Monday, June 22, 2009

The bottom three

I think the Western Athletic Conference has five, six teams that are either very good, solid or pretty good. The bottom three - NMSU, Utah State and Idaho - have struggled since coming into the league four years ago.

The reality is that the last two years the Aggies seemed primed to separate themselves from the UtAgs and Idaho. And they did in an abstract sort of way. The Aggies put up gaudy offensive numbers at times and had some legitimate talent on their team. They had an explosive element with the likes of Chris Williams, Chase Holbrook, A.J. Harris, Derrick Dubois and Nick Cleaver that were legitimately tough to defend. They also beat UTEP the last two years, won in Reno and gave some other solid conference teams some legitimate scares during that period.

Alas, they also lost to Idaho last year, Utah State the past two seasons and at times have looked awful. While for people who saw them every day it seemed like they were close to turning the corner, for passive followers of the program and general followers of the league, they were packaged with the UtAgs and Vandals.

Here's what I'm getting at. The league needs these three teams to do well. The past four years the three have formed a soft underbelly for the conference. Many are saying that Utah State should be better this season. They have some pieces, they still have some holes. It starts on their home field, where they host Nevada, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Boise State. If the UtAgs can take two of those games and steal and conference game or two on the road, that's a major step, maybe even steps in the right direction.

I've said it before, I think NMSU will be a good home team. To see it through, they need to beat USU and Idaho at Aggie Memorial. If they can upset Nevada or Fresno State when one of those teams visit Las Cruces, yes, it would help the individual program and the WAC.

Idaho as well. There home conference schedule features La. Tech, Fresno State, Hawaii and Utah State. Get a few upsets in there. Battle in the other ones. It will be a shot in the arm.

These teams having success will help the WAC, as it will bring further legitimacy to the conference and push the top tier teams each and every week they take the field.


Anonymous said...

The counterpoint to your argument is that if the bottom teams do better and knock off some of the usually better teams, then those better teams have more losses, making them look weaker to the casual observer. The net result is that the conference suffers.

What helps the conference the most is to win games against nonconference foes. And for that to really help, the wins need to be against teams that have some semblance of credibility. Sure, it would raise the Aggies stock quite a bit if they upset Ohio State this year. But realistically that is extremely unlikely, but the games against UTEP, UNM and SDSU are the ones that ultimately they need to win consistently to raise their profile and that of the WAC.

On paper, all three of those would seem to be possible, although if the odds were laid today, the Aggies would be an underdog against all three. We need the money that an Ohio State or Georgia or Auburn can lay on us, but we don't need the kind of beatdown they usually lay on us. IF instead of Ohio State and Prairie View we played two middle level or low level BCS schools, we might be better off in the long run. We can stand a chance against a Baylor, an Iowa State or an Indiana. Can't two of those types make as much as one body bag game? We would have one less home game, but it could be worth it in the long run.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see the three WAC bottom feeders get better, especially NMSU!!

The WAC's top six team are pretty good. Teams 7-9 need to get better and surprise some people.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem of nonconference play is getting home and home games against higher-tier schools, AND putting more mid tier achoos on the schedule as well. We should just drop the Division II schools and Division I schools that should be in Div II. Beating a team with a lower RPI and SOS doesn't do anything for the Aggies.

I'd be more interested in seeing the Aggies lose to Oregon University here than seeing the Aggies pound the Catholic School for the Challenged.

Anonymous said...

10:42 is right on point. I too have wanted to see a more realistic game. Thats what got me jacked when they announced the home and home against Wyoming last year only to have them pull out. We need a Baylor, Washington, maybe even a Duke. Teams from bigger better conferences that we are even with or at least closer to.

Come on would you rather see a 35 point victory over Alcorn St. or a 3 point victory over Baylor?

While I understand coach Walk may have wanted a winnable game on the schedule I hope that the AD doesn't schedule multiple 1AA squads, like the previous staff did.

FSDogs1 said...

Let's be honest. New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State have all been really disappointing additions to the WAC in football. But it's not much of a surprise.

But I would argue the whole conference has to do a better job of representing the WAC. Outside of Hawaii, Boise State and Fresno State there really aren't any other teams that make national noise. Nevada should be strong this year, but it never beats anyone in non-conference.

And, really, Boise State has only won one road game against a BCS-conference team ever. ONE! And that was last year at Oregon. Same with Hawaii -- the Warriors only win big non-conf games on the islands. Fresno State is the only program that consistently picks up wins over BCS-conf teams, but then the Bulldogs also consistently lose to bad programs at least once a year like La Tech last season.

Anonymous said...

I agree FSDogs. If FSU won the conference games like they do non-conference, they would be the consistent top team in the WAC.