During a 90-minute teleconference with the media Tuesday afternoon, WAC commissioner Karl Benson fielded questions on a variety of topics concerning the past, present and future of the conference. Here's a sampling of his responses:
Q: What will become of the remaining eight schools?A: "We need to find out what they want. I look at this as one more challenge to recreate the WAC. It's not going to dissolve on my watch. The WAC has always been the underdog."
Q: Will the WAC plan to expand?
A: "We've been left with Hawaii, Northern California, Texas and Oklahoma. There's a wide gap between the Pacific and Texas now. There are schools between California and Texas that have been interested in the WAC in the past, and I'm sure they will be in the future."
Q: What schools are you talking about?
A: "It's too early to speculate. Nevada-Reno received considerable consideration in April 1994 (when the conference opted to expand from 10 to 16 schools). Utah State, New Mexico State, North Texas State and Boise State have also expressed interest in the past. It's going to be a matter of evaluation and seeing what different schools bring as far as bowl agreements and television packages."
Q: Do you feel you are the scapegoat for a decision you did not make (to expand in the first place)?
A: "No, I don't feel like a scapegoat. We did the best we could. I'm disappointed we didn't have more time to make it work."
Q: What issues brought about this decision?
A: "It's a financial issue. It's my challenge to create a financial source to feed 16 mouths. Obviously we weren't able to do that," he said. Benson added this action might have been avoided had BYU been included in the Bowl Alliance in 1996 and allowed to play in the Fiesta Bowl and collect an $8 million dollar paycheck to be divided among the 16 members. "Would that have satisfied the financial needs? The answer is probably yes."