There has been a lot of talk lately about major conference expansion.
The Big Ten is going to grab this one, the Pac-10 that one, so on and so forth.
The issue of the addition of a Utah and BYU pairing to the Pac-10 often comes up.
However, it is always refuted.
The Pac-10, it is claimed, would NEVER take BYU, due to their “bad fit” with the “overall philosophies” of the Pac-10. Thus, despite the fact that the Pac-10 currently consists of paired schools, it is put forth that Pac-10 expansion would involve Utah—and Colorado.
Let’s ignore the natural pairing…and the fact the despite recent success, BYU has a much better track record in football than the Utes, including fan support.
The argument against BYU is threefold:
First, as a religion-based institution, it would not be a good “fit” with the Pac-10 and its notoriously liberal schools such as Stanford, Cal, and the entire state of Oregon.
Second, it is not a research institution.
Third, the Mormon religion has been politically active, especially against gay marriage, giving the pooh-bahs of the Pac-10 a queasy feeling in their tummy—political activism, can’t have that!
Additional points are cited that the LDS is patriarchal, conservative, traditional, and as such just wouldn’t—um, ya know—fit with those west-coasters.
Interesting—athletic performance is never mentioned.
The Cougars have a national championship and continued excellence in football, their men's and women's basketball programs are routinely in the NCAA basketball tournament, and they perform well in the other so-called minor sports.
Additionally, and importantly, their fan base supports them.
They have a larger stadium for football than several Pac-10 schools—and they sell it out. They travel very well, given that their affiliation with the LDS draws Mormon fans from coast-to-coast who may not have attended the institution but belong to the religion. As such, they also draw well on the boob-tube.
However, we still have those pesky “cultural” issues—which cracks me up.
If Notre Dame came calling and said, “Hey, can we join the Pac-10?" the league would say yes quicker than you could utter “student body right." As it stands, the Big Ten is willing to sacrifice its first-born child in an effort to grab the domers.
How is Notre Dame different than BYU?
A patriarchal religion, dominated by a male priesthood? Check.
A politically active religion that's been very vocal in their opposition to gay marriage and very conservative on other social issues? Check.
A liberal arts curriculum and isn't a major research institution? Check.
A school that unabashedly cloaks itself in its religious iconography, principles and mores, using their prowess in sports as a bully pulpit?
Touchdown Jesus says check.
I mean, the place is run by priests, for Heaven’s sake!
The same can be said for the other big-time Roman Catholic school, Boston College, and the home of the Baptists, Baylor.
Both are small, liberal arts-based institutions and are not major research universities. Both proudly wear their religion on their sleeve and expose the values these faiths imply. Both represent religions that have certainly been politically active. (The religious right being fueled primarily by the fundamentalist Baptists that run Baylor).
Both are certainly opposed to many icons of liberal ideology, including gay marriage.
Yet both seem to co-exist with their more liberal brethren without qualms.
The University of Texas, one of the more liberal in the land, seems to co-exist with Baylor without undue stress, while the former Big East and now current ACC schools have not all lined up to take the Roman Catholic rights of confirmation because BC was and is part of their group.
The argument against BYU not being included because of “cultural" reasons simply does not hold water, holy or otherwise. After all, should not supposedly liberal institutions of learning such as Stanford and Cal actually want more diversity of thought?
Are you telling me that liberal campuses in the Big Ten, such as Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are somehow more inclusive than the schools in the Pac-10?
Shouldn't the Pac-10 schools welcome opposing viewpoints occasionally? Is that not what intellectual discourse and rhetorical discovery all about—a debate amongst parties on opposing ideas?
I mean, what are they afraid of? Why should the Mormons, via their school, be penalized for being politically active? A group of people get together and espouse a view point, utilizing the electoral system to do so. Last time I checked, that’s called representative democracy. Funny thing is that ALL viewpoints get to do this, not just those approved by the politically correct Gestapo.
Let’s call the cultural arguments against BYU, since they fail the logic test, exactly what they are.
It is anti-Mormon bashing, plain and simple. You can wrap it up and put a bow on it all you want, but the simple fact of the matter is that the BCS conferences have proved they can tolerate conservative, religious based institutions just fine. But it’s somehow OK to bash the LDS.
I’m not LDS myself, nor Baptist. As a matter of fact, my own views on the existence of a God are pretty far out of the mainstream, and my political viewpoints can be termed as libertarian.
That doesn't mean that I can not tolerate or listen to the opinions and beliefs of the multitude of friends I have who are LDS, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and a variety of other belief systems.
I certainly don’t exclude people from my company just because their viewpoints don’t align with mine. (Within reason—I must admit that hanging around with Neo-Nazi’s and members of the KKK would not be on my bucket list for tolerant discourse).
Look at BYU’s conference mate, TCU.
Discussion on if they should move to a BCS conference centers around on-field performance, attendance, and their TV market and relative drawing power on the idiot box. Not once have I heard anyone cite the conservative philosophies of the Church of Christ which runs the place, or the fact that the divinity school is a major part of their campus. They are Texas CHRISTIAN University, after all, but that seems to be OK.
So let’s stop the LDS bashing.
If BYU does not fit into the Pac-10 because of poor performance on the field, poor attendance, or the Salt Lake City market is too small—fair enough. These are all debatable points.
To cite bogus “cultural” issues when other schools that espouse these same viewpoints get a free pass?
Sorry, I call PC bullsquat on that.