Michigan. Syracuse. Penn State. Santa Clara. Arkansas.
What school is this again? Surely not Utah Valley, the school not good enough to get into the WAC, the school without a football team.
For the programs mentioned above, however, the Wolverines apparently make the cut. Volleyball, soccer, werstling and men’s basketball all feature dates against programs commonly seen in BCS polls in November, bracketed in March, or still playing in the summer. Many of those national juggernauts are coming here, to Orem, to play.
Somebody give the schedulers a raise.
For all the perception of UVU being BYU’s little brother, the Wolverines are bringing in some pretty hefty cousins, showing they are at least due consideration on the national stage, if not yet acclaim.
The latter will come with wins, and while these high-profile matchups will have zero impact on the conference standings, they will mean everything in terms of the long-term status of Wolverine sports.
Beating the Michigans, Penns and ‘Cuses of the NCAA would greatly enhance UVU’s self-proclaimed status as a program on the rise. Other conferences, ones with that elusive automatic qualifying (AQ) status, would take notice and advantage where the WAC was hesitant to do so.
Wins on the court and an invite to a bigger conference would mean more money in the coffers. The fiscal rewards would get the cycle moving faster, allowing UVU to further expand their facilities, recruiting pools and NCAA member teams.
The Wolverines, to their credit, have succeeded by largely snagging athletes who manage to slip between the cracks of the college recruiting process. If Utah Valley’s goal is to achieve permanent prime-time status, however, they’ll need prime-time talent.
UVU has a solid base of that already. Men’s basketball boasts returning All-American Isiah Williams, while All-Americans in baseball and wrestling just graduated, paving the way for future honorees to come.
It’s been enough beat up on the Great West Conference, leading to attention and respect from programs holding a status UVU wants to attain for itself. Whether they will or not likely depends on the outcome against these high-profile peers.
Starting this week.
Matt Petersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @SportsWriter93.