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College football: An early look at replacements for Boise State
Current WAC membership
Here’s what the WAC’s membership will look like in 2011-12 if it doesn’t add additional institutions.
» Fresno State
» Louisiana Tech
» New Mexico State
» San Jose State
» Utah State
Boise State’s possible replacements
Boise State’s move to the Mountain West Conference leaves the WAC with eight institutions. WAC commissioner Karl Benson said the board of directors will work to find a replacement. Here are some schools that would likely be on the WAC’s radar, in no particular order:
» The Aggies are a member of the FCS (formerly Division I-AA), but they have a strong academic record and they’re in one of the better markets (Sacramento) among possible replacements.
» The Wildcats, also an FCS school, are annually very competitive – they nearly beat Colorado State in football last year – and they would give the WAC a strong travel partner for Utah State. The schools are about a half hour apart.
» You could say the same thing about the Eagles that was said about Weber State, although EWU’s travel partner would be Idaho, which is about 45 minutes from Eastern’s Cheney, Wash., campus.
» Another strong FCS football school, the Mustangs got a vote of confidence from Fresno State football coach Pat Hill in 2008, as did Sacramento State and UC Davis: “Those are three universities that have very solid football programs and, in time, I really believe they’ll be a part of the (WAC).”
» The Hornets haven’t been especially successful in the two revenue sports – football and men’s basketball – in recent years, but they are in a strong geographical position and would make for easy travel for Nevada, Fresno State and San Jose State.
» The Grizzlies are perhaps the most attractive possibility, but it would probably take some convincing to get them to move to the FBS. Montana has balked at such opportunities in the past. If a second WAC school were to leave (Louisiana Tech?), the WAC might be able to convince Montana and Montana State to come on board.
» The WAC has long wanted be in the Los Angeles market, and the only way it can happen would be to invite a school such as Irvine and convince it to start football (the same can be said for Cal State Fullerton, but Irvine gets a nod in academics).
» The Thunderbirds’ best chance of garnering attention from the WAC will occur if a bunch of other schools turn the WAC down.
» The Tigers are a long shot, having given up football in the ’90s. Pacific has strong academics, a strong basketball program and good women’s sports, but they would have to be willing to bring football back to join the WAC.
» Adding the Vikings would give the WAC a connection to the Northwest and a strong media market. Portland State, though, has struggled mightily in football, and former Nevada defensive coordinator Nigel Burton took over as head coach after the 2009 season.