The Western Athletic Conference also known as the "Wacky WAC" to local sports fans - is harder to read than a revolving zone defense.

Last winter, LaDell Anderson, basketball coach at Brigham Young University, raised eyebrows and expectations by voting several WAC teams in the Top 10. That turned out to be wishful thinkingNow that the 1988 football season is underway, precious little has been said about local grid teams being powerhouses. Yet WAC play - not predictions about WAC play - is raising eyebrows around the country.

The regional teams are 7-1 against non-conference opponents. Along the way to that record, Hawaii - picked to finish fourth in the WAC - knocked off Iowa, Sport Magazine's pre-season pick as the nation's best. BYU demolished 19th-ranked Texas, Utah scored over 40 in beating Idaho, UTEP scored over 40 in beating Weber State, and Wyoming scored more than 40 in a romp over Louisville.

What seems to have happened is that WAC members are beginning to reach some kind of parity in the league, no longer automatically dominated by BYU. They have done it, not by pulling BYU down, but by raising their own levels of performance. That's the meaning of competition at its best.

Can the boys from the Interior West hold that line? That's an open question, but for now, the WAC is earning respect.