With Jake Heaps, Ross Apo, Zac Stout, Will BYU Be First Mid-Major Rose Bowler?

GoBears 2008Analyst IJune 4, 2009

28 Sep 1996: Members of the BYU Cougars football team sprint onto the field from the lockerroom while carrying a large team flag during pre game introductions before the Cougars 31-3 victory over the SMU Mustantgs at Cougar Stadium in Provo, Utah. Mandato

Fans of BYU football will certainly be hopeful for their team's future after Jake Heaps—the top quarterback in the nation—chose the Cougars over Washington.

Former Texas (soft) commit Ross Apo, a highly-regarded (and 6'4") wide receiver, and Zac Stout (fifth-ranked middle linebacker, Scout.com) also verballed, making it an impressive package deal for a team that won 10 games in 2008.

All three recruits are LDS, but Heaps himself was apparently instrumental in helping ensure that Apo and Stout followed him to Salt Lake City.

And thanks to BCS rules recently put in place, the team could soon be in the hunt for a bowl no non-BCS school has ever participated in: the grandaddy of them all—the Rose Bowl.

BYU rival Utah's perfect 2008 season and 2009 Sugar Bowl win set the bar for future Mountain West success very high. By beating a highly-ranked SEC team, the Utes showed that they had a compelling case not only for national recognition, but for a top-two ranking as well.

A few days earlier, USC had finished up their third consecutive win over a Big-10 opponent. Since World War II, only a few teams outside the Big-10 or Pac-10 have played in Pasadena, no matter what their record or pedigree.

Notre Dame, for example, has made one appearance—in 1925. Texas, of course, recently played in the Rose Bowl two years in a row, but one of those meetings was in the National Championship Game.

But after the new BCS contract takes effect, all this will change. If the Pac-10 or Big-10 champion qualifies for the National Championship, the Rose could then select a BCS-eligible team from the Mountain West, WAC, or other non-BCS conference instead of a second-place team such as Illinois.

Elitist or not, the Rose has a decades-long tradition of pitting the Pac-10 against the Big-10. But fear not, Pac-10 fans, the above change would apparently only take effect once in the four-year BCS cycle.

Besides, in a given four-year span, the MWC (or WAC) leader is probably going to be as good or better than the Pac-10 or Big-10 runner-up, at least once anyway. Utah was clearly a better team than Illinois last year, for example (although the Sugar Bowl ended up being a great showcase for them).

In the meantime, BYU has scored a major coup, with the added bonus of further rankling Washington fans who hoped local star Heaps would stay close to home.

"Heaps to Apo" could be a refrain that MWC defenses become sick of hearing, while Stout takes some of the sting off of the disappointment of losing Manti Te'o during the last recruiting cycle.

And there is one thing most Pac-10 and MWC fans can agree on: At least the latest trio of commits didn't choose USC.