BYU Football: School Has No Plan B To Mountain West Counter Punch

Tim PetersonCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2010

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 17:  Max Hall #15 and Jo Jo Pili #26 of BYU Cougars celebrate a touchdown against San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

It’s clear that BYU never had a plan B in its quest for football independence. As daring and courageous as Tom Holmoe's plan to join the Western Athletic Conference might have been— it was essentially snuffed out and countered in dramatic fashion by the Mountain West Conference.

And because of that, BYU is facing one of its most embarrassing situations in school history. In short, the Cougars thought they were superior to the rest of the teams in the MWC and got out foxed.

By Wednesday afternoon, BYU seemed to be on its way towards independence from the MWC, and become the king-pin of conference they ruled more than a decade ago.

Instead, that vision went out the window, when

the shocking news was announced that Fresno State and Nevada would be leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West.

This fluid situation not only stymied BYU’s attempt to find a suitable conference for its secondary sports, but it also spells doom for the WAC. With the loss of Boise State earlier this summer and now the departure of Fresno State and Nevada—the conference is down to just six schools. BY NCAA rule eight teams is the minimum standard.

Weeks earlier, WAC members formed a buyout package and pledged loyalty to stay together. WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Fresno State and Nevada’s departure was “selfish” and said the schools would still have to pay a $5 million buyout and wouldn’t be able to leave the conference until 2012.

Even though Nevada didn’t sign the buyout agreement WAC lawyers believe the school is still liable and will seek the money, which due 60 days from Wednesday. 

Now the question is what will BYU do?

The Cougars could swallow their pride and rejoin the Mountain West. However remote this is, it could work if BYU is given some concessions—namely more in the way of conference payouts and the ability to incorporate BYU-TV for home games.

And according to BYU officials, their high-definition, state of the art broadcast facility, has the capability of reaching 68 million households.

The Cougars other option would be to accept the standing offer to join the West Coast Conference. The only problem is these small schools from California and the Pacific Northwest that form this tiny Catholic school conference have a severe lack of exposure and national visibility. BYU says it desires exactly the opposite.

The last option is to go totally independent.

There are only three independent schools in Division I—Norte Dame, Army and Navy. And even the Fighting Irish must rely on the Big East Conference for some help. This seems like the worst scenario of all.

Let's face it Cougar fans, BYU flexed its muscles--

But in the end, the Mountain West hit them with a round house they didn’t see coming.