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Colleges: BWC's add may subtract

December 19, 2011|By Barry Faulkner

San Diego State is set to join the Big West Conference in several sports, most notably men's basketball, for the 2013-14 school year.

The recent announcement was heralded enthusiastically by Big West officials, who are paid to be enthusiastic about such things.

For those who follow Big West basketball, the arrival of the Aztecs, currently surging under Coach Steve Fisher, clearly adds some legitimacy to a conference that has lacked impact on the national stage since before most of its current players were born.

Some would argue that Long Beach State, which won at Pitt earlier this season and is carrying the conference's banner well through one of the more demanding nonconference schedules in the nation, is already adding to the conference's reputation.

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But those that believe San Diego State's arrival will translate to increased bids in the NCAA Tournament might be misguided. The Aztecs, should they continue to roll under Fisher's already appointed successor Brian Dutcher, could conceivably dominate the conference tournament and seize the annual automatic bid.

This would deny the "get hot in Anaheim and advance," train of thought that fuels hope for a league that has an "on-any-given-night" competitive profile.

Only if a respected San Diego State team is upset in the conference tournament, could the conference get the chance to cash more lucrative checks that come with a date in the Big Dance.

And while current Big West member schools have been welcoming the Aztecs with open arms, Fisher and his staff were reportedly demoralized by moving from the Mountain West, which had the fourth best conference RPI last season, to the Big West, which ranked No. 29 in that category.

Only one of two elements crucial to the Orange Coast College football team ranking No. 2 in the state in rushing yards per game in 2012 is set to return next season, Pirates Coach Mike Taylor said last week.

Freshman running back Domenic Betts, who led the state in rushing yards with a school single-season record 1,772 and led the state in rushing touchdowns with 20, is expected back, Taylor said.

But Offensive Coordinator Jack Wigmore, whose use of multiple sets, including the smashmouth double wing helped OCC enjoy productivity on the ground, will not return, said Taylor, who is Wigmore's brother-in-law.

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