The Western Athletic Conference is on hard times. The faces of the conference (Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada) will all be gone by 2012, heading for greener pastures in the Mountain West. The replacements are two FCS programs (one with only one year of history) and a non-football school. FCS schools Montana and UC Davis have declined an invite, and now North Texas has declined an invite as well.
Seattle U still wants to join and the WAC plans on visiting the campus soon. But, without a football program, they aren't going to save the WAC. What will happen next? Look over to Ruston, LA and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Many, myself included, had them going over to C-USA, but that might not be a done deal anymore. Since Katrina, the Louisiana schools have had budget cuts, and it was announced by Governor Bobby Jindal that another budget cut of about 35% will occur for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Three schools are expected to be really hurt by this: Monroe, Grambling, and Tech.
While La Tech was able to get away with making minor cuts in the athletic department the past two years, they won't be able to do it again. They can't afford to stay in the WAC pass 2011 (travel will hurt the school, but so would the conference buyout, thus making them stay for 2011). And C-USA may not want a school with the potential financial problems that Tech faces.
That leaves the Sun Belt, a conference based in New Orleans that has already lost two schools (Denver and New Orleans) but are in no way hurting like the WAC. The Belt has 11 schools under its umbrella (nine of them in FBS with a 10th in 2013 in the Southern Alabama Jaguars) and are a lot more localized than the WAC. That means better travel costs, better rivalries, and better support and attendance.
Wait, what about loyalty to the WAC? Well, that went out the door when the WAC (according to El Paso reports) offered to trade Tech for the Miners (UTEP declined the invite).
The WAC is doing everything they can to survive—it's time the Bulldogs do the same.