Maui Sports

Hawaii in Thick of WAC Football Race

November 4, 2011, 4:44 PM HST
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By Fred Guzman

Just in case you haven’t noticed — and it’s easy to do when so few games on free TV — the University of Hawaii is in the thick  of a football title race in its final season in the Western Athletic Conference.

After escaping Idaho with a sloppy 16-14 comeback victory last week, UH returns home for a key WAC game against Utah State on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., and the game will aired live on KNUI AM-900.

Nevada leads the conference with a 3-0 record.  Hawaii and Louisiana Tech are next at 3-1.  Nevada is idle this week before hosting UH the following Saturday in a game that could end up deciding the WAC title.

The Wolfpack is moving to the Mountain West Conference — along with UH and Fresno State – effective next fall.  Nevada shared last year’s football title with Hawaii and the departed Boise State.

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The Broncos made the move to the Mountain West this season, but apparently won’t be sticking around for long.  The Idaho State Board of Eduction has given Boise State permission to pursue admission in the Big East for the 2013 season.

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Seemingly on the verge of collapse as a football conference following the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12, the Big East has extended invitations to Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members, as well as Houston, SMU and Central Florida for all sports.

There’s a key caveat in Boise State’s anticipated move.  The Broncos want assurances that the Big East will create a six-team western division for football.  With Air Force, Houston and SMU, the Big East still needs a pair of new western members to accommodate the Broncos.  San Diego State, currently in the WAC, is openly lobbying the Big East for inclusion.

That’s raised speculation that the Mountain West will have to again dip into the WAC to fill out its membership roster.  Utah State, San Jose State and Idaho are the logical candidates to make the jump in an ongoing game of musical conferences that has taken place throughout the nation.

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By waiting a year, Boise State will not be subject to any exit fee to leave the Mountain West.  Air Force also is likely to follow suit, which explains why the Big East is holding exiting members Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the letter of an agreement that members must give a 27-month warning before leaving the conference.

The rule was written to make leaving difficult.  Ironically, three schools that favor of that condition are now trying to get around it.

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