BYU declares football independence

September 1, 2010, 8:59 PM HST · Updated September 1, 8:59 PM
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By Fred Guzman

It was the worst possible scenario for the Western Athletic Conference generally and the University of Hawaii specifically. And although the news was hardly surprising, that didn’t make it any less painful.

BYU is leaving the Mountain West Conference, going independent in football and joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.

BYU originally agreed to join the WAC in all sports and go independent in football. But that was before the Mountain West countered the move by inviting WAC members Fresno State and Nevada two weeks ago, joining Boise State in making the switch.

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So how does this move impact the WAC and the UH going forward?

The WAC, as we know it, is virtually dead. The final nail in the conference’s coffin will be nailed if the Mountain West extends and Utah State accepts an invitation to join the league. That would reduce the WAC to five schools, dropping the league below minimum standard for automatic qualification for NCAA tournaments..

UH would be best served by following BYU’s lead, going independent in football and seeking to join the Big West in all other sports.

Going independent is risky, for sure, particularly when it comes to scheduling mid-season games. But risky is better than the alternative. Namely, remaining in a decimated conference that will have to recruit current Division-I-AA schools in order to increase its membership.

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