The reports of the death of the Mountain West Conference have been greatly exaggerated—and I mean greatly.
A day after BYU all but announced its intention to leave the Mountain West for the Western Athletic Conference and be an independent in football, it’s the WAC that’s suffering after a raid by its former allies.
The Mountain West has announced that Nevada and Fresno State will become the newest members of the conference beginning in either 2011 or 2012. No timetable has been set for either program’s inclusion.
“The addition of Fresno State and Nevada further enhances the Mountain West Conference,” commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “Our Board of Directors has continued to be diligent and aggressive in executing our strategy for positioning the MWC in the national landscape. We are excited to welcome these two institutions into the Mountain West. Both fit geographically and create new Conference rivalries.”
The Wolf Pack and the Bulldogs become the second and third team that the Mountain West has taken from the WAC this summer. Boise State was the first, when it accepted a bid in June.
Because there has been no official announcement from the BYU camp, the Mountain West currently stands at 11 teams. And as it stands, it’s a pretty good football conference.
Not only do TCU and Boise State bring BCS credentials to the table, but Fresno State has been one of those non-BCS programs that have been knocking on the big show’s door for years.
Nevada is another program that is on the rise. Since bringing the pistol offense to the WAC in 2005, the Wolf Pack have had four winning seasons and were crowned conference champions in their inaugural season in the WAC.
If BYU stays, that’s a fifth potential BCS-crashing program, adding to the fuel of the Mountain West obtaining an automatic qualifying berth into one of the five BCS bowls.
The ball is definitely in the Cougars’ court, who have not made an official announcement of their intentions.
“We do not know what BYU will be doing,” Nevada president Milt Glick told the Salt Lake Tribune’s Jay Drew.
In terms of basketball, the Mountain West adds a program in Nevada that fills the void of losing Utah. The Wolf Pack made four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 2004-2007 and won the regular season WAC crown five straight years from 2004-2008.
Nevada made an appearance in the NIT last year.
The Wolf Pack’s inclusion came with the aid of in-state rival UNLV, according to Glick.
But that’s not the only in-state rivalry that can occur. With the addition of Fresno State, San Diego State now has an in-state rival as well.
The question is the Mountain West done? After looking like it was on life support last night, the conference is alive and well with these two additions.
But will it stop there?
Rumors are circulating of the Mountain West now eyeing Houston to join and collect almost every non-BCS team that has a chance of crashing the BCS.
“I wouldn’t see us totally done at 10 teams,” UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood told the Las Vegas Sun’s Ryan Greene.
So, the Mountain West only has 10 teams? I guess Livengood thinks that BYU is gone.
But we’ll have to wait and see.
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