The University of Hawaii’s last Western Athletic Conference football schedule will apparently be a little longer in arriving.
Targeted to be out by March 1, the schedule is being held up, in part, by Nevada, which is trying to soften up its fall lineup of opponents.
Officials said Nevada is currently scheduled to play three potential top-20 teams — Oregon (Sept. 10), Texas Tech (Sept. 24) and Boise State (Oct. 1) — all on the road in succession and would like to drop one of them.
Until Nevada completes its schedule and the Nevada-Fresno State and Boise State-Fresno State games are placed for ESPN, the WAC and UH schedules are in limbo, WAC officials confirmed yesterday.
ESPN, which annually seeks to frame a late-season presumptive WAC title pairing, has interest in the Nevada-Fresno State game to fill that spot this year. In 2007, ESPN placed the UH and Boise State game in that slot, and in 2008 it was Boise State-Fresno State. In both 2009 and 2010 it was Boise State-Nevada.
This year ESPN also has an interest in the Fresno State-Boise State game, which is a Bulldogs’ home game and will be a nonconference game since the Broncos will debut in the Mountain West Conference.
ESPN is also said to be looking at the Warriors’ games against Colorado (Sept. 3) and Brigham Young (Dec. 3). In addition, UH’s games against Fresno State and at Nevada are possibilities, but indications are decisions on whether to show those matchups could be made within 12 days of the games.
One thing is for certain, however, WAC officials say, the conference will have significantly fewer TV games. Associate commissioner Jeff Hurd said the contract called for a minimum of 10 games on ESPN or ESPN2, plus an additional four on ESPNU. But with Boise State’s departure, ESPN has the right to redo the contract and Hurd said, "Without knowing the exact numbers yet, our appearances are going to be reduced from the past and they are going to be reduced, I think, dramatically."
UH, Nevada and Fresno State are expected to get the bulk of the appearances the WAC does receive, but will not share in the money since schools leaving the conference forfeit revenue in their final year of membership. Last year WAC schools received approximately $400,000 each from the ESPN contract, a figure that is expected to be cut by half or more with Boise State’s departure.