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Withering list of WAC candidates

Posted September 9, 2010, 08:02 PM HST
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By Fred Guzman

Even after an opening week of the college football season during which its members went a respectable 6-3, the news was not good for the crumbling Western Athletic Conference.

The highlight was third-ranked Boise State’s dramatic 33-30 win over No. 10 Virginia Tech on prime time national television.

Fresno State rallied for a 28-14 win over Cincinnati, which played in a BCS bowl game last season, while both Hawaii and Utah State gave respectable accounts of themselves in defeats to nationally ranked foes.

UH played No. 14 USC tough in a 49-36 loss at Aloha Stadium, while Utah State scared No. 7 Oklahoma a in a 21-14 loss.

But that didn’t stop two more schools from striking their names off a list of potential expansion candidates for the crumbling WAC.

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UC Davis and Cal Poly will remain at their current competitive level, each announcing plays to join the D-I-AA Big Sky Conference for football and keep their other sports in the Big West.

The WAC, faced with the impending losses of Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada, has been studying expansion options. The addition of the two California schools bolsters the Big Sky in case Montana opts to move to the WAC.

Montana, Portland State, Sacramento State, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State are the most likely candidates for WAC expansion. All would have to be invited by the WAC to begin what would be at least a two-year process for D-I-A membership. The NCAA currently has a moratorium on movement to D-I-A.

The harsh reality is that the WAC has withered to a point that UH would be better off seeking independence in football rather than wasting its time asking for the assistance of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in their bid to secure a conference home for the athletic program.

Hawaii officials should instead ask the influential Inouye to intercede on their behalf to secure long-term, home-and-home series with the three service academies. That’s because Sen. Inouye is the senior member of the Senate committee that oversees the armed forces.

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