Dick Harmon: BYU, Utah Utes proved to be big dogs of MWC with numerous titles

Published: Monday, May 16 2011 7:00 p.m. MDT

If you throw in the challenge of maintaining high academics, university sports are more than bowl-bound muscle farms.

Minor sports? They are NCAA- and MWC-sponsored competitions that draw thousands of scholarship athletes in the league's athletic programs. They do count. They are registered and tallied in the annual Director's Cup standings, the NCAA's way of ranking success of the nation's athletic programs.

This sports season BYU won 10 trophies, four in regular season championships including men's and women's basketball, men's tennis and softball. The Cougars annexed tournament titles in six sports (women's soccer, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's tennis and men's and women's outdoor track).

And what about the milk-giving cow, football?

The most impressive MWC feat in football has been TCU, which in a relatively short time since membership in 2005, has won three league titles and made two BCS appearances.

BYU and Utah leave the MWC tied with four football titles each. BYU and Utah shared the championship in 1999 with CSU before BYU won in 2001, 2006 and 2007. Utah won its three other titles in 2004, 2005 and 2008 with BCS victories over Pittsburgh and Alabama four years apart.

Yes, the MWC pedigree is about to change. Utah and BYU will be no longer be the kindling in this league after the end of June. TCU will linger for another season and be gone.

In a sense, the MWC will no longer be anything like its reputation has made it the past dozen years. UNLV, New Mexico and SDSU will dominate in basketball and Boise State will take over football, while the other sports will cannibalize each other.

An entirely different era will begin.

Who will be the dog with the loudest bark?

Who knows.

As for now, somebody did let the big dogs out.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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