As of next season, the Western Athletic Conference will be down to two members, Idaho and New Mexico State, which means it won’t be a conference at all. This isn’t a development that snuck up on us.
… The league never recovered from the formation of the Mountain West in 1999, which robbed the WAC of its heart and soul in Utah and B.Y.U., among others. The WAC tried to balance out those losses by adding Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Boise State, but with hindsight, it’s clear that the WAC was slapping a Band-Aid on a fatal wound.
The WAC has been on its last legs since 2000; all conference expansion has done is speed up the process, placing the WAC in hospice care as its teams scattered to the Mountain West, Sun Belt and Conference USA…
One of the last schools standing will probably have to head back to the friendly confines of FCS football. It won’t exactly be a commercial powerhouse in its new setting, either.
… Begin with Idaho, which, if I had to wager a prediction today, will be forced to step back down to the F.C.S. as a result of the WAC’s demise. The Kibbie Dome, the Vandals’ home field, is by a large margin the smallest stadium in the F.B.S — 6,000 seats smaller than Bowling Green’s stadium.
Idaho’s stadium is also only the sixth-largest in the 13-team Big Sky Conference, where the Vandals played from 1963-95. This looks like Idaho’s landing spot in 2013, unless the program can exist as an F.B.S. Independent while searching for a new conference affiliation. [Emphasis added.]
Just to make it clear, we’re talking about a program with a facility which is modest by even lower division standards and which only has a future on the level it currently operates if it’s willing to become an even bigger punching bag than it’s already been. Idaho’s got no business being a FBS school, in other words.
And yet Idaho is exactly the kind of program which Orrin Hatch thinks is worthy of receiving largesse from the more successful. Makes zero sense.