6 Reasons BYU Should NOT Look East
The Big East is no longer the Big East. Let's face it, when the schools in your league are in Boise, Idaho and San Diego, you are not an "eastern" league. What you are is an also-ran that was run aground by bad management over the last 30 years as people expected those 30 years to be the same as the previous 100 years. It wasn't so. Failure of vision cost the Big East its identity, character and fame. Now it is a collection of wannabes, teams who want to be AQ, but now that there is no AQ status can't even be that.
You have to wonder if San Diego State and Boise State aren't looking for an out clause in their contracts with the Big East on how it was represented that they would be part of an AQ conference, and now they aren't. I am sure the lawyers are looking at the language of that presentation.
But as for BYU, which is the main target of this article, they should NOT be looking at the little Big East that was, and realize aligning themselves with the little ol' Big East is a has-been league. I think they already do, that is why they turned the Big East down. As for the fans, many still seem to think it is a good idea. I will present to you six good reasons why looking at the Big East is not a good idea for BYU.
The first is Notre Dame.
Notre Dame needs opponents. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are moving closer and closer, and for the same reason Utah may not be playing BYU regularly, Notre Dame is scrambling for a big-name team it can play on a consistent basis.
Well actually several of them as they play five Big Ten and Pac-12 teams this year, and six next year. But wait, yes, there is more. The next two years after that, it plays five teams and then four. But each year, their schedule is getting easier and easier. Each year as they are frozen out of the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, Notre Dame is playing the likes of UMass, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Navy and Syracuse.
Syracuse was a pitiful 5-7 last year having an embarrassing win against the Rhode Island Rams, 21-14, and having an embarrassing loss to USC, 38-17. This is not the kind of team you play to strengthen your schedule or get you to the new four-team playoff scenario for a national championship. In short, Notre Dame needs BYU and can see ahead that the Pac-12 and Big Ten teams will become harder to schedule on a regular basis.
If BYU can become the new Stanford for Notre Dame, that game alone each year will give BYU a bigger payout in TV revenues and exposure than playing for 10 years in the MWC.
Next up, (arrrgghhhh, I hate to say this) Utah.
Norm Chow is gone. But Utah is solid. Its offense will solidify into a good powerful team that will win 4-5 games a year in the Pac-12 for the next 10 years. The Utes will never out recruit Oregon, Stanford, USC, UCLA or Washington.
They will be able to balance themselves with Arizona and Arizona State, and beat out Oregon State and Washington State. So that means in the new lineup, Utah has found a good fourth, fifth or sixth place each year in the final ranking of the Pac-12.
They will be scary and almost make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game every now and then, and they will even upset a few teams that over look them when visiting Salt Lake. I hate to admit this—and all my detractors will now gloat—go on, you deserve it—Utah has arrived and made a great decision in moving to the Pac-12.
The Utes will share in revenues far beyond their wildest dreams. No more playing patsy teams like Wyoming and New Mexico, no more poor attendance at games featuring athletes who could no more play on Sunday than play a grand piano at the Metropolitan. And yes, here is a little crow eating, and that includes some of the past BYU teams.
So how does BYU benefit? Easy. No more big brother/little brother syndrome. Each team had its decades of dominance, several in fact, and each team seemed to just have the others number at times. There is now no more friendly rivalry. That is all gone.
Utah is busy offering a scholarship to anyone who BYU is interested in. In time, that will be seen as foul play, and in time it will create such a sore spot among BYU fans that they will say enough is enough and not want to have anything to do with Utah and that rivalry.
Utah will have moved on to the bigger stage, more money, better players and will consistently for the next five years hand BYU some embarrassing loses. Perhaps longer if BYU doesn't find an offensive coordinator and develop a quarterback mill.
So the loss of Utah as one of the BIG teams BYU will play each year is a good reason not to look toward the Big East. Why you ask? Because the Big East does not offer the kind of quality teams that Utah did. Let's face it, Utah has had quite a good run for the past 10 years, and you can't pick a team in the Big East that has been as good as Utah, so why would you want to step down and go play the little guys in the east you were trying to get away from in the Mountain West?
Oh this galls me, so thank you Utah for joining the Pac-12 and setting BYU free to look for competition that better suits its mission, values, and standards. Excuse me, I have to choke up some feathers.
Next up, the BCS.
The BCS. This one is easy. You all know the refrain, "ding dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch the witch is dead." Well as the Munchkins sang that with such glee all football fans the nation over are singing a similar tune. "Ding dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch the BCS is dead." Yes my friends, the BCS and AQ status is gone. Now I ask, then what lure hath the Big East now?
They are far far away. They have fewer quality teams than the Mountain West (in its heyday) and they have as poor of turnout for their games as any Mountain West team. Did I mention they are as expensive to travel to as a bowl game, and there is no way the money would ever equal the cost of playing them?
No longer is the BCS the gateway to the Football Final Four Show. (Soon to be also known as the conference playoffs, plus one). For BYU to join the Big East now does not even remotely allow them a chance to crash that dance.
I challenge you to name a team in the Big East in the next 10 years that will send a representative to that final four playoff. Not going to happen. To join that sinking ship would only mean someone in Salt Lake actually understood and planned for pay out $25 million to get out of it 10 years from now.
BYU saved the money and time. It is where they would be 10 years from now, looking for a way to get into the big dance without an also-ran conference hanging around its neck.
Next the Big 12.
Really this should be Texas. Texas football. There are five temples in Texas, and the membership is growing. Texas will within the next decade have more members than Arizona. Especially if the housing crises in California gets any worse and Mormons stop moving from California to Arizona. Texas could be the fourth most populated state in Mormondom, and that means TV time, ratings, exposure.
Of cities in the top 10 TV markets, Texas has three. The Mormon church also has a temple in each of those cities and over 12 stakes in each. A temple is nearby every major college in Texas, which means population density of LDS faithful are near those schools. BYU can put fans in those seats, and exposure for Texas schools on BYUtv and ESPN.
Now contrast the Big East. There are almost as many members of the church in Texas as there is on the entire East Coast, north to south. And membership in Texas is growing faster than on the East Coast. The Big East is of no population density concern and draws no big crowds for BYU. But in Texas, the membership in San Antonio could fill the Alamo Bowl with ease.
The problem may be BYUtv. Not really. Texas TV isn't slowing the Big 12 down, so why should BYUtv? In fact, it should be an add. That is one more TV station carrying one more Big 12 game, over and over. The more BYU would be exposed, the more Texas teams, and yes Oklahoma, and Kansas teams would be exposed.
BYU did reasonably well in its No. 2 sport of basketball, and that would fit into the Big 12 lineup. The Mountain West audience where there are 400,000 Mormons in Idaho, nearly 400,000 in Arizona, 1.8 million in Utah, 175,000 in Nevada may also be a good recruiting ground for Texas teams. Not among the Mormon youth, but among all of their playmates making up over three percent of the nation's population, and who is their competition for the Texas teams? Utah and Boise State.
So what is the Big 12 waiting for? I have no idea. I wasn't in the meeting. But my guess is, they are looking to see if BYU can man up and do well against Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and others for a year or two. Meaning for the next three years.
Then when BYU has its recruiting pipeline full, and a solid program that won't be a doormat school for the Big 12 and will actually draw households to watch Big 12 sports, then I think the Big 12 will have an open door for BYU. And that is worth waiting for, and making happen, because, by and large, any team that comes out of the playoff game between the SEC and Big 12 will be the favorite for the national championship.
That is the key, that game. Not any other. The bowl game between the SEC and Big 12 is the key to the national championship for the next 10 years. Watch and see if I am right.
Next up: Recruiting
OK, here we have to get honest with ourselves. As Cougar fans, and yes, I am one, but I also like other teams and am real hot on Clemson right now. But as a Cougars fan, dyed blue, we have to admit just what the recruiting base of BYU is. It is the Mormon faithful youth.
The second group? Their friends and playmates.
The third group? Strong Christian youth looking for a top program with strong moral values, good education and reputation. A chance at the national title doesn't hurt.
Let's look at how BYU stacks up.
Group 1. There is no question that those young men who are true to the faith for which martyrs have perished will chose BYU no questions. The mission, values, principles, atmosphere, moral girls, smoking, booze, all add up, BYU. (BYU girls are prettier but that is a side benefit, look but don't touch).
The athlete that is willing to trade what BYU uniquely offers for the opportunity to do and don't tell, will sell his soul to any other school, and that is the lure of Utah, and any other school. The old saying is, "If you are worthy, you go to BYU, if not, you go to Utah."
More and more this standard will set BYU apart among its faithful. If you are playing for you, go to the U. If you are playing for a greater cause, and for life skills, life values, you go to BYU. BYU will get half of the best recruits, Utah 20 percent to 25 percent, and the other schools around the country will divvy up the rest.
Group 2. What I call the comrades group. "I'm going to BYU, come with me." The excellent athlete attracted by a friendship and the people he knows who are going to BYU. He will be attracted in his visit to not only the uniqueness, but a sense of home. His friendship with the moral man with high standards will suddenly be translated into a whole university of people just like his friend who doesn't smoke, drink, swear, carouse with girls, leer, tattoo themselves,or do drugs.
He will step into a world where "being straight" has a whole new meaning, and that meaning will suddenly feel different, feel comfortable. It will fit. The result, 20 percent will head to BYU. The rest will respect BYU, and at some time in their life wish they had gone, but in the end, the offer from USC or Oregon will have been better.
Group 3. I call this the "mamma told me to." As BYU gets the exposure it wants there will be a wave of mothers out there staring at the TV screen saying over the back of the couch to their son with a bowl of popcorn in his lap, "Are you kidding, they are really like that? Have they called you? Did you send them your video?" And BYU is going to begin to see a trickle, then a river flowing its direction.
What does that have to do with the Big East? Nothing. That is the point The schools and populations around the Big East aren't supporting that kind of mother these days. The Bible belt, the South, the Southwest, mountain states, even the Midwest. But the East does not have that typical Bible reading "momma" looking over her boys shoulder thumping him on the head with a Sports Illustrated to "keep his act clean." That momma will be a key to the future of BYU, and for that, the Big East is not the drawing card for her, so there is no sense adding it to your hand. The Big East buys BYU nothing.
So the Big East fails here 3-for-3. Next up: Quality Wins
Let's face it. The road to a national championship does not go through Boston, Charlotte, Memphis, Tulsa, Cincinnati, Louisville, Laramie or Salt Lake. The road to the national championship is paved through the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Yes, there is some paving up north in Michigan and Ohio, and some out on the West Coast. But other than that, if you are going to play to win, you are going to have to work your way into where the big boys play, and there are no paved roads to the national championship in Big East territory; that is why teams are leaving the Big East.
The current turn of events shows what most real football fans, not just fans of a team, have known for decades. There are four top conferences in collegiate football. The SEC, the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. After that, you have the teams those four conferences pick on for pickup games at the beginning of the season.
BYU has had a wonderful opportunity in the last few years with some success, beating Oklahoma, and some miserable failures, Florida State, Ole Miss and Texas. Well, here we go again, more crow, even Utah and Boise State and Tulsa proved themselves to be doing better.
Games BYU should have won, or if they did, should have won by bigger margins eluded them. To beat Ole Miss the way they did was put down to "luck." That is not a quality win. BYU needs quality wins. Beating Tulsa with your defense because there was no offense is not a quality bowl win. It wasn't a quality bowl, or a quality opponent, and BYU still nearly lost.
Barely beating Utah State or UCF may look good in the win-loss column, but stop, don't look at the score, and for heaven's sake don't look at the game films or replay. BYU wasn't a quality team last year, and didn't beat a quality team last year. Or the year before. And hasn't since beating Oklahoma. And before them the list gets kind of bare.
Notre Dame, Oklahoma, a ranked TCU, ranked Utah, ranked Oregon State, and those are the quality wins in the last 10 years. That should be the results of one year if BYU wants to get to the Big 4 Playoffs. Five quality wins though still means teams in the SEC will have eight quality wins, and a conference championship, (nine) and a quality bowl win (10) all superior to anything BYU can put up and being in the Big East won't change that.
Sound hopeless? Nope. Next up see why.
Independence Means Flexibility
I picked the picture above because this is one of the signature games of BYU's history. The year was 2009. They had a great year. They beat a No. 3 team for the first game, Oklahoma, a No. 21 team, Utah at the end, capped it with beating a No. 18 team, Oregon State.
They lost two games. No. 8 TCU, and to unranked Florida State, 54-28. It wasn't that close.
And therein is the rub as they say. How could BYU beat a No. 3, 18 and 21, and fall so miserably to an unranked team. Simple. Preparation.
TCU spanked BYU, 38-7. Florida State did the same. Why? Preparation. Playing Wyoming does not prepare you for playing against the speed of Florida State, or the size of TCU.
By joining the Big East BYU will yet again be left "unprepared" for those big games against the big teams whose roads to the national championship are well paved and even have more than one lane as last year's championship showed in the rematch game called a national championship game.
BYU needs to have a 2009 season, and beat TCU, and beat Florida State. And it will need to do that not for just one year, or two, but three and four just like Boise State and (oh this is painful, I'm going to throw up, Utah did. That is how Utah got into the Pac-12 and Boise got into the Big East (not such a big deal now though).
BYU needs to be prepared in all things whatsoever, and get the kind of help they need that will prepare them to win, not just play and be competitive on the national scene. No one wants to see a competitive team, they want to see the underdog take it to the Virginia Tech's of the country. Or like Utah (I'm nauseous) did to Oklahoma in... wait, wait, that was Boise State again. Oh thank goodness. No I guess I was thinking of the Sugar Bowl and Utah beating Alabama. OK, I admit it, I rooted for Utah in that game.
In any case, the Big East won't get you that game against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, or LSU in the Cotton Bowl, or Miami in the Orange Bowl, or Oregon in the Rose Bowl, or any game that will now follow thereafter.
The Big East is not a good deal for BYU, and the future of BYU and its success lays in the flexibility it has in scheduling Texas, and Notre Dame, and other schools, to get the quality wins, and prove themselves as they grow into the power they want to be.
Independence will supply that, even if they have to play a few Weber State's along the way. Done right, with the right marketing, BYU should be able to prove itself over the next three years so that the Big 12 will come calling, again, and this time, a match made in heaven will be consummated.
That is, if heaven makes those kind of matches.