If a new round of college sports realignment happens, this one would be entirely different, according to one former coach.
Basketball would be at the forefront.
A San Diego Union-Tribune story Wednesday said Gonzaga is considering leaving the West Coast Conference for the Mountain West. Though the story said the MWC isn’t talking with BYU, it noted the Cougars would consider moving if Gonzaga does.
“I think there have been so many moves in athletics, and probably BYU’s last move was very football driven,” said Joe Cravens, a former coach at Idaho, Utah and Weber State. “This would be very basketball driven. I think of all the changes in what used to be the Big 8, now the Big 12, as well as the Big Ten and Pac-12 — all have been very football driven. This is very unique. It may be the first change of conference affiliations that is basketball driven, not football.”
Cravens, who now does TV analysis for the Mountain West Conference, says such a move would be a great one for the league.
“I think you would only have to look at the old WAC, how it was and what it is now. That was once a great basketball league — BYU, Utah, New Mexico, CSU, Wyoming, UTEP then people started bolting. Now it’s a very low-major basketball league," he said. "I think if something like that were to happen (BYU and Gonzaga move), it would be a terrific victory for the Mountain West and a near-catastrophic move for the West Coast Conference.”
Although the WCC has been a good fit for BYU in basketball, Cravens said he favors traditional rivalries.
“While I think the WCC is a very good basketball league, it just doesn’t feel the same as the old WAC rivalries in all their sports,” Cravens said. “This may be a kind of step back, to kind of a comfort zone.
“You can’t tell me having Pepperdine in the Marriott Center is the same as Wyoming coming to the Marriott Center. I can’t speak for (BYU coach) Dave Rose, but I think it would be a good move for them.”