WAC’s ‘Play Up’ Really Means A Big ‘Payout’

These WAC football meetings served notice that the conference race is apparently all but over. Boise State is the runaway pick, garnering all but one first-place vote in both the coaches’ and media polls, more understandable in the former as coaches can’t vote for their own teams. In the latter, some poor devil out in Las Cruces voted Nevada No. 1, one can only assume the result of a peyote experience out in the desert.

The WAC mantra of “Play Up” has led many members to schedule better non-conference opponents. In addition to Hawaii playing USC, Boise State has Virginia Tech and Oregon State, Fresno State plays Ole Miss and Illinois, Idaho goes to Nebraska, La Tech visits Texas A&M, Nevada goes up against Cal and BYU, San Jose State visits Alabama and Wisconsin back to back (ouch!), and Utah State opens at Oklahoma and plays BYU.

While it’s a good thing to schedule quality opponents, it’s of dubious value if you get blown out. And if say, on Sept. 4 San Jose State gets blitzed by Alabama while Utah State is whomped at Oklahoma, it could have the reverse effect.

But the big schools pay hefty guarantees, and the financially struggling mid-majors have little choice but to endure the occasional shellacking in return for a payday while hoping for the perfect storm that produces an upset. But respect only will come if WAC teams can be competitive in most of these games. Anything less and “Play Up” has a chance to become a put down.

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