On one hand, give Utah Valley University credit.

With rumors swirling of the school's candidacy for Western Athletic Conference membership, we would expect President Matthew Holland and his Athletics Director Mike Jacobsen to go after it aggressively.

At the same time, some in the Salt Lake City media have taken up the school's cause, and that's fine, too. But to imply an invitation to WAC membership is being scuttled by Utah State is ill advised at best and stupid at worst.

Desperate people do desperate things.

UVU officials implied in a Thursday morning Salt Lake Tribune story that the Aggies have been "less than supportive" of UVU because "they don't want to compete with UVU for basketball recruits."

That's beautiful.

What more can you say?

Haven't the Aggies competed with Utah and BYU for the skills of in-state student-athletes since the beginning of time, so to speak? Don't forget, two Utah County kids, Tai Wesley and Tyler Newbold, were at the heart of Utah State's remarkable four straight WAC Championship teams.

Those two lived in the shadow of a couple of schools - BYU and UVU - but for whatever reasons they wound up at Utah State. I suspect Stew Morrill and his guys will remain competitive with in-state recruiters whether UVU competes in the Great West or the Big Sky or the WAC.

Remember, Utah Valley's desire is to join the WAC as a basketball-playing member. They do not sponsor football.

Perhaps those in charge of Wolverine athletics there in Orem are giving themselves too much credit. They perceive USU is standing in their way, and they are wrong. They have apparently made that perception their reality.

Utah State's reality is this: If the WAC doesn't remain a viable football-playing conference, it leaves Aggie athletics in a world of hurt, speaking of desperate people.

Boise State leaves the league July 1. Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii will follow a year later.

When the 2012-13 academic year begins, five of the current WAC members will be elsewhere. The league has covered that contingency adding Texas-San Antonio and Texas State. So in 2012-13, WAC football will include seven schools. That is enough.

Let's say New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech search for other conference options. That rumor is out there, but it gets little traction since neither school appears atop the expansion lists of other conferences. But, should they ever depart, the WAC's football goose is cooked.

Thus, it's Utah State's top priority, and it should be the WAC's as well: Explore every option that keeps football a WAC-sponsored sport. Why be in a hurry to add basketball-only schools in June?

Where will Utah Valley be in a year? Where they are right now. Just as anxious and ambitious. And just as available.

The Aggies aren't standing IN Utah Valley's way; they're standing UP for keeping WAC football viable.

That will be made clear during the WAC's June meetings in Park City.

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Craig Hislop is a longtime Cache Valley broadcaster, who can now be heard weekday mornings on KVNU. He is among a number of Cache Valley freelance writers whose columns appear in The Herald Journal as a part of an effort to expose readers to a variety of community voices. He is not an employee of the newspaper. He can be reached at craig@cvradio.com.

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