools making the jump from FCS to FBS.
Does Benson have any tricks up his sleeve? Or may we one day know the WAC as a conference that no longer competes in football?