BYU Football Declaration of Independence: It's Official, Other Sports to WCC

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BYU Football Declaration of Independence: It's Official, Other Sports to WCC

It's official. The Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, and many, many others are reporting that BYU is going independent in football, leaving the MWC, and taking all other sports to the WCC.

I think this reminds me of a significant event in history:

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

- Declaration of Independence, 1776, Thomas Jefferson.

BYU is breaking away from the MWC because:

  • They have their own network, BYU-TV, which is in over 60 million homes. It also, interestingly enough, has exposure in South America, and is the most watched foreign cable network in China.
  • They will likely earn at least 3-4 times as much TV revenue by going independent.
  • If they go to the BCS, they don't have to share the check with anyone.
  • They don't have any real loyalty to anyone in the conference anymore since Utah left.
The most hilarious thing in all of this may be the MWC's official press release on BYU's departure, which fails to even mention BYU and only talks of the "excitement" the conference now has over the additions of Fresno State, Nevada, and Boise State. One has to ask, does that make up for losing Utah and BYU?

For football, I think this move is a slam dunk. It's flashy and risky, but BYU is uniquely positioned to take advantage of football independence.

BYU coaches, fans, and students were generally euphoric about the announcement. BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said that independence was the "best option" for the exposure of his football team.

For basketball, this move is a small step down. The MWC just had four teams reach the NCAA tournament. San Diego State, New Mexico, and UNLV are all very good basketball programs. UNLV even won a national championship in basketball.

Gonzaga and St. Mary's are very solid programs though, and gives the basketball team a soft landing.

But BYU's other sports may not get as soft a landing.

I am a current BYU student, and two of my former roommates and friends are members of BYU's diving team. The WCC doesn't compete in diving.

At this point, it is unclear where some of these other sports will land.

Some of BYU's sports, most notably men's volleyball, already compete in a conference other than the MWC. Things should work out there.

The move will take place starting in the 2011 season.

BYU's current 2011 football schedule now includes only three games:

Utah State

@ Texas

@ Oregon State

Utah (not official, but highly likely)

Announcements about games with other teams will likely come flying in the next few weeks. ESPN will be a key in these negotiations (they helped negotiate that Oklahoma-BYU game in 2009).

The only thing that could derail this is if Craig Thompson invites Gonzaga and St. Mary's to the MWC tomorrow.** Thompson scuttled BYU's last planned independence by inviting Fresno State and Nevada.

BYU doesn't believe they are Notre Dame, nor should they. BYU is 32-7 over the last three years; Notre Dame is 16-23. Admittedly, BYU does not have anything close to the national fanbase Notre Dame has. But they are a name, especially in the west. And with ESPN behind them, their name is only bound to grow.

*Deseret News

**sarcasm implied

Update: As of 7:19 PM Mountain Time, "BYU" is a trending topic on Twitter.

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