By Brian Murphy
12:48 p.m. — Get your expansion/conference shake-up questions ready. I'm starting to chat in a few minutes.
12:40 p.m. — Here is the key quote from Benson:
"The other six WAC board members were under the belief that the action taken by the eight schools last Friday indicated a willingness and desire and intent to move this forward, knowing that the potential outcome would have included a BYU and would have stabilized and solidified the WAC into a very, very good position for the future."
12:24 p.m. — Benson's call just ended. I have posted highlights on various topics below.
11:53 a.m. — Long Benson press conference, but lots of interesting nuggets.
He opened the call by calling Fresno State and Nevada "selfish" and said he "disappointed" in their actions.
Benson compared their moves to the 1998 decision by eight teams to leave the 16-team WAC, drawing a clear contrast with Boise State's move. The Broncos were much more public about their desire to leave the league.
The two schools informed Benson of their decision during a three-way call at 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Benson says both teams are subject to $5 million buyout that is due within 60 days of yesterday's announcements.
"It's payable within 60 days and we expect payment within 60 days," Benson said.
He said all eight members agreed to the clause with seven teams, including Fresno State, agreeing on Friday and Nevada verbally agreeing on Saturday. He said there are seven signed agreements at the WAC and Nevada's verbal commitment is binding.
"We took that action to prevent or at least to deter a school from accepting an invitation," he said. "... In hindsight maybe it should have been $20 million."
He said the current six members are not subject to the agreement any longer.
Benson said the decision to ask for a $5 million buyout came from him and BYU.
"BYU recognized the need for the binding agreement to protect against exactly what happened," Benson said.
Benson said the league will look at Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision teams in expansion.
He added that teams closer to Louisiana Tech might be of more interest in the new WAC, mentioning Texas-San Antonio and Texas State as possibilities. Benson did not discount the idea of going to 12 teams with Eastern and Western divisions.
Benson also discussed UC-Davis, Sacramento State and Cal Poly as potential members.
He also answered questions about Montana.
Benson said the league is able to keep its automatic qualification for NCAA tournaments with six members. However, football requires eight members, which the WAC will have until at least the 2012 season giving the league time to recruit new members.
"We hope that there is still an opportunity to structure an arrangement that would allow BYU to be part of the WAC in some shape or form," Benson said.
Benson said part of the potential agreement with BYU was to provide "four to six" football games per year.
"We've been in discussions with BYU for several weeks, going back into early July when they indicated they were exploring going football independent and whether the WAC would be interested in arranging for their other sports. We indicated that we would," Benson said.
"From that it started a series of discussions about football scheduling and future football scheduling and it was ongoing and has been ongoing."
He said he has been in contact with BYU since early July, talked to school officials Wednesday and will talk to them again today.
Benson said reports that the WAC had contacted San Diego State and UNLV to join were "incorrect."
When can Fresno State and Nevada leave?
Benson made it clear that the conference would hold Fresno State and Nevada to the league for the next two seasons (2010-11 and 2011-12).
Boise State leaves the league before the 2011-12 school year.
Benson said the Broncos were not discussed as these plans took place.
"It was never really discussed," he said, regarding the possibility of Boise State remaining in the league.
Benson said he did not talk to Boise State on Wednesday.
10:29 a.m. — OK, so now it's the WAC turn. Commissioner Karl Benson will meet with the media in about 30 minutes to discuss the league's strategy for moving forward — without Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada.
Can the league survive with six teams?
Where does it turn for additional members?
What does Idaho do?
Is BYU still an option?
And just how mad is the commish at the turn of events, including Fresno State and Nevada agreeing to a "loyalty" clause before bailing?
• The Salt Lake Tribune has a report on why BYU is considering independence. In a word, money.
• Hawaii is mulling independence after the defections.
• Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore has 10-to-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy.
• Interesting story about former Oregon (and current Mississippi) quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
• Also, don't forget about our weekly chat: Today at 1 p.m. Sign up for an e-mail reminder below.
One last note: Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday. It was a crazy day, but the response was tremendous. Thanks.
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