Commissioner Karl Benson spoke to reporters for over an hour Thursday morning, amid the smoking ruins of the would-be WAC. Fed up with the summer game of Conference Expansion Red Rover, Benson's opening salvo was brimming with high dudgeon:
He opened the call by calling Fresno State and Nevada "selfish" and said he "disappointed" in their actions.
Compared to the glowing terms even conference officials who hate each other normally couch their resentment in, this is the bureaucratic equivalent of setting somebody's car on fire.
And what of those nasty rumors concerning Nevada's checkbook?
During the mayhem on Wednesday that saw Nevada and Fresno State bolt the WAC to agree to join the Mountain West Conference, news also broke of an agreement that WAC schools had recently signed that called for a reported $5 million buyout clause if any school decided to leave.
According to Nevada president Milt Glick, his school never signed the agreement.
True, says Benson, who called it a "recording error," but also said he wants Nevada to honor the verbal agreement and pay up within 60 days. Oh, and the few remaining members of the salted-earth conference are cut loose, which totally bodes well for the conference's future:
He said the current six members are not subject to the agreement any longer.
Speaking of that buyout agreement, as we speculated last night, it seems that BYU was indeed behind the ultimately futile efforts to shore up the foundations of the conference it was planning to bolt to:
Benson said the decision to ask for a $5 million buyout came from him and BYU.
"BYU recognized the need for the binding agreement to protect against exactly what happened," Benson said.
This is about where I start to wonder where Karl Benson gets off calling other people sneaky, but whatever. Is BYU still even within your grasp, Commish?
“At this point, I have no idea what they’re going to do. I would hope that the WAC is still an option for BYU and that no door has been closed.”
Greeeat. Options to replace the dearly departed?
Benson said the league will look at Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision teams in expansion.
He added that teams closer to Louisiana Tech might be of more interest in the new WAC, mentioning Texas-San Antonio and Texas State as possibilities.
All right, now's about where I start to understand why Benson's so crabby this morning. And it may get worse, still: SBN's Mountain West Connection is predicting BYU gets cold feet and sticks with the MWC, which will then add Houston to make a 12-team mighty-mid. Crazy, sure, but this is the summer of the conference do-si-do, and changing partners is just the fashionable thing to do.