WAC preparing for
transition to ‘new league’
KARL Benson asked a rhetorical question during the Western Athletic Conference media teleconference this week.
"What do you do when you create a new league?"
That's what the commissioner considers the WAC heading into 2005, since the league is losing four members and adding three new ones.
New, however, is nothing new.
The WAC has been in a continual state of flux for more than 10 years. When UTEP leaves, Hawaii will be the senior member, having joined in 1979. Since Fresno State entered in 1992, 15 other schools have come and/or gone, not counting the 2005 "rookies."
The conference athletic directors began meetings yesterday to discuss the transition, which becomes official next July 1.
"It's the beginning of integrating new members," Benson said. "We'll take a look at how we've operated in the past, take a good look at all our policies and procedures. Everything from academic issues to game management."
On the football field so far, the records of the incoming and outgoing teams aren't much different. The three incoming WAC members -- Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State -- are 3-9. The outgoing schools -- Rice, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP -- are 5-9.
Only one bit of real news is expected to come out of the meetings; an announcement on where the 2006 conference basketball tournaments will be held is expected today. Nevada, Boise State, Fresno State and Utah State (to be played in Salt Lake City) put in bids.
Boise State » Benson, in attendance last Friday at the Brigham Young game at Boise State, said he "breathed a sigh of relief" when BYU missed a field goal that would've ended the Broncos' nation-leading winning streak that now stands at 15. Instead, BSU held on for a 28-27 victory that dropped it two spots in both polls to No. 23.
It never should've come down to the field goal, Benson said, and someone's probably going to pay. In Benson's view, the all-WAC officiating crew blew it on a pass interference call against Boise State.
"Even though Boise won, that call is being reviewed," Benson said. "... More than likely the official will be downgraded. ... I can tell you based on my review of the replays interference should not have been called."
Fresno State » The Bulldogs had the week off, but coach Pat Hill didn't watch the Boise State-BYU tussle.
"I was at my son's (high school) game," he said. "I'll get the tape."
Despite the season-ending injury to Dwayne Wright in the Kansas State game, the running back situation is well in hand. Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis both rushed form more than 100 yards two weeks ago against Portland State, and Hill plans to unleash another back Saturday at LaTech.
"Shannon Dorsey looked really good in our Sunday night scrimmage," Hill said. "We need to have a full stable of running backs. I think that's important."
SMU » Mustangs coach Phil Bennett heard from quite a few colleagues after SMU snapped its 15-game losing streak by beating San Jose State.
"In this business, people watch. I got quite a few e-mails and calls," he said. "We have a very young team, I hope we can keep it going."
That might be too much to ask for this week, as the Mustangs visit Boise State.
Nevada » The Wolf Pack plays its biggest game of the year Saturday, at UNLV in the annual battle for the Fremont Cannon. Nevada leads the series 15-14.
Pack receiver Caleb Spencer, a Kamehameha graduate, continues to become a bigger part of Chris Ault's "Air Wolf" offense. He caught 10 passes for 103 yards in last week's 27-10 loss to San Diego State.
UTEP » It's rivalry week for the Miners, too. They take on New Mexico State in the "I-10 Battle."
"One of the first things anyone said to me here was you better beat the Aggies," first-year UTEP coach Mike Price said.
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Dave Reardon is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter who covers University of Hawaii football and other topics. His column appears periodically.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org