The lower tier conferences decided to get all their fun out of the way in the last 12 hours, with the MWC and WAC duking it out for non-automatic qualifier supremacy. It looks like the MWC not only won, but may have struck a death blow to the WAC.
The WAC just went from possibly raiding the MWC to be robbed blind by the MWC. A six team football conference would cripple the WAC and leave teams scrambling to fill schedules and meet minimum NCAA requirements. The WAC administrators have to be shell-shocked, especially considering that they just wrote a $5 million buyout into the conference bylaws.
That's not all for the WAC, however, as the news keeps getting worse by the minute.
Not only may they lose Nevada and Fresno State, but they may lose BYU in the process.
WCC Now In on BYU For Their Non-Football Sports http://sbnation.com/e/1394769
A bidding war has erupted for the rest of the BYU programs and with the WAC losing two members, they aren't looking like a great landing spot.
It appears as though BYU wanted the $5 million buyout in the WAC bylaws to ensure a potential landing spot should the decision to go independent in football predictably backfire. Instead of resting on his laurels and watching his conference implode, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson went on the offensive, putting the WAC directly in his sights.
The MWC is ready to help with the buyouts of Nevada and Fresno State -- if there even is a buyout -- in order to ensure the survival of the conference. Surely this is a smart move, but the MWC isn't exactly rolling in money right now.
None of this means the MWC is in better shape than it was a few days ago. In losing BYU and Utah, the MWC likely also lost the automatic qualifier tag they were oh-so-close to picking up. Adding BSU helps, but Nevada and Fresno State do little to bolster the MWC's position in the AQ bid formula. Without a bid, the MWC seems destined to keep a middling TV contract and small streams of revenue comparatively.
For the WAC, and Idaho, this is terrible news. The Vandals were finally starting to make waves and now find themselves in a barren wasteland of a conference. It wasn't great to begin with, but now it's just a shell of its former self. Any additions the conference will make over the coming days likely won't be significant or increase the conference's prestige. For a program on the rise, Idaho has found itself in a terrible situation that I can't help but feel bad for.
In the end, nobody wins this round of conference realignment. Following in the steps of the Pac-10 and trying to dissolve competitors conferences hurts these mid-majors. Once on the doorstep of legitimacy, the MWC found itself scrambling to replace two cornerstone programs. The WAC lost it's best football program while serving as little more than a placeholder BYU before losing two more members and being crippled.
In a few years, BYU may come slinking back to the MWC but the damage has already been done.