Lots of movement would hurt UH
By Ferd Lewis
This is one of those times when the University of Hawai'i tends to feel the distance behind every one of the 2,500 miles that separate it from the mainstream of college athletics.
Although the growing rumblings of conference expansion and realignment aren't on the agenda as the annual Bowl Championship Series meetings open today in Phoenix, they hang over this meeting — and every subsequent gathering to come these next couple months — like fallout from an Icelandic volcano.
With two conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-10, actively considering expansion and July 1, 2010, looming as the date by which announcements would likely be made to be effective for the 2011-12 school year, things figure to start getting interesting shortly.
Not to mention sweaty -palm nervous if you are the so-called mid-majors who are at the mercy of what takes place above and around them.
None more so than UH.
Try as it might — and UH has sounded out the Pac-10, put a calculator to travel subsidies and stepped up its hopes to build ties with Asia in recent months — the school has very little to sell beyond its current address, the Western Athletic Conference, right now and much to overcome.
In scouting for prospective members, conferences want candidates who will greatly enrich their piggy banks. Pronto. They want members who bring considerably more to the table than they will take away now.
Travel miles (of which UH has too many) and TV sets (of which it has too few) put UH at a disadvantage if a round of conference musical chairs gets cranked up this summer.
As such, UH's best-case scenario in the short term is that Pac-10 holds fast on its membership and the Big Ten either adds Notre Dame or chooses to remain at its current 11.
Otherwise, if the Pac-10 or Big Ten decide to supersize their lineup, the resulting tectonic shifts could leave UH more vulnerable than it is now, which is saying a lot.
If the Pac-10 and Big Ten pillage members from the Big East, Big 12, Mountain West, etc. to fill out expansion, as they are most likely to do, then the resulting tremors will undoubtedly be felt far down the food chain at a school near you.
For all Boise State's domination of the WAC in football, if the Broncos went to the MWC it would be a significant loss of more than a rival. But that's hardly UH's — or the WAC's — nightmare scenario. That would be losing multiple members, especially from the Pacific Time Zone, with even less to replace them.
For UH and the WAC every major gathering — and every juicy rumor they generate — is going to make the next couple of months hold-your-breath time.