Last week I posted a column on KSL.com titled “Time has come for BYU Football to swallow its pride and join a conference.” Basically I laid out why it made sense based on the new playoff and bowl rules for 2014 for BYU to join either the Big East or rejoin the Mountain West Conference. My opinion was that BYU would have an easier road since the five lesser conferences now had a guaranteed spot in the new BCS bowls where the school as an independent did not. Most of the feedback on my twitter and in the comment section of the post from BYU fans were negative while the poll on the page had 63% of the voters agreeing with me.
Monday, Maryland officially announced it was leaving the ACC to join the Big Ten and that Rutgers would follow departing from the Big East. Reports are saying that Big East teams UCONN or Louisville could replace the Terrapins in the ACC. Of course I then received several tweets giving me flack along the lines of this:
— Mark R-K (@Mark_RK) November 19, 2012
Also Monday ESPN.com reported that BYU, Boise State and San Diego State have had disussions with the Mountain West to rejoin. This report was immediately refuted by the athletic director of San Diego State who said none of the schools have talked to the MWC.
Meanwhile for those BYU detractors that still want to go independent, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com laid out the bleak reality here:
BYU and Army were not mentioned in a press release detailing access last week. In fact, they have the worst access of the any of the 124 FBS schools because of their independence. They will each be automatic in the playoff if they finish in the top four. Otherwise, they will have to be selected by the human committee.
That has led to speculation BYU may rethink its independent status. A Mountain West source told CBSSports.com on Monday that member schools and BYU have been talking among themselves about the future, but only because those schools continue to play each other. No formal contact has been made with the Mountain West.
He went on to write that BYU and Army will most likely receive just $200,000 from the new playoff system while the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 will collect $40 million alone from their participation in the Rose and Sugar bowls whilte Notre Dame will receive $1.6 million annually.
And as for those Cougar fans still holding out hope that they’ll one day be invited into the Big 12–not so fast. Columnist Berry Tramel from the Oklahoman believes the Big-12 might go to 11 schools adding Louisville to prevent them from joining the ACC but not 12 writing that the conference doesn’t want to have a title game. Officials apparently believe a championship game could actually hurt the league knocking out one of their programs from the new four team playoff.
As for BYU, Tramel wrote geographically it doesn’t make sense anymore and there is that little issue of not being able to play nice:
BYU, I’m sure you know all about. Geographically, it’s a tough sell, since the Big 12 moved East. Norman is five miles closer to Provo, Utah, than Norman is to Morgantown, W.Va. and Stillwater is 32 miles closer to Morgantown than Stillwater is to Provo. In other words, it’s a long way from Morgantown to Provo. Plus, BYU has independence issues; even when the Brighams aren’t an independent, they don’t have a good reputation for playing nice with others in their conference.
So if you’re a BYU fan where does this leave you? Besides driving you crazy once again it leaves BYU officials have to decide whether they want to continue on their current path of remaining independent and traveling the country to give exposure to the school and the LDS Church or join perhaps in their mind a lesser conference. If they stay independent, athletic director Tom Holmoe will continue to have the almost impossible task of assembling a strong schedule every year to keep the fans happy while having limited options of teams to choose from as these mega-conferences continue to form.
Once again my opinion the school should do the smart thing and stop trying to go at it alone thinking you’re better than everyone else. If that means going to the Big East or rejoining the Mountain West Conference–so be it. In fact if Boise State and San Diego State happen to rejoin to go along with Utah State, Fresno State, Air Force, Nevada and San Jose State (a team BYU just lost too) it would be a very solid conference. It’s difficult enough that BYU would not be guaranteed to win it every year. But if they did they would almost assuredly get into one of the BCS bowls or playoff if unbeaten. Staying independent won’t guarantee that.
All I know is BYU better make the right choice otherwise they could become irrelevant and that would be a disservice to a program with their rich past and large loyal fanbase.