From top to bottom, WAC football has it all
THE Western Athletic Conference has been getting some good reviews nationally lately, when it comes to football, which is good. It is. Though it does make you wonder whether some of these Internet pundits have actually watched much WAC football.
Now, I'm not talking about Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, which was one of the all-time games, an incredible, incredulous scenario that couldn't have been summed up by even the great Grantland Rice. That might have been the best college football game ever played -- impossible comeback, Cinderella story, fourth-and-forever, hook-and-ladder, overtime, halfback pass, Statue of Liberty, and, after all of it, the cheerleader who said "yes." And all of this against Oklahoma. Seriously. I'm in tears as I type this. This one had it all.
Or even last year's Hawaii Bowl, Colt Brennan's Rolo moment, a high-powered offense putting a pounding on a Pac-10 school. That was an unbelievable night. It was amazing, magic in the air. Remember?
Yes, these are heady days for the WAC -- at the top.
But I'm talking about watching something from Week 7, maybe, anything involving Idaho or Utah State, or even, though the Aggies appear to be getting better, New Mexico State.
Oh, good lord.
Last year, Louisiana Tech.
This is WAC football, too. Heaven help us.
I don't know if any "national" guy could watch it without banging his or her head.
Now, you say, every conference has its bottom half.
No. Not like this.
We saw it last season when we decided that UH was simply unstoppable, pounding WAC foe after WAC foe. Then, Purdue came to town. And ... oh. Wow, well, that was a markedly different level than what Hawaii had seen the previous eight straight weeks (UH would mount a nice comeback for a nice win).
And Purdue was the fifth-best team in its conference, hadn't beaten a team with a winning record all year. Its coach had come right out and said they didn't even want to play the game. And ... oh.
Part of the outrage at UH having two Division I-AA foes on its nonconference slate was, So, how many I-AAs does that make total, then?
Kidding. Those extra scholarships, the few more million dollars add up. Those guys at the bottom of the conference aren't close to being I-AA.
Just close enough.
When it comes to Division I football, this is another level, and not in a good way.
You just hope they get better. Nevada got better. San Jose State is getting better. You would hope that Fresno State is already bouncing back. Louisiana Tech has been fairly good in the past (but when the Bulldogs are bad, they are very, very bad).
Utah State is in a tough spot. Idaho's best chance, Dennis Erickson, bailed out on the Vandals after just one year, setting them back even more.
Of course, maybe that's the beauty of it, in this Cinderella's conference, that the bottom of the WAC is so bad, that all you have to do is be better, and you can pick up a few wins. And from there any team can dare to dream -- of Hawaii in 1999, and Dick Tomey getting doused after a bowl game, and Tulsa and UTEP coming out of nowhere. And even, eventually, of a fourth-and-forever, and a hook-and-ladder, and a Statue of Liberty, and a cheerleader who says "yes."