When Fresno State first left the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for the Mountain West Conference (MWC) it was looked at as a huge step forward for the program. The Bulldogs would finally be able to be in a conference that had a shot at an automatic BCS bowl bid. Fast-forward a year later and a lot has changed for the conference.
Last year the MWC was beaming with pride when it looked as though they would be an extremely competitive conference but in the last year they have had to watch as Boise State, San Diego State and TCU left for the Big12 and Big East. That’s not even counting the departures of Utah to the Pac12 and BYU to independent status before the season began.
This makes the biggest additions to the conference Nevada and Hawaii. Hardly something to be excited about considering they both left the WAC with the Bulldogs. The remainder of the MWC will consist of Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State and Air Force. Hardly the big boys the Bulldogs thought they’d be playing with when they elected to switch conferences.
Wyoming and Air Force were also the only two remaining teams from this last season’s MWC that finished with winning records. Wyoming won eight games, while Air Force won seven. UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State on the other hand were among some of the worst teams in the country winning a combined six games.
These facts make one ponder was the move to another conference really worth it? Are Wyoming, Air Force, UNLV, New Mexico, and Colorado State that much better than Utah State, Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech? The answer is an emphatic no. They are not that much better than the aforementioned teams.
At this point the move may have even hurt the Bulldogs. In 2010 the Bulldogs were forced by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson to pay a $5 million fee and to wait until 2012 to join the MWC. The Bulldogs were forced to pay the fee due to the members of the WAC signing a buyout pact stating that any member looking to leave the conference would have to pay the fee and wait. A week after signing the loyalty pact the Bulldogs accepted the MWC’s invitation.
This essentially means that they paid $5 million to join a conference that is now no better than the one it left. Basically, the university wasted money just to have a different conference logo on their uniforms. This hurts even more considering the fact that the Athletic Department is hurting as it is.
When one makes a risky move the purpose of the move is to advance one’s self. In this case the Bulldogs made a lateral move, if not a step back.