The conference loses Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii to the Mountain West this year, following Boise State's defection in 2011. It gets even worse as Utah State and San Jose State will join those schools in defecting from the WAC next year.
The Mountain West has basically become the new WAC and the old WAC is apparently dead as a football conference for 2013.
As a temporary means of survival for this season, the WAC found a band-aid by adding Texas State and Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), but neither is eligible for a conference title or bowl game this year as they begin their transition season from the FCS, and both already have plans to move elsewhere for 2013. Texas State accepted an invitation to the Sun Belt while UTSA joins Louisiana Tech in moving to Conference USA.
The conference announced on August 20 that it will no longer sponsor football after this season following the announcement that Idaho was cleared to compete as an FBS independent. As of this writing, New Mexico State was still pursuing its options which are likely limited to seeking independent status or moving to the FCS until a conference option opens up.
For this year, it is easily the weakest conference in the football bowl subdivision. Six of the seven members have schedules that rank 112th or worse. Only Idaho (No. 90) avoids that distinction.
Last year, the Congrove Computer Rankings projected Nevada to go 9-3 overall and 7-0 in the conference, but Louisiana Tech (8-4, 6-1) brought home the bacon while the Wolf Pack (7-5, 5-2) tied for 2nd with Utah State (7-5, 5-2).
All three schools went to bowl games and lost. Louisiana Tech fell 31-24 to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl, Nevada bowed 24-17 to Southern Miss in the Hawaii Bowl, and Utah State lost 24-23 to Ohio on a Bobcats touchdown with 13 seconds remaining in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
It was Utah State's first bowl appearance since the 1997 season, and Louisiana Tech's first return to the postseason since 2008.
Louisiana Tech's 2011 success was surprising after being projected to go 4-8 overall and 3-4 in league play. Instead, the Bulldogs finished 8-5 overall while losing just one conference match, a 44-26 setback to Hawaii at home. The Bulldogs are favored to repeat this year while improving to 10-2 overall and going undefeated (6-0) in league play.
Coach Sonny Dykes' squad is slated to lose its openers to Texas A&M and Houston, respectively, by a combined 8.09 points. From there, the computer has Louisiana Tech racking up 10 straight victories, including back-to-back nail-biting road wins at Illinois and Virginia. The Bulldogs are favored by just 0.09 at the Fighting Illini and 1.27 at the Cavaliers.
Utah State slightly exceeded the computer's expectations of a 6-6 regular season and 3-4 conference mark in 2011 after nearly knocking off Auburn to open the season. The Aggies are a solid second-place pick this time around, but must avoid being beat up by a tough non-conference slate that includes a visit to Wisconsin in addition to its rivalry games with Utah (home) and BYU (away).
San Jose State is projected to bag its first winning season (7-5) since 2007 when the Spartans finished 8-4.
New Mexico State's projected 5-win campaign would be just a 1-win improvement over last season's 4-9 campaign.
UTSA picks up 4 of its forecasted 6 wins against FCS schools, but is also anticipated to squeak past Idaho and Texas State. The Roadrunners are coached by Larry Coker who led the Miami Hurricanes to the national championship in the 2001 season.
UTSA played its first game on September 3rd of last season. Coker was 4-6 with UTSA last year with the victories coming against a pair of NAIA schools, one Division 2 school and one FCS program.
Texas State has fielded a football team since 1904 and owns 14 conference titles in the lower divisions. Former TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione was 6-6 last season in his first year with the Bobcats. The victories came against five FCS teams and one D2 school.
The computer's forecast of a 1-11 campaign by Idaho should possibly be taken lightly by fans of the Vandals as the computer said the same thing in 2009 when they wound up going 7-5. And last year, the computer saw its 8-4 Idaho forecast become a nightmarish 2-10 reality.
The WAC has seen only five head coaching changes in the last five seasons and none last year. There are also no changes this season, but that's only because of Hawaii and Fresno State's departures. Both of those schools did see shake-ups for 2012 as Greg McMackin removed himself at Hawaii and Pat Hill was fired from Fresno State.