Fresno State and Nevada won't be escaping the shadow of Boise State after all. The two schools announced Wednesday night that they each had accepted invitations to join the Mountain West Conference and begin competing in that league as early as the 2011-2012 academic year.
The six remaining WAC teams become the obvious losers in all of this. The leftovers are Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State - hardly a roster that will generate interest for expansion.
Boise State began the WAC exodus on June 11 when it believed it was joining Utah and BYU in a league that was becoming more relevant as a football conference. Utah opted for the PAC-10 a week later, and rumbles began surfacing Wednesday that BYU was leaving to become a football independent. Ironically, the Cougars would join the WAC for all other sports.
Thus, the quick action to invite Fresno State and Nevada. Perhaps a newly beefed-up Mountain West would stave-off a BYU departure.
The sudden flare-up of activity comes more than two months after Nebraska and Colorado announced they were leaving the Big 12 to join the Big Ten and PAC-10, respectively.
At the time, the PAC-10 was expected to be on its way to 16 schools with two divisions by siphoning off additional Big 12 heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma, along with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Those schools would have joined Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State in a West Division alignment, but the remaining Big 12 membership reached an 11th hour agreement to stick together.
With Wednesday's moves, the Mountain West Conference is back on the map as an attraction to become the seventh automatic qualifying conference in the BCS - if BYU stays. If the MWC fails to retain Brigham Young, Wednesday's events would appear to be almost meaningless on the national stage.