It appears the world of college athletics is about to experience a new world order. And BYU officials cannot afford to get caught with their proverbial pants down.
We are about to witness one of the most cataclysmic events in NCAA history. The Big Ten may expand to become the Big 16, the SEC would most assuredly follow suit and the Big 12, ACC and Big East may be raided for some of their best programs. The reverberations would most certainly be felt all the way from Providence, to Provo, to Palo Alto.
The result would be the creation of a new elite division of college athletics that may well permanently leave behind the havenots and relegate them a 1-AA-type status. The survival, or at least the status, of the Big East, MWC and WAC conferences as we know them are in jeopardy. The creation of super conferences could change the college athletics landscape forever. If you thought the BCS was exclusionary, you haven’t seen anything yet. If BYU is caught unawares and left out, it’s athletic programs could go the way of the Ricks College Vikings.
The Cougars must find a way to be one of the haves in this pending realignment. University President Cecil Samuelson and Athletic Director Tom Holmoe must be proactive in positioning the BYU program so as to be partakers at the table. They can’t afford to wait around and see how things shake out. The stake are too high. The time has come to sell, sell, sell their program. They must minimize BYU’s perceived drawbacks (i.e. no Sunday play) and play up the program’s strengths.
The Cougars have plenty of positives for Samuelson and Holmoe to market to conferences such as the Big 12 or PAC-10. They include a legion of West Coast eyeballs, successful athletic programs, large, outstanding facilities and a whole lotta butts in seats coming to an arena near you.
If it’s true that a couple of PAC-10 presidents harbor anti-BYU sentiments, then President Samuelson needs to hop the next flight to the Bay Area and have a meeting of the minds with a couple of them. If he needs to involve Utah Governor Gary Herbert in an Ann Richards-like veto of Utah to the PAC-10 without the Cougars, then so be it. BYU must be willing to use every tool in it’s belt if need be.
Last week Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson admitted that the league is going to take a proactive stance. BYU must as well. If they haven’t already, the BYU brass must open communications with other conferences, their officials and teams. BYU cannot worry about what the MWC and their member schools think or say. It could well be every program for itself, and BYU must take things into it’s own hands.