WAC football Preview Blog: Commish forum gets a little testy

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WAC Commissioner Karl Benson addresses the media at the 2009 WAC football preview in Salt Lake City, July 29.

By Troy Oppie

This morning was the WAC Commissioner's forum, a chance for Karl Benson to update the gathered media on what's been happening in the offseason and take questions.

Benson had several interesting announcements - which I'll get to in a second - but did seem perturbed on several occasions when asked about reports saying the Mountain West was 'targeting' Boise State as a team to add to its conference.

Benson accused the media of making that story up, saying he'd reviewed MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson's statements and talked to Thompson about it, and the issue of targeting any team for MWC expansion wasn't mentioned.

Benson also was asked to follow up on a comment made last year about how the WAC is the most recognizable of the non-automatic-qualifying conferences.

"Somehow I knew that question was coming," he quipped before saying that despite the MWC success last year with three teams in the top 15 at times, the WAC remains the most recognizable conference outside the BCS.

"I still have people that come up to me nearly every day and comment on a team from the Mountain West that they think is in the WAC," Benson said.

Other significant notes -

The WAC Board met in June and decided, among other things, that the conference would not be looking to expand to a tenth team.

"That would make it easier as far as scheduling in sports like basketball," Commissioner Benson said, but that he's been told not to focus on adding schools to the conference.

Bowl contracts are coming up for renewal and the WAC is planning to add a fourth bowl game to its slate, specifically eyeing to take over the Pac-10's contract with the Poinsettia Bowl. Nothing is official yet, but Benson hinted that talks with the P-bowl group are well advanced.

WAC officials are no more. The WAC, Mountain West, Big-12 and Conference-USA have joined into a referee co-op. Officials from each conference have been pooled, and will stay in their current groupings but be assigned randomly to games from each of the four conferences.

I'll be talking with Bronco coach Chris Petersen as well as Richie Brockel and Kyle Wilson (WAC defensive pre-season player of the year) after lunch - watch today's 5:30 eyewitness news for a bit of that conversation.

Also, coming up later: what the WAC Commissioner thought of the Mountain West's choice to fight the BCS alone, and how he thinks things might have been different.
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