Conference expansion dominated the college football world last off-season and even trickled into the season itself. After all was said and done, at least the first waves, no conference was affected more than the Mountain West Conference and the WAC.
When replacing a conference member that’s moved on, more often than not, the replacement will be a top school from a lesser conference than your own. This was the case with the Mountain West Conference. The first expansion move was done by inviting the WAC’s top performer, Boise State University.
Once Utah left for the PAC-10/12, many praised Craig Thompson for having the foresight to bring in Boise State in anticipation of the expansion shake-ups. Boise State was the only other “BCS busting” school outside of the Mountain West Conference.
Thompson, however, wasn’t finished picking the WAC apart. Nevada and Fresno State were the next to jump ship, followed months later by Hawaii.
The WAC acquisitions were not enough to keep BYU. They left for college football independence and the West Coast Conference in all other sports. The last remaining hope for the Mountain West’s strength and credibility was TCU. Unfortunately, a BCS conference is a BCS conference and the Big East’s invitation was too much to pass up for the Horned Frogs.
After the dust had settled, The Mountain West Conference had, in essence, morphed into the WAC, only now with somewhat better bottom teams.
Here’s a visual I created to show just how much the Mountain West Conference has turned into the WAC:
I think Craig Thompson made the best out of what he was working with, but he can’t be thrilled about what a gigantic step backwards losing Utah, TCU and BYU was. Essentially, recruiting will improve for Boise, Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii now that they’ve ditched playing the ugly stepchildren of the NCAA football world and will now play just the ugly children.
You’ve got to think that the recruiting for all remaining Mountain West Conference schools will suffer. Also likely to suffer, impossible as it sounds, will be “the mtn.” network ratings.