Utah State football: Aggies, WAC end up in a worse situation

Published: Thursday, Oct. 8 2015 8:02 p.m. MDT

Karl Benson (Provided by WAC) Karl Benson (Provided by WAC)

LOGAN — After a morning of jubilation over the prospects of a conference alignment with BYU, Western Athletic Conference schools now find themselves in a giant game of chess as the Mountain West and WAC make moves and countermoves in anticipation of BYU's rumored decision to go independent in football and join another conference — reportedly the WAC — in all other sports.

Instead of a day of celebration in Logan, however, Utah State is once again scrambling to try and find a way to prop up its athletics program.

The silence from Logan — few at USU are willing to make any sort of comment — speaks volumes about the gravity of the situation.

Utah State football coach Gary Andersen did not want to discuss the developments.

Craig Thompson () Craig Thompson ()

"I have plenty of other things to worry about other than things I cannot control," Andersen replied in a text message Wednesday night.

Hawaii's athletic director, Jim Donovan, said the late developments most certainly hurt the WAC. Donovan compared the fast-changing development to "going in for a score and throwing an interception the other way for a TD."

The move of Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC capped a day of rapidly changing news reports from various sources across the country.

One report, allegedly made by ESPN radio in Austin, Texas — you know, the guys who fueled the entire Texas to the Pac-10 drama — and then repeated by 1320 AM's David Locke and others, had UNLV and San Diego State following BYU out of the MWC and joining the WAC for all sports while BYU remained a football independent.

That report, however, appears to be a fraud. The ESPNAustin twitter account site is not an active account and has not had an update in more than eight months.

Other reports from ESPN's Joe Schad and Andy Katz bounced from the WAC winning the battle to the MWC landing the knockout counterpunch.

In the end, it's the WAC and USU with the bloody nose.

Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes and WAC commissioner Karl Benson did not return phone calls or text messages asking for comment Wednesday night. However, the WAC announced late Wednesday night that Benson will hold a teleconference 11 a.m. Thursday to address the losses.

Fresno State and Nevada both didn't take long in deciding to join Boise State in departing the WAC.

"Fresno State is honored to accept the invitation to join the Mountain West Conference," Fresno State president John Welty said. "We look forward to competition against some universities we have not faced previously and to renewing rivalries with San Diego State, Colorado State and several other schools that we enjoyed previously."

Nevada, which, like Boise State, was a I-AA school not too long ago, has made a similar path to the MWC — just without as much national success.

But the opportunity to follow Fresno State and Boise State — not to mention align themselves with long-time instate rival UNLV — was too much to pass up.

"We have had a great experience in the WAC. We have appreciated the strong competition and the wonderful colleagues," Nevada president Milt Glick said. "The offer to join the Mountain West Conference is an opportunity we cannot turn down. The Mountain West is a strong conference, and this will enhance our natural rivalry with UNLV and continue our rivalry with Boise State. We believe joining this conference is in the best, long-term interests of our fans and program, and also view this invitation as acknowledgement of our work to build a strong, competitive program."

MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said the goal behind the moves was not to make a strike against the WAC in an attempt to influence BYU's decision in regards to football independence.

"We've gotten better with Fresno State and Nevada joining our league," Thompson said.

The WAC, on the other hand, got significantly — and perhaps irrevocably — worse.

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