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 move will take place starting in the 2011 season.
BYU's current 2011 football schedule now includes only three games:
@ 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.
Update: As of 7:19 PM Mountain Time, "BYU" is a trending topic on Twitter.