Radical Realignment 2007: W.A.C.

It is the time of year for "reorganizing the universe once again" by radically realigning college conferences in Division I-A football, this time based almost entirely upon geographic proximity.

After introducing the catch-all Conference U.S.A., I started on the opposite edge of the continent, out in Kanu country, where I outlined the new Pac-10 before proceeding eastward.

Kanu . . . the man, the myth, the cat I'd like to hang out with if I could envision any even remotely realistic scenario that would ever in a million years cause me to get anywhere close to California. I mean, seriously . . . me, the guy Orson Swindle called an "unfrozen 1983 caveman lawyer and Lewis Grizzard wannabe," in California? I just don't see it happening, dude.

Since my ingrained 10th Amendment predisposition toward respecting state lines is a key component of this year's edition of radical realignment, I have clustered together four bordering states just this side of the Pacific Coast, plus the Aloha State, to form the new Western Athletic Conference, which looks a little bit like this:

Arizona
Arizona State
Boise State
Brigham Young
Hawaii
Idaho
Nevada
U.N.L.V.
Utah
Utah State

These 10 teams hail from five states and their linkage seems perfectly natural, as all of them are current or former W.A.C. members: Arizona and Arizona State, from 1962 to 1977; B.Y.U. and Utah, from 1962 to 1998; U.N.L.V., from 1996 to 1998; Hawaii, since 1979; Nevada, since 2000; Boise State, since 2001; and Idaho and Utah State, since 2005. In many ways, this conference arrangement merely restores the natural order in the region by lumping five of the top 10 non-B.C.S. teams from 2006 in the same league.

I mean this in the most complimentary way possible.

Doesn't it just make sense for Nevada-U.N.L.V. and Utah-Utah State to be conference rivalries? Given where they are now as programs, wouldn't it be exciting to see the Sun Devils, who attended five Fiesta Bowls in their last seven seasons prior to bolting for the Pac-10 (where A.S.U. has attended two Rose Bowls in 29 years), competing with the Cougars, who attended 11 Holiday Bowls in their last 21 seasons prior to bolting for the Mountain West (where B.Y.U. has posted five records at or below .500 in eight years)?

Even though last year's non-conference meeting between the Broncos and the Utes failed to live up to the preseason hype, wouldn't an annual league tilt between the team that went undefeated and crashed the B.C.S. party in 2004 and the team that went undefeated and crashed the B.C.S. party in 2006 be something to see? Certainly, there would be some smack-talking between the two.

Admit it . . . putting these two on a collision course with one another would be fun, and you know it!

Plus which, there is room for some real mascot nastiness in the new W.A.C., from the feline (Cougars, Wildcats, and Wolf Pack) to the equine (Broncos) to the downright dangerous (Runnin' Rebels, Sun Devils, Vandals, and Warriors) to the outright odd (Aggies and Utes).

This reorganization of the Western Athletic Conference would retain the W.A.C.'s reputation for offensive fireworks while building a more balanced and competitive league whose champion clearly would receive a better postseason berth than the Las Vegas Bowl. As an added bonus, this reconstitution of the league would put the "Western" back in "Western Athletic Conference," as the W.A.C. would consist of teams that all consider Colorado a beneficiary of the East Coast bias instead of shoehorning a team from Louisiana into a conference in which it clearly does not fit.

Coming soon . . . the revived Big West.

Go 'Dawgs!

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