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WAC adds Cal State-Bakersfield, Utah Valley

WAC adds Cal State-Bakersfield, Utah Valley

DENVER (AP) The Western Athletic Conference is adding Cal State-Bakersfield and Utah Valley next year as it punts away football after a half-century on the gridiron.

The 50-year-old WAC is the first Division I conference to give up on football since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995, but the additions of Cal State-Bakersfield and Utah Valley assured at least for now that it won't also go the way of the SWC, and cease to exist altogether.

``I want to emphasize this is the first step of what I would anticipate to be a multi-step process,'' interim commissioner Jeff Hurd said Tuesday. ``The WAC certainly has more work to do but we're pleased today that we're able to take this step and I think it sends a message that the WAC is here to stay, that we will be here not only in `13-14 but beyond as we in essence reinvent ourselves.''

Hurd said he will continue looking for other new members as the league makes the transition from an FBS conference to a non-football playing Division I conference in 2013-14.

A big carrot is the two-year exemption that allows the WAC to have an automatic qualifier for the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments and other team sports even though the league doesn't have the requisite seven schools.

The makeup as it stands now is: Denver, Seattle, New Mexico State and Idaho and the two new schools, although Idaho has been in discussions with the Big Sky about returning to that conference. If Idaho bolts, the WAC would have to scramble to add another institution or lose its automatic NCAA tournament berths.

Hurd said his goal is to return football to the WAC some day. He'll need to attract at least four more programs. The only two schools that have football, Idaho and New Mexico State, have plans to play as FBS independents next season.

``Our priority right now is to move forward as a non-football conference and try to build it in that direction,'' Hurd said.

The WAC's five other football members - Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas State, Utah State and Texas-San Antonio - are leaving the league after this year. San Jose State and Utah State are joining the Mountain West. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio will join Conference USA, and Texas State will go to the Sun Belt in 2013.

Hurd said he hopes to build the league to at least 10 institutions, ``but we had to get to where we are today first before we can go further. Our next objective is to at least get to eight.'' He said he's in almost daily discussions with schools about joining the WAC.

Like Utah Valley, Cal State-Bakersfield, currently an independent with an enrollment of 8,200, is a relative newcomer to the Division I ranks. The Roadrunners will join the WAC in 16 of 18 sports - their wrestling and women's water polo programs aren't sports that are sponsored by the WAC.

Utah Valley is a member of the Great West Conference. Fourteen of the Wolverines' 15 intercollegiate sports - all except wrestling - will compete in the WAC. In 2009, Utah Valley, with an enrollment of 33,000, became the first institution to leap to Division I directly from junior college status.

``It's a great opportunity for our school,'' Utah Valley athletic director Mike Jacobsen said. ``We've worked long and hard for the past five years to bring this to fruition. The WAC has always been No. 1 on our list, we've always wanted to be a part of them.''

Both new schools will be involved in any discussions about further WAC expansion even though their membership isn't effective until July 1, 2013, Hurd said.

The WAC has been around for half a century but found itself irrelevant in football in the rapidly changing landscape of conference realignment. It has recently lost Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii while adding Denver and Seattle as non-football playing members.

The league was formed in 1962 with six schools - Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming - that jumped ship long ago. Colorado State and Texas-El Paso were also long-time members that left, leaving the league with a hodgepodge of smaller schools.

The high mark of the WAC's football existence was BYU's national title in 1984 under coach LaVell Edwards. Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer won the league's only Heisman Trophy six years later, and Boise State had two unbeaten seasons (2006, `09) in its nine-year stint as the league's heavyweight.

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Reach out to AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and other Wizards set to climb plenty of All-Time lists in 2018-19

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and other Wizards set to climb plenty of All-Time lists in 2018-19

Last season alone saw John Wall set the Wizards/Bullets franchise records for career assists and steals, as well as the mark for assists in a single season. Bradley Beal moved all the way up to second in franchise history for career threes.

This year should produce plenty of milestones for the Wizards, if their players continue their recent career pace. Here is a look at some milestones to expect from Wall, Beal, Dwight Howard and others…

John Wall

— is likely to move into the top 40 all-time for career assists this season (he’s currently 64th). He averaged 783.3 per season from 2014-17, that pace would push him past Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Walt Frazier and others this year

— is currently 10th on franchise list for games played, only five games behind Phil Chenier. A full 82-game season would put Wall at fourth in franchise history and push him past guys like Jeff Malone, Gus Johnson and Brendan Haywood

— is 559 minutes away from 20,000. Only two players in franchise history have reached that mark with the team: Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes

—  is 409 points from passing Unseld (10,624) for third on franchise scoring list

— is 73 steals away from 1,000

Bradley Beal

—  is seven three-pointers away from passing Gilbert Arenas (868) for the most threes made in franchise history; based on his current pace, Beal could hit his 1,000thcareer three this season

— Beal could become one of only eight players to reach 1,000 threes by the end of their seventh NBA season. That list includes James Harden, Stephen Curry, Ray Allen, Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard

-is 241 three-point attempts away from passing Arenas (2,430) for most in franchise history

Dwight Howard

— is only one point away from 18,000, he should get to 19,000 this season; Howard is 383 points from passing Tracy McGrady (18,381), 824 from passing Isiah Thomas (18,822), 942 from passing Scottie Pippen (18,940)

— if he plays a full 82-game season, Howard will pass these players in career games played: Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Manu Ginobli, George Gervin and Charles Barkley

— is 79 minutes away from passing Unseld on the all-time list, with a full season he could move into the top 50 all-time for minutes played

— is 648 rebounds from passing Hakeem Olajuwon (13,748) for 14th all-time, is 669 from surpassing Unseld (13,769) for 13th; Howard has already passed Shaquille O’Neal, Barkley, Dennis Rodman, Patrick Ewing and others

— is 40 blocks away from passing Manute Bol (2,086) for 17th all-time, is 73 from passing Shawn Bradley (2,119) for 16th, is 91 from eclipsing Ben Wallace (2,137) for 15th

Otto Porter

—  is 77 threes away from 500

Austin Rivers

— is 88 threes away from 500, 13 assists away from 1,000, 174 rebounds away from 1,000 and 105 minutes away from 10,000

Pro Basketball Reference was used for this research

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NFC East Update: Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys muddled at the top, but Giants mess at bottom

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NFC East Update: Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys muddled at the top, but Giants mess at bottom

The Redskins wasted a big opportunity to jump to the front of the NFC East standings with an ugly loss to the Colts. The good news, however, is that nobody in the division got to 2-0 either, and the standings look quite jumbled through two weeks. 

Here's the weekly update:

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

That loud noise you heard were jaws dropping around the NFL when the Buccaneers and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick posted 27 points on the Eagles. Tampa's hot start under Fitzpatrick is a story for a different day, but the vaunted Philadelphia defense looked quite beatable on their recent trip to Florida.

That loss will soon be forgotten though as QB Carson Wentz is set to return this weekend for the Eagles. Before he went down with a knee injury late last season, Wentz was an MVP candidate and a touchdown machine. He returns to a banged up Philly squad, particularly at wide receiver. The Eagles will need Wentz magic right away, and their defense to get back to normal, to again look like defending Super Bowl Champs. 

Up next: 9/23 vs Colts

Washington Redskins (1-1)

After a dominant Week 1 win in Arizona, the Redskins played a terrible game in their home opener, losing to Indianapolis 21-9. Almost everything that worked so well in Week 1 - the run game and stopping the run - didn't work in Week 2.

Jay Gruden, Alex Smith and the defensive line all need to be better to have a chance in Week 3 against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Two disturbing trends for Washington: lack of production at WR and lack of pressure on opposing QBs. Ryan Kerrigan needs to get going for Washington, quick. 

Up next: 9/23 vs Packers

Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

The Cowboys offense looked bad Week 1 against the Panthers, and only looked slightly better Week 2 against the Giants. The good news is the Cowboys defensive front looks strong. They sacked Eli Manning six times last week and dominated rookie RB Saquon Barkley.

At some point the Cowboys will need to score, and that doesn't look easy. QB Dak Prescott is averaging less than 150 yards per game, good for 30th in the NFL. Dallas will continue to lean on its run game, but if the passing doesn't improve even Ezekiel Elliott won't find much room against defenses stacked to stop him. 

Up next: 9/23 @ Seattle

New York Giants (0-2)

Things look ugly in New York. In two games, the Giants have scored just 29 points and Eli Manning has been sacked eight times. Rookie RB Saquon Barkley looks like a big time talent, but outside of one big run in Week 1, hasn't been able to consistently move the ball.

The discussion in New York is heating up if the Giants messed up by drafting Barkley with the second overall pick when so many strong QB prospects were available. It doesn't help that the New York Jets took Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, and he looks like the real deal. After all, Manning is 37. 

Up next: 9/23 @ Houston

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