Posted by Walter
While I wait patiently for Frazier to respond to my argument that the SEC is overrated (perhaps his silence is a function of the strength of my argument.....or perhaps he's just really busy), I cam across this story from Sports Illustrated all but proclaiming the WAC as the best non-BCS conference school. Now, giving respect to non-BCS conference programs is a major point of interest for me. As our loyal readers may have been able to discern from some of the games I chose for Frazier and I to pick during the season, I am a firm believer that there is great football played outside the BCS Conferences. Given my affinity for "mid-major football", I admit that it is a bit ironic that I am the one calling out an article that raises awareness of these great teams, however singling out the WAC as the end-all-be-all of non BCS football is as foolish as it is irresponsible.
I concede that with the success of Boise State and Hawaii last season the WAC is somewhat of a sexy pick as the best non-BCS conference. But I am not here to debate the merits of that argument. Heck any conference that sports a Pat Hill led Fresno State team and a Chris Ault led Nevada team in addition to the aforementioned Boise State and Hawaii contingencies (Chris Peterson and June Jones respectively) has its fair share of good teams. But the quality of the league notwithstanding, annointing the WAC without so much as a nod to some of the other non-BCS leagues is just not fair or accurate.
Specifically, I have a problem with the ommission of two leagues (which happen to be two of my favorite conferences to watch):
1) The Mountain West
Perhaps Mr. McCartney felt that his article was only big enough for one Western U.S. athletic conference, perhaps he just forgot. Regardless, the MWC, NOT the WAC, is the best non-BCS conference in the land. What's that you say? The MWC roster of teams can't possible stack up against the Boise and Hawaii led WAC? Bullshit. In fact, not only does the MWC have better top tier teams, but it's a much deeper conference. Consider the following:
- Top tier teams - Brigham Young, Utah, and TCU are ALL in the class of Boise and Hawaii. In fact, given that Utah was THE non-BCS team to finally break through into a major bowl game, and that BYU and TCU are the only ones of the bunch to have ever even played in a national title game, one could make the argument that the MWC elite leaves the WAC elite in the dust. Moreover, as good as Boise and Hawaii were last season, I will contend that this year's TCU team is the best non-BCS conference team in the past 10 years. Both Boise and Hawaii have fumbled big time when they've played major conference opponents during the regular season, my money is on TCU staying with and possibly beating Texas when thay play this year.
- League depth - The WAC has solid second tier teams like Fresno and Nevada, and and up and coming team in San Jose State. But outside of that the league is pretty pathetic. Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Utah State were a combined 12-37 last year, and it's not exactly like any of those schools have a rich football tradition to rest on. The rest of the MWC, however, stacks up very favorably. While teams like Wyoming, Air Force and Colorado State struggled last season, all three of those schools have enjoyed major periods of success in the last decade. Even MWC bottom dwellers like San Diego State and UNLV have produced big time NFL talent in recent years (guys like Eric Wright, Adam Seward, Will Demps, the Gbaja-Biamila boys, Laroi Glover, Kyle Turley and of course Marshall Faulk all come to mind), while their WAC counterparts have far less to speak of (Chris Cooley from Utah State is the only notable alum).
2) The Mid American Conference
OK well I went a little overboard in my defense of the MWC so I'll keep this short. The fact that Mr. McCartney did not so much as mention the MAC in his article is embarrassing. While I am not sure the MAC even employs defensive coaches, you simply cannot argue with the quality of offensive players that have come out of MAC programs in recent years. Neither the WAC nor the MWC can compete with the list of former MAC players currently in the NFL. Most notably the MAC has: Ben Roethlisberger, Dwight Smith, Jason Taylor, Joe Staley, LJ Shelton, Michael Turner, and Chester Taylor). For those of you scoring at home those players have combined for: 2 Super Bowls, 2 first round picks, and 7 pro bowl appearances.
The MAC does not have the quality at the top or the depth to contend for best overall non-BCS team, but they clearly have the best lineage to the NFl and that counts for something!