Dr. Saturday

WAC commissioner finally pronounces football in his conference dead (or not? UPDATED)

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd

UPDATE (6:43 p.m. ET): Apparently, the Denver Post jumped the gun here. According to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman, Hurd said he was only talking about the 2013 season and that the push to bring football back in 2014 is still alive.

"We didn't make any announcement that we were quitting football," Hurd told Murphy.

However, Hurd did admit that keeping football in the WAC was going to be difficult and that there's not enough FCS teams interested in joining the WAC right now.

-- END UPDATE --

Less than a month after WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd told media that the conference might need to take a season off to gather more football schools, Hurd announced that the WAC is doing away with football altogether.

"I think that sometime in late July it became apparent that it was unlikely we could continue with football," Hurd told the Denver Post. "We looked at every option we could think of. With the geography we have in terms of schools, it presents a challenge."

The news comes just days after Idaho announced it was going independent in football and in negotiations with the Big Sky Conference for its other sports. That announcement left New Mexico State as the only football member in the conference.

With the realization that football is a lost cause, the conference is now just fighting for survival. Denver and Seattle are still non-football members and Call State Bakersfield joined the conference in baseball.

"If we can't get enough league members, we can't operate as a conference," Hurd told the paper. "We're going to do everything possible to avoid that. There aren't any obvious answers out there."

The WAC, which was established in 1962, is expected to make an announcement regarding its future in September.

The fall of the WAC came two years ago when Boise State announced it would join the Mountain West Conference. Soon, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii followed suit. The WAC replenished those losses with Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Denver, but the membership was always on shaky footing as many of the schools sought security in other conferences.

This past offseason, expansion crushed the conference with Utah State and San Jose State leaving for the Mountain West, Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio leaving for Conference USA and Texas State and UT-Arlington going to the Sun Belt.

The aforementioned six recent departures along with Idaho and New Mexico State will participate in the final season of WAC football and possibly the final season overall.

It's a sad end for a conference that once harbored Arizona, Arizona State and a national championship winning BYU team. It was the original superconference in 1996 with 16 members, but lost some steam after the Mountain West raided it in 1999. Boise State put the conference back on the map in 2007 with a Fiesta Bowl win against Oklahoma and with two Fiesta Bowl wins.

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