Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reactions to BYU's move to the WCC

By now, you're heard about it. BYU has left the MWC. They are headed to the WCC. Gonzaga now has competition. The league has a better overall profile. Their ESPN becomes that much sweeter.

We posted our thoughts on Tuesday. Here's what everyone else is saying:

Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News: Gonzaga has managed to supersede the league's middling RPI ranking to earn solid NCAA Tournament seeds in recent years but always has fought the perception that it is treading water or retreating during the conference schedule. The Zags even established a series with Memphis of Conference USA that is positioned within each team's conference season so they both face a high-level challenge on the way to Selection Sunday. Now, the Zags will have two big-time games against the Cougars, who've averaged among the top 20 Division I teams in attendance for three consecutive seasons and have reached the NCAAs four years in a row.

Andy Katz, Adding BYU is a major coup for the WCC, which is expanding to nine teams and adding a new member for the first time in 30 years, when it added San Diego and Gonzaga. The WCC will increase its 14-game men's basketball schedule to a true round-robin 16-game schedule for the 2011-12 season. The WCC will have to move the dates of its conference tournament, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, since the semifinals have traditionally been held on Sunday and the final on Monday. BYU is not allowed to play on Sundays. The WCC now has a major presence in Spokane, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco-Oakland; Los Angeles; and Salt Lake City. "This transforms the league with one move," said one source with knowledge of the situation.

Gary Parrish, CBSSports: Think about it: The Zags have won 10 consecutive conference championships, but folks discount the titles each year because they're mostly examples of what happens when one school overwhelms its league brethren in funding, facilities and commitment in general. When Gonzaga wins, we yawn. When Gonzaga loses, we rip. And though nobody would ever argue it's a bad setup (because it's actually a tremendous setup, which is among the reasons Few has passed on several job opportunities in recent offseasons), it must be frustrating to feel as if you must apologize for loading the trophy case year after year. Come next year, those days are over. The Zags might not win every WCC title over the next decade, but each time they add one you'll now be required to take it seriously. The addition of BYU (for the 2011-12 season) gives the league a second marquee program that operates at a high level, and it will give Gonzaga at least two and possibly three additional games each year against a school that's made the past four NCAA tournaments. That's the upside Few believes outweighs any potential negatives.

Jeff Eisenberg, The Dagger
: The lingering question facing the league's other programs is whether BYU's arrival will help the rest of the WCC bridge the gap with Gonzaga or further widen the gap between the haves and have-nots. Saint Mary's made a surprise run to the Sweet 16 last season and San Diego and Portland have enjoyed successful spurts, but no team has consistently matched Gonzaga's success during the past decade.

Eamonn Brennan, But what we're interested in is college basketball. To that end, it's difficult to say whether this is a wholly positive step for BYU hoops. But it's also hard to see it as a negative. Sure, the WCC is filled with teams whose arenas don't come close to the Mountain West's average hoops home, and BYU is going to be playing in front of high school-esque crowds for much of its regular season. Can BYU put together a schedule tough enough to keep it among the nation's elite? Can it dominate the conference enough to be consistently considered one of the best mid-majors in the country? (And now that it's in the WCC, is BYU actually, like, a real mid-major?)

Matt Norlander, CHJ: From a basketball perspective and what it does to the Cougs' strength of schedule, it's a demotion, no question. The Mountain West has produced multiple legitimate tournament-caliber teams over the past half-decade, while the West Coast Conference has occasionally given us an inconsistent second fiddle to Gonzaga but not much more. Top to bottom, the MWC is/was a better basketball league. Now, if Portland and St. Mary's can continue to ascend, the gap is not so grand. That remains to be seen. As of now, the Cougars will not be facing teams that can equate to UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico and Utah on a year-in, year-out basis.

Jon Wilner, Mercury News: What’s next for the WCC? Will it expand to become a 10 team league … and find a travel partner for BYU? You don’t expand just to expand — the right fit has to be available. Is Seattle, Pacific or Denver, the right fit? The WCC has been exploring its expansion options for more than a year and didn’t see reason to invite any of those teams, so why jump now? Remember, every team you add means two more conference games, which means two fewer non-conference games. That’s OK if the additions are two conference dates with BYU, because that helps your RPI. But you don’t want to add two conference games against a RPI 150+ team and thereby lose the opportunity to play two non-conference games against, say, RPI 50-100 teams.

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