Not only is first-year Boise State coach Leon Rice striving to build the Broncos' program in Gonzaga's image, the ex-Zags assistant is also doing his best to make the WAC resemble the West Coast Conference.
The WAC has adopted Rice's suggestion to change the format of its conference tournament to reward teams who do the best in the regular season, the Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday. Beginning this coming season, the top two seeds in the WAC tournament will get a bye to the semifinals just as they have in recent years in the WCC.
Boise State will only reside in the WAC for one more season before moving to the Mountain West in 2011, so the conference tournament makeover probably will have minimal impact on Rice's program. Instead the biggest benefactors figure to be Utah State and Nevada, both of which have dominated the league the past five years and combined to win or share the last seven WAC titles.
In the past eight years, 2007-08 San Diego is the only WCC team seeded third or worse to win the conference's postseason tournament. By contrast, teams seeded third or worse have won the WAC tournament twice in the past three years, with New Mexico State taking the title last season and Boise State winning in 2008.
For the first time next season, the WAC tournament will be held in Las Vegas, which coincidentally is also the home of the WCC's postseason event.
Rice hadn't even arrived at Boise State when the league adopted that proposal, but it's probably safe to say he'll approve.
(Thanks, College Basketball Nation)