That's right. I said that the Big 12, SEC bowl agreement that came out three weeks ago is great for BYU football. I know that a lot of other writers, bloggers and analysts are taking the opposite view, but frankly, they're wrong. Here is why.
The Worst Case
To explain my reasoning, let us first examine the worst-case scenario for BYU football. The worst case would be if college football shifted to four 16-team super conferences with BYU on the outside looking in. They and the rest of the "have nots" would be relegated to an almost FCS level with no chance for advancement. Chances to even play teams from the super conferences would be few and far between.
This situation came perilously close to occurring when the Big 12 was almost dissolved. Even after Texas'—and therefore just about everybody else's—initial decision to stay in the Big 12, many fans and analysts considered the Big 12's continued existence to be simply an abeyance of the inevitable.
Let's look at what would have happened if the Big 12 had dissolved.
The Pac 12 would take Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas and one other Texas school of their choice.
The SEC retaliates by taking Texas A&M and three ACC schools like FSU, Clemson and maybe Virginia Tech to bring their number up to 16.
The Big Ten picks up Missouri and its choice of schools from the Big East, possibly choosing teams like Pitt, Rutgers and maybe Syracuse or an ACC school.
Then the ACC invites TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia, UConn, Louisville and Cincinnati to get to 16.
That would leave BYU out in the cold with no hope for a seat at the big boys table.
Enter the Big 12, SEC Bowl Agreement
This is where the Big 12 and SEC bowl game alliance comes in. Due to excellent performances by Big 12 teams this past year, including strong seasons from soon-to-be members TCU and West Virginia, the Big 12 is arguably the second-best conference in college football behind the SEC.
In large part to their agreement with the SEC, the Big 12 moves ahead of the ACC in terms of conference stability. This advancement in the conference stability listings does two things.
For one, it delays, possibly for an extensive period of time, the onset of super conferences. Even though the ACC may currently hold the "least stable major football conference" position (the Big East no longer counts as a major football conference), it is still a stable conference with 14 current (as of today anyways) members.
They are unlikely to disappear from football relevance overnight and certainly not without a prolonged and vigorous fight.
In addition to that, realigning ACC teams among the other conferences would not be as convenient as dividing up the Big 12. The Pac 12, the Big Ten and the SEC can absorb the relevant teams citing relative geography and the ACC could claim some on the basis of basketball and/or desperation. If one was to offer up the most relevant ACC and remaining Big East teams for realignment, the Pac 12 would be left completely out in the cold. That leads us into out second result.
If four 16-team super conferences did evolve, BYU would not be left out. As it stands right now, the most likely situation for super conferences to arise would be for the Big 12, the SEC, and the Big Ten to bringing up the numbers to 16 by picking off the better football programs in the ACC and Big East remaining.
The ACC/Big East might reform as a basketball-focused conference, and the Pac 12 would have to find four more members from somewhere to achieve that magic number 16. In spite of certain school presidents' past objections, BYU would be one of the first schools offered should this situation occur.
The school presidents would look at their options like Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, UNLV, Nevada, San Jose St, Fresno St., New Mexico, and Idaho then suddenly forget whatever objections they had against the Cougars joining the Pac 16.
Not only that, but if the Big 12 had to add six more teams, the Cougars would likely be on their short list as well.
The Big 12, SEC bowl agreement is great for BYU football because it
1) Eliminates the BYU football doomsday scenario
2) Delays the advent of super conferences
3) All but ensures that if/when super conferences happen, BYU will have a seat at the table.