Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The State of the WAC

The Western Athletic Conference was on the verge of a breakout season. The WAC welcomed Idaho, Utah State, and New Mexico State this year after Tulsa, Rice SMU, and UTEP left for Conference USA. The new configuration left only Louisiana Tech in the Central time zone.

Along with the restructure, the WAC was the only non-Bowl Championship Series conference to have a team(s) ranked in the preseason polls. Boise State was ranked 18th in AP poll and 19th in the coaches poll, while Fresno State was 24th in the AP poll in the preseason rankings.

The WAC introduced a new logo and a new Play Up campaign for 2005. The Play Up campaign was featured in a new commercial during ESPN's college football preview show, but as soon as it started it ended.

Boise State, fresh off three straight WAC titles and three top 15 finishes in the country, opened at Georgia. The WAC's banner program fell apart. The demise of Boise State’s program happened in a matter of hours. Georgia whipped Boise State 48-13, and it was not even that close. The loss to Georgia virtually erased everything, in the eyes of the media, the Broncos had accomplished the three previous years.

Fresno State was 1-0 and ranked 23rd heading into play last weekend. The Bulldogs were the only ranked team from the non-BCS conferences, but the dream of an unbeaten season ended Saturday in a 37-34 loss at Oregon, as did their ranking.

After three full weeks of the season, the WAC has only won three non-conference games. Weber State, E. Washington, and UNLV are the only wins. It is a sad day in the WAC when UC Davis, just a couple years removed from Division II, has more wins over BCS teams than the entire conference.

Play up? The WAC has played down, way down.


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