By Staff Commentary
If you're a fan of Pilot basketball - or indeed any Pilot athletics - you received some good news this past week.
Following a rather tumultuous search for a new athletic home, BYU will become a member of the West Coast Conference for the 2011-12 season. The school fits in well as a private, faith based school with all the right priorities.
Boasting an impressive athletic rÃ©sumÃ©, next year Cougars are poised to challenge the top of the WCC in its flagship sport: Men's basketball.
But, as Coach Eric Reveno points out, this only gives the Pilots another chance to compete against elite competition.
"I don't think this changes the challenges." Reveno said. "But it does improve our rewards."
Not only is the national recognition of the WCC improved, but the forward-moving Pilots will receive more national exposure and more of a chance to prove themselves against tournament-caliber teams.
This is great news for Pilot basketball. BYU brings with it a program accustomed to competing on a national scale, appearing in the NCAA tournament each of the past four years, and consistently competing against leaders in the NCAA.
Just adding BYU to the WCC should substantially improve the Conference's prestige. Last year, the WCC finished 13 in the RPI rankings, just outside of Colonial Athletic and Conference USA.
And as Reveno points out, with BYU in the mix, the WCC may even move into conversation of the 7-9 range.
The addition of BYU also bumps the amount of conference games in the WCC schedule. Instead of the current 14-game format, the league will expand to a 16-game schedule in 2011.
This, however, is also good news for the Pilots, due to the strength of the BYU program. This provides an opportunity for the Pilots to improve their RPI during their conference games.
The strength of the BYU program should not worry Pilot fans. With the Pilots setting their sights on competing at the top of the WCC, and beating Gonzaga, BYU should fit right in.
Reveno acknowledges that if the Pilots are good enough to compete at the top of the WCC, then the team will be good enough to take on BYU.
And if the Pilot basketball team is ready, hopefully the Pilot fans will steel themselves and pack the Chiles Center to take on the massive tide of the BYU fans when they come to town.