The Western Athletic Conference has announced that it will fold as a football conference after the 2012 season. According to news that is coming out today, the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference said that it has become apparent the league will not have enough football members to compete after this season. They have decided to focus now is on trying to keep the conference together for other sports.
What was once considered a pretty powerful college football conference has now been so decimated that they will have to fold. The WAC dates back 50-years, and will be the first Division I conference to give up football since the Southwest Conference was dissolved back in 1995. While the WAC is going to try and stay afloat using other sports, there is a good chance that the conference will dissolve altogether, just like the SWC ended up doing.
So right now, here is where everyone is, and how it may play out after 2012:
New Mexico State would have to join Idaho and play as an FBS independent next year. The WAC’s five other football members — Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas State, Utah State and Texas-San Antonio — leave the league after this year.
San Jose State and Utah State are joining the Mountain West. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio will join Conference USA, and Texas State will go to the Sun Belt in 2013.
As most of us know, the big boys from the WAC have already gone. Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii have all left and will be a part of the Mountain West Conference (save Boise State who is off to the Big East). This is just the latest blow in a series of ever changing college football conferences. We have seen some major teams shifting conferences over the last couple of years and may continue to see more in the future.
“It doesn’t mean we’ve given up on the idea of football for the future, but it’s apparent we don’t have enough members in 2013 to play football,” Jeff Hurd told The Associated Press.
The WAC would need to add 6 FBS programs to continue playing football, and that seems very unlikely.
“The bottom line is those numbers are not out there,” Hurd said. “So, my goal is to add enough schools to maintain the conference in all other sports, but football would not be one of them.”
The WAC was originally formed in 1962 with six schools — Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. All of those schools jumped ship long ago. Colorado State and Texas-El Paso were also long-time members that left, leaving the league with a hodgepodge of smaller schools.
The high mark of the WAC’s football existence was BYU’s national title in 1984 under coach LaVell Edwards. Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer won the league’s only Heisman Trophy winner six years later, and Boise State had two unbeaten seasons (2006, ’09) in its nine-year stint as the league’s heavyweight. Hawaii also had an unbeaten season in 2007, before falling to Georgia hard in the All State Sugar Bowl.