Conference Realignment is one of the toughest things to break down and to understand. The world, and especially college athletics, is driven by money (even though players can’t be paid in the NCAA). That’s what makes it very difficult to analyze.
However, I think it is apparent that something needs to be done to improve the quality of play in college basketball in the western part of the United States, and it all starts with two conferences: the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the West Coast Conference (WCC).
Simply put, the WAC hasn’t been the same ever since it’s football side of things disbanded and fell apart into a million pieces. (That’s literally what happened, by the way.) Everything that made the WAC what it was in the past is nonexistent today. Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Jose State, and Utah State all fled to the Mountain West (for more money) five years ago and left the WAC with no quality mid-major programs and “developmental” vibe to it. The reason for that vibe is because teams would go there if they needed a transition conference before moving onto bigger and better things. That’s not what you want your conference to be.
The West Coast Conference, on the other hand, has been pretty steady in their teams’ affiliations since 1980 when Seattle was the last team that left. However, the quality of the conference is sub-par. Looking at basketball (because it’s the WCC’s biggest money-maker), Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have led a top-heavy league for quite some time, and, to be honest, they are holding themselves back by staying in the WCC.
Gonzaga sparked some talk online this past week when the Mountain West reached out to them about joining their conference shortly, which would be a huge step up in quality for the program and the conference as a whole.
That brings me to the WCC’s recent acquisition as of 2011, BYU. The Cougars left the Mountain West because they wanted to be an independent football school and remain apart of the Mountain West in other sports at the same time. The conference said no, which meant that BYU would need to find a new home. Thus, they became apart of the WCC. Many people view this move as a huge step down for the school, but a needed one at the time because BYU would’ve been left with nothing and would’ve missed out on some of that “unit” money that teams desperately need. (“Unit” money is the money that gets distributed to a conference when a member makes it to the postseason. The money is then disbursed throughout the teams in the conference over a period of time.)
BYU has gone on record to say that they will go wherever Gonzaga decides to go so they could maximize their potential revenue. Because let’s be honest, the WCC is nothing without Gonzaga when looking at the basketball side of things. However, would the Mountain West even consider bringing back BYU? Where does the PAC-12 come into play in all of this? After all, the PAC-12 is looking at Boise State and BYU to add on to their respected because of their strong markets and rich football history.
In my “fantasy booking of these conferences,” Gonzaga’s potential move to the Mountain West either directly impacts changes or will spark changes in nine different conferences. Becuase of this, there’s a lot to break down, so I figured I’d just dive into everything head first and go from there.
Let’s take a look at how the conferences that will be affected are guaranteed to look in the next two years. (Yes, this includes teams that are already slated to move regardless of my views on this. I have put those teams in italics.)
- Eastern Washington
- Idaho State
- Montana State
- Northern Arizona
- Northern Colorado
- Portland State
- Sacramento State
- Southern Utah
- Weber State
- Cal Poly
- Cal State Bakersfield
- Cal State Fullerton
- Cal State Northridge
- Long Beach State
- UC Davis
- UC Irvine
- UC Riverside
- UC San Diego
- UC Santa Barbara
- Cleveland State
- Green Bay
- Northern Kentucky
- Wright State
- Youngstown State
- Air Force
- Boise State
- Colorado State
- Fresno State
- New Mexico
- San Diego State
- San Jose State
- Utah State
- Arizona State
- Oregon State
- Washington State
- Abilene Christian
- Central Arkansas
- Houston Baptist
- Incarnate Word
- McNeese State
- New Orleans
- Nicholls State
- Northwestern State
- Sam Houston State
- Southeastern Louisiana
- Stephen F. Austin
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
- Fort Wayne
- North Dakota
- North Dakota State
- Oral Roberts
- South Dakota
- South Dakota State
- Western Illinois
- Cal Baptist
- Chicago State
- Grand Canyon
- New Mexico State
- UT-Rio Grande Valley
- Utah Valley
- Loyola Marymount
- Saint Mary’s
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Santa Clara
Again, the whole reason behind this is because the quality of play in both the WAC and WCC needs to be improved. With that being said, let’s start with the WAC because it’s time for that conference to be disbarred.
Seattle and Utah Valley to the Big Sky
Geographically, Seattle and Utah Valley could score big with a move to the Big Sky. The Big Sky also needs a couple of up and coming programs for basketball as it’s 2017 tournament champion, North Dakota is moving to the Summit League in 2018. Sure, 13 teams might be a lot for a conference like this, but Big Sky commissioner Andrea Williams is all about “dramatic changes” to the league.
Chicago State and Fort Wayne to the Horizon
Chicago State as a basketball program is worse than anything Donald Trump has ever said, and that’s saying something. Before this week, they had lost 40-straight games against Division I foes. That’s just the tip of the iceberg folks. Chicago State has had a total of three winning seasons since their inception in 1984, and half of those were when they were an NAIA school. How they’ve remained in Division I is beyond me. Nobody has wanted them! That’s why the WAC picked them up back in 2013. The league needed schools.
A move to the Horizon League is a stretch as it would bring the quality of the league down, but it would make more geographical sense for the Cougars as playing half of their games on the west coast is an abomination for college students. No wonder the school only gets the rejects from the Chicago area. Who knows? Maybe a move to the Horizon League is just what this school needs for recruiting purposes. And plus, they could start a rivalry with UIC. The schools are only 12 miles from each other but have only played three times since the 2005-06 season.
The reasoning behind the IPFW move to the Horizon is simple as it’s all travel based. If IUPUI can do it, so can a school that has beaten Indiana twice in the past two seasons.
Cal Baptist to the Big West
California Baptist is making the transition to Divison I in the next couple of years and is slated to go the WAC. That’s terrible. A move to the Big West just makes sense. We’ll leave it at that.
Gonzaga to the Mountain West
Gonzaga deserves better. They deserve more than what they’re getting in the West Coast Conference right now. Just think about how good this league would be with the Nevada and Boise State of today, a resurged San Diego State, resurged UNLV, resurged New Mexico, and Gonzaga. That’s at least a three-bid NCAA Tournament league if you ask me.
Grand Canyon and New Mexico State to the WCC
The star power that the West Coast Conference has will be massively diminished the minute Gonzaga leaves meaning they would need to fill that gap quick or lose out on millions of dollars. The thing is, there isn’t one team that can replace Gonzaga that’s on the “market” right now. That means that there will need to be two teams to replace the Bulldogs. Insert Grand Canyon and New Mexico State.
New Mexico State has been THE team in the WAC since 2013, and that won’t change anytime soon. However, one program that’s been gaining some steam since moving up to Division I is Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon has the best student section in the country outside of Duke. (Come at me.) Both of these teams would be welcomed in with open arms into the WCC if Gonzaga were to leave. Plus, I’d love to see Saint Mary’s, BYU, New Mexico State, and Grand Canyon go after the conference’s automatic bid every year. That would be an exceptionally entertaining race!
UTRGV to the Southland
Formerly Texas-Pan American, UT-Rio Grande Valley is a logical fit to join the numerous amount of teams in the Southland. Again, it makes the most sense travel wise, and there are a plethora of teams in that conference that can be rivals with the Vaqueros. They’d be the 8th team from Texas in the conference.
UMKC to the Summit
To be honest, the Summit League has been one of my favorite conferences to watch since they were repackaged in 2007. It was because of their cool logo, but that’s beside the point. UMKC did leave in 2013 because the WAC gave them a hefty sum of money to join. Would they be welcomed back? Maybe. A nine-team league looks a lot better than a eight-team league for Summit League officials.
I was shocked when I heard the possibility of the PAC-12 possibly expanding. Why would they want to do that? They’re a Power 5 Conference, and they’ve got great TV deals, along with their own network. Besides, what team would even join the league? The answer to that is none other for Boise State.
Football is driving this decision here, and it’s a tough one for me. I’m going to leave the PAC-12 as is, but don’t rule out the possibility of some realignment in the future. And if Boise State goes for football, expect BYU to follow suit as well.
Below is a table that sums up the moves that I made with the different conferences. Remember, the WAC is no more.
|Big Sky||Big West||Horizon||Mountain West||Southland||Summit||West Coast|
|Eastern Washington||Cal Baptist||Chicago State||Air Force||Abilene Christian||Denver||BYU|
|Idaho||Cal Poly||Cleveland State||Boise State||Central Arkansas||North Dakota||Grand Canyon|
|Idaho State||Cal State Bakersfield||Detroit||Colorado State||Houston Baptist||North Dakota State||Loyola Marymount|
|Montana||Cal State Fullerton||Fort Wayne||Fresno State||Incarnate Word||Omaha||New Mexico State|
|Montana State||Cal State Northridge||Green Bay||Gonzaga||Lamar||Oral Roberts||Pacific|
|Northern Arizona||Hawaii||IUPUI||Nevada||McNeese State||South Dakota||Pepperdine|
|Northern Colorado||Long Beach State||Milwaukee||New Mexico||New Orleans||South Dakota State||Portland|
|Portland State||UC Davis||Northern Kentucky||San Diego State||Nicholls State||UMKC||Saint Mary's|
|Sacramento State||UC Irvine||Oakland||San Jose State||Northwestern State||Western Illinois||San Diego|
|Seattle||UC Riverside||UIC||UNLV||Sam Houston State||San Francisco|
|Southern Utah||UC San Diego||Wright State||Utah State||Southeastern Louisiana||Santa Clara|
|Utah Valley||UC Santa Barbara||Youngstown State||Wyoming||Stephen F. Austin|
|Weber State||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi|
|Texas-Rio Grande Valley|
If you are looking at some interesting articles that break some things down a bit further, you are in luck because I have the links to those for you. The first takes a look at the potential move for Gonzaga to the Mountain West and what BYU would do if that were to happen. You can check that out at the link here. The second is the potential BYU and Boise State PAC-12 move, which you can view here.
That’ll do it for this break down of repackaging the conferences in the west. What did you think of the moves? Are the WAC and WCC doomed due to a lack of depth? Be sure to tell us about it in the comment section below. Also, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter: @PowerRank_More, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on our Instagram page for all of the latest information from Power Rankings and More.
Published on 3/6/18 at 7:38 PM EST. Photo credit: NCAA.Share this post on:
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