It was nice to see that ABC will televise two Western Athletric Conference football games next season.
The network will show the Nevada-San Jose State game on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m., and come back later in the season with the Hawai'i-Fresno State game.
Nevada fans have t be overjoyed at the news. They won't have to make the five-hour trip to the Bay Area and sit in dilapidated Spartan Stadium, and it's a game Nevada actually has a chance to win.
Having this game on is much better than if the networks had decided to show Nevada at Boise State. No Nevada fan wants to have to sit through another TV blowout like it's been the last two years. You have to wonder when Nevada will even give Boise State a game.
The WAC needs as much exposure as it can get, and these two games will help the league money-wise and also show that the WAC game is an exciting one, especially if you like teams that throw the ball.
With Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State coming into the WAC this year, I don't think you will see a significant drop in talent.
I'm sure that Idaho will be a cellar-dweller until it can recruit Division 1-A athletes, and believe me there is a big difference between Division 1-A and Division 1-AA. How much success will Idaho have locally is unknown considering it will be going up against Idaho State, Boise State and Washington State for personnel.
The conference will miss UTEP because I think Mike Price, until he departs for a bigger school, has the Miners on the right track. New Mexico State and Utah State are probably a tad less talented than either Rice, SMU and Tulsa.
There will be, however, a significant dropoff in the WAC when it comes to basketball.
UTEP will definitely be missed, and I may eat these words before the season ends next March, but I'm not sure Utah State is as good as UTEP though Utah State has produced back-to-back 20-win seasons under Stew Morrill.
Idaho doesn't figure to challenge anybody, and it may take Reggie Theus a couple of years at New Mexico State before they contend for a title.
The travel remains a problem in the conference, though Idaho and Utah State are easy places to get to. The problem the WAC faces this year is that it's going away from the travel-partner concept. Because of that and possibly Big Monday appearances on ESPN (9 p.m. Monday nights), teams could be playing on various nights of the week, and teams could possibly play Thursday at home and Saturday on the road.
Personally, I think it would be easier to be on the road for four nights than rushing around after a Thursday home game to get to a Saturday away game. The only plus is that kids would be in class longer at the start of the week.
Conference officials said they doubted that they would adopt the Saturday-Monday format that the Mountain West Conference used because of its Big Monday obligations. The MWC did that to insure that no team was at an advantage or disadvantage in the scheduling process, and it made sense.
It will be interesting to look at the conference schedule when it's released. I know in talking to Nevada's Cary Groth in March, she was concerned about kids missing too much school.
And, speaking of Nevada basketball, local fans may get only one or two home games before conference play starts, unless coach Mark Fox has made some progress since returning from Italy. If he hasn't, season-ticket holders won't have much to look forward to this year.