Is Joining the WAC So Soon a Good Move for the UTSA Roadrunners?

Lake CruiseAnalyst INovember 12, 2010

Dec. 3, 2007: Larry Coker prepares for and ESPNU broadcast.  Coker is UTSA's first football head coach, and his resume is grand enough to provoke high expectations.
Dec. 3, 2007: Larry Coker prepares for and ESPNU broadcast. Coker is UTSA's first football head coach, and his resume is grand enough to provoke high expectations.Doug Benc/Getty Images

What does the University of San Antonio,Texas do better than its father campus in Austin?  Let’s debate it in the latest chapter of my popular "Reasoning on the Riverwalk" series.

The UTSA debate team is No. 1 in the nation.  They won the national tournament in Kansas City in October by beating out Harvard, Dartmouth and California-Berkeley. 

I was the finance officer for my debate team in college, and we competed against the likes of powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas Southern.  Emory and UT are also known as powerhouse debate squads. 

That was back in the day.

The other day, it was officially announced UTSA will join the Western Athletic Conference.  The Road Runners could do very well in the 48-year-old WAC. 

I would use the entire phrase and not the acronym, or I would change the conference’s name.  Why would I do this?

The term “whack” carries connotations of something bad happening, i.e., “Sammy got whacked” or “a whack song.”  I would rename the WAC The Big West Conference or something similar.

UTSA, Texas State and the University of Denver will join the WAC in 2012.  It is expected that  UTSA’s teams will start full athletic competition in the conference, in 2013.

The Roadrunners were invited to the WAC since Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada are moving to the Mountain West Conference.

Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Utah State and San Jose State are currently in the WAC.  Its charter members were: Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Arizona and ASU bolted in 1978 to join the Pac-10.  The other four schools departed in 1999 to help form the Mountain West.

University of Montana officials were contemplating a move to the WAC, but decided to remain in the Big Sky Conference.  The Grizzlies are an FCS power. 

The WAC is considered to be a mid-major conference.  As it stands, only six BCS conferences exist: The Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC and Big East. 

The BCS is designed to make sure the two top-rated teams meet to determine America’s best college football program.

According to BCS officials, the system has paired the top two teams in the nation 12 out of 12 years.  Officials are not shy about touting the revenue opportunities the BCS provides to all eleven college football conferences. 

Two mid-majors—TCU and Boise—are ranked No. 3 and No. 4.  Utah and Nevada are the only other mid-majors in the BCS 25.

Like it or not, some major college football programs don’t consider mid-majors as their equals.

Major schools have little to gain and lots to lose by scheduling UTSA.  If the Roadrunners beat Texas Tech or Baylor, for example, it could set TTU or BU back four years.

Allegedly, major squads prefer to boost their non-conference records by playing lesser mid-major programs. A weak strength of schedule is detrimental in the BCS system—see Boise in 2010 and Florida State in 2006.

That being said, Oklahoma State, Houston, Kansas State, Virginia and Baylor have committed to play the Roadrunners in San Antonio.  The dome now serves the purpose it was built for.

It would be something if those matchups occurred in one season, but they are scheduled in different years through 2018.

UTSA will call the dome home for at least five seasons ,and split the revenue with the city. 

Some argue UTSA playing in the Alamodome will aid the East Side’s small businesses.  I’m wondering if moving the Spurs to the AT&T Center did the same thing.

A windfall in the Coca-Cola plant sits across the road from the AT&T Center.  What about the rest of the businesses in the area?

Murf’s Better-Burgers disappeared from East Houston Street across the road from J’s Barber Shop.  My point is don’t count the football-related money before it is spent.

UTSA’s athletics director and football ambassador, Lynn Hickey, hopes the Roadrunners play in the Alamodome “for a long, long time.”

The move to the WAC is effective July 1, 2012.  Commissioner Karl Benson, during his press conference on Nov. 11, said he thought UTSA could become the next Boise.

He must have read my viral column published in September, arguing the very same point.

UTSA won’t play a full WAC schedule until 2013, according to Hickey.  She said she prefers to play a full WAC schedule starting in three years.

I believe it was a fantastic move to join the WAC.  In my opinion, UTSA could take over the conference in a variety of sports.

With their bold decisions, well-groomed publicity and history-focused get-up-and-go—UTSA sports gets an A+ from this sportswriter.

Do you think it was a good move?  Meet me on the Riverwalk and let’s debate it.  This has been the latest version of my Reasoning on the Riverwalk series.