Posted by Adam Jacobi
Following the impending exodus of Nevada and Boise State, the WAC looks to be in dire straits; the most high-profile member remaining will be, like, Hawaii -- and that's not the football program it used to be by any stretch. But if the WAC's expecting great candidates to step forward to fill the voids being left, they're probably not going to be blown away by the schools presenting themselves to the WAC at a meeting later this month:
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Texas State and UT-San Antonio will make presentations to the league's membership committee at its Sept. 28 meeting in Dallas. The membership committee is comprised of the athletic directors from the six remaining members of the WAC (Idaho, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech San Jose State, New Mexico State and Utah State).
Benson said he expects no decisions at the meeting.
On paper, the two schools are actually attractive targets. They're both on the high-population corridor of I-35 in Texas between Dallas and San Antonio, and their enrollment numbers are huge: TSU boasts over 32,000 students, and UTSA has over 28,000 of its own. Big schools with tepid academic standards and huge television markets? Again, on paper, decent fits.
What separates the schools, however, is the ability to invest heavily in athletics. UTSA has recently pushed forward with expansion plans in athletics, and they're starting a new football program next season with Larry Coker at the helm. Most notably, UTSA will be playing in the Alamadome, and having a high-profile stadium ready and waiting will be a huge boost for the young program -- especially if they want to join a conference that isn't, like, the Sun Belt. The real question, of course, is whether the program can be ready for WAC play by 2012, the date Benson set forth for getting back to eight members. Year 2 of play and already in FBS? Best of luck, sirs.
Texas State, meanwhile, is stuck in a 30-year-old, 15,000-seat stadium -- and their paltry $87 million endowment isn't going to be able to make much progress on that front. Sure, it's great that TSU wants to make the move up to I-A, but if they don't make the proper investments in the program and its infrastructure, they'll just be a farther-west version of Florida International or Western Kentucky: teams that jumped up a sub-division for no real reason.
At the end of the day, though, if the WAC says yes to either of these two schools, it won't be doing a whole lot to immediately rectify its new "have-not" status.