Conference Watch Back On As Nevada, Fresno State Join Mountain West
The Brett Favre saga ends, another one starts back up. It was announced last night that Nevada and Fresno State will leave the WAC for the Mountain West conference – news that just so happened to come on the same day as loud rumors that BYU might leave the Mountain West to become a football independent – and join the WAC in other sports.
The Mountain West’s commissioner, Craig Thompson, said the league made the moves because the league is “simply looking at getting better,” but it’s hard not to see this as a pre-emptive strike in case BYU, one of the league’s top programs, moves on.
If BYU does stick around, Nevada and Fresno are solid additions. Both teams went 8-5 last season and have been solid programs over the last decade – Nevada’s had a winning record four of the last five years, while Fresno’s posted a winning mark in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
But neither makes up for the potential loss of BYU, which is 43-9 over the last four years and has regained stature as a top program nationally. Combined with the already-official loss of Utah to the soon-to-be Pac-12, the Mountain West has lost a lot of star power this offseason.
It’s still, however, in a better position than the WAC. The Mountain West already raided the league once this offseason (for Boise State), and the latest attrition will leave the league with six programs. That means the WAC better do some quick maneuvering of its own, or face obsolescence.
We’re just slightly disappointed the Mountain West will never be what it could have been. A league with Utah, BYU, TCU, and Boise would have had to get an automatic BCS bid for its champion.
As it stands, the Mountain West is still good – but only for a non-BCS league. The current power conferences still run the show, and as long as that’s where the big money is, they’ll continue to. Any non-BCS school that gets an offer will jump on it – and with the Big 12 still teetering, more poaching is always possible. We avoided any sea changes this summer, but we wouldn’t count on this relative stability lasting.