PROVO — According to reports that have been circulating the past couple of weeks, Gonzaga could be jumping from the West Coast Conference to the Mountain West Conference.
How would the Zags’ departure affect BYU and the WCC?
"Obviously, it will hurt our league — that's a no-brainer. You don't need to ask me. You can answer that yourself,” said Cougar coach Dave Rose. “What we're going to do about it? You're asking the wrong guy."
Rose said he’s talked to Gonzaga coach Mark Few often about the future of the conference over the years.
“They’ve got some issues that they’re trying to work out with this league right now, some scheduling issues that are on the table,” Rose said. “They would like to see things approved in their favor. And if not, who knows? It’s real. The Mountain West Conference doesn’t solve all of your problems. They would have been a one-bid league this year if they didn’t have an upset in their (conference) tournament.”
Can BYU survive without Gonzaga in the WCC?
"Oh, yeah, absolutely. BYU has got a great tradition, a strong tradition,” Rose said. “What we bring to the fan base and Cougar Nation is pretty unique. We'll survive. We'll be fine. We'll have to make adjustments, but we'll be fine."
SCHEDULING ADJUSTMENTS: Some of those adjustments would involve non-conference scheduling. BYU would need to do more to enhance its NCAA Tournament resume.
Rose has addressed many times before how difficult it is to schedule a home-and-home series with teams from Power 5 conferences because most of those teams are unwilling to come to Provo.
The Cougars will probably need to schedule games on the road against Power 5 foes with no expectation of a return game.
That’s something that the NCAA Tournament committee made very clear on Selection Sunday. Saint Mary’s, despite winning 28 games, got left out the NCAAs and was relegated to the National Invitation Tournament as a No. 1 seed. The Gaels played a weak non-conference schedule.
“We’re all a little surprised,” Rose said. “Saint Mary’s, being in the top 25 for the majority of the second half of the season, you feel like that’s a pretty safe place to be. But obviously what qualifies to be in the top 25 is not what qualifies you for the tournament. We’ve all learned a pretty good lesson there as far as it’s about who you beat and how many teams you beat. It’s a pretty strong message that’s been sent to everybody who tries to get invited to that tournament.”
BYU is a No. 6 seed and will visit Stanford in the first round of the NIT Wednesday.
NIT BUBBLE: There were some nervous moments Sunday for the Cougars, who earned one of the last at-large bids to the NIT. Twelve teams lost in their conference tournaments over the weekend and claimed automatic bids to the NIT.
“It was intense. What was more intense was watching the week unfold,” Rose said. “It’s amazing how many years it went perfectly for us as far as what we needed to happen. But Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday it seemed not to be going well for us. I feel for some of these teams that didn’t get in.”