Tuesday, October 13, 2015         


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Changes are afoot

Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada are the football favorites in their final season as WAC members

By Stephen Tsai


Western Athletic Conference created the Fiesta Bowl.

It also has been noted that New Mexico State is 2-0-1 in bowl games.

And there was a time when many thought that incoming member Boise State was based in Iowa.

But that was then, and the current reality differs from Benson's hopeful promise that the WAC will rebuild.

The Fiesta Bowl was designed for Arizona and Arizona State, both of whom seceded from the WAC in 1977. Now the Fiesta Bowl is part of the Bowl Championship Series, of which the WAC is not an automatic qualifier.

New Mexico State's last bowl appearance was in 1960, in the Sun Bowl, against Utah State. Both Aggies teams are now part of the WAC's bottom tier.

And Boise State is part of the latest migration to the Mountain West Conference. The Broncos joined this year; Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada earn MWC membership cards next July.

"The WAC has been a petri dish ... and we've grown tremendously as a member of the Western Athletic Conference," Fresno State coach Pat HIll said. "The new schools coming in will grow tremendously. Boise State, when they first came into the WAC, everyone was going: 'Who's Boise State?' It was quite a platform for Boise State, quite a platform for Fresno State, quite a platform for Hawaii, what a platform for Nevada. It'll be a platform for growth. That's what it's all about."

With this year's departure of Boise State, the conference will receive a reduced payout and less coverage from ESPN.

Next year, the WAC will have seven football-playing schools, with the arrival of Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The WAC's number of guaranteed bowls will go from three this year to only the Humanitarian Bowl next year, and that Boise-based bowl faces an uncertain future.

Hill said the changing WAC membership is "just a part of evolution. Everyone changes. Everyone moves. To me, the WAC represents a conference that will fight, and it's a survivor."

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