The Runts Of The WAC Litter
Friday - September 08, 2010
Listening to Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson at his Honolulu teleconference last week, I was struck by the sheer dogged perseverance of the man. He spoke about the future of the conference and the exploratory search committee being set up to find new members. He talked about the great successes of the past and of other glories to come.
Unfortunately, by now, most of us have greater faith in the Tooth Fairy than in the future prosperity of the WAC. Forget who might be enticed to join - let’s just consider who’s left and their attractiveness to Hawaii sports fans.
* San Jose State. An afterthought in their own hometown, the Spartans are largely a program built on junior college transfers, have had little recent success and no marquee player since Jeff Garcia, who wasn’t all that marquee when he was there.
* New Mexico State. Located 42 miles of cactus and tumbleweed from El Paso, the Aggies have been at or near the bottom of the college football world seemingly forever. There is precious little interest in their team even in Las Cruces. They don’t draw any fans and have no tradition. It’s also not a place that Hawaii fans want to visit.
* Louisiana Tech. While the Bulldogs have been good sports about being the lone representative east of the Mississippi, there is no sense of rivalry with Hawaii or anyone else in the conference. Hawaii fans wouldn’t be jacked about playing La Tech even if Terry Bradshaw or Karl Malone still played on their teams. They want out of the WAC, and who can blame them? Add in that getting to Ruston from HNL is typically three flights and a drive lasting the better part of a day, and you see why coaches and players aren’t thrilled to play there.
* Idaho. The Vandals play in what looks like an aircraft hangar that is unworthy of Division I in either football or basketball. Except for last year, their teams in both sports have been awful. Idaho is hard to get to, and Hawaii fans won’t ever be going there. Better chance of getting them to the other Moscow.
* Utah State. This is the forgotten program in the state of Utah. Football teams there have mostly been dreadful, and are clearly third string behind BYU and Utah. Hawaii fans have little interest in seeing these Aggies play.
But you get the picture. There is not a whiff of rivalry with any of these schools, and Utah State and La Tech will leave at the first opportunity. Utah State may be gone to the Mountain West by the time you read this. So much for the resurgent WAC.
At least with the Tooth Fairy you get a dollar under the pillow.
* Although nearly eclipsed by the fabulous Waipio Little Leaguers, Michelle Wie last week looked like a professional coming into her own. She had complete control of her game, putted with confidence and generally exhibited a mature persona. Could be that next year we’ll finally see what many golf experts have been expecting all along. Now with two wins after this Canadian Open victory, Wie may be a frequent visitor to next year’s leader board.
Of course we’re still waiting for her first U.S. victory. Her maiden LPGA win came last fall in Mexico.
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