BYU Goes Independent: Who Could Follow?
Often in sports there are teams that rise above the rest of their counterparts, and college football is no exception. Whether it is revenue, bitterness or politics these teams stand to benefit from gaining their independence.
Of course these teams currently have it quite good right now, however if they were all to leave in conjunction to become independents their revenue streams could be even higher with the right scheduling.
No revenue sharing, more freedom in scheduling, and the ability to work in conjunction to establish their own TV contracts with ESPN and the rest of the NCAA would be just the beginning for these colleges.
The Texas Longhorns are the most valuable college football team. Valued at approximately $119 by CBS Sports, the Longhorns are the most valuable NCAA team in any sport.
So why would they want out?
According to an interview with Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds by USAToday, the Longhorns are worried about some of the changes occurring in the college conference landscape. With the departure of BYU, the Longhorns seem to have a reason to question the conference formatting.
"We've had those conversations. We've thought about it. It's a possibility, but it's not something we're thinking about seriously," says Dodds when asked about becoming independent.
The Longhorns are worried about losing national appeal with the expansion of the conferences. If the Longhorns were to become independent they would gain more control over their future.
Much like Notre Dame, the Longhorns have a strong program with national appeal that may be able to go into a Notre Dame-like deal with the NCAA and ESPN.
Lions Going Lone-Wolf ?
Another team rich in revenue and in history is the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions. Ranked seventh overall in wins in the history of college football, the Lions have a very successful program.
Lead by coach Joe Paterno, the Lions have the tools to be successful on the field for many years to come. One of the most valuable franchises in the sport, if the Longhorns are worrying about national appeal with conference changes, you have to think that the Lions also have some reserves.
Like the Longhorns, the Lions are too big to fail. While many of Penn State’s sports teams are part of the Big Ten, they have teams in other conferences as well as one team that operates as an independent. If the Longhorns were to go, the Lions would be sure to follow.
A one-two independent punch of the Longhorns and Lions could create a unique TV contract negotiation deal.
After all, who wouldn't like to see two of the wealthiest teams in the game duke it out more often?
Next Stop Nebraska?
“We Got Nothing” may be what the Nebraska Cornhuskers say when asked what they receive from their current Big Twelve status.
The Cornhuskers also fall into the too big to fail category as one of the top earners in college football. Combine that with a vibrant fan base, a great slogan and the Cornhuskers B independent sooner rather than later.
They could also gain from independent negotiations with ESPN over television rights. The Cornhuskers have the advantage of success, being the fourth most winningest team in the history of the sport.
The Cornhuskers recent annual profit of $49 million according to Forbes couldn’t hurt negotiations either.
Why stay with the Big twelve when you could join others such as the Fighting Irish negotiating TV deals with little to no revenue sharing.
Warriors Waive White Flag
After the losses of Fresno State, Boise State and Nevada to the MWC, the Western Athletic Conference isn’t as appealing as it used to be. The Hawai’i Warriors have a reason to be worried; the WAC is nearly decimated after the loss of three of its members.
For the Warriors, going independent may be the best course of action.
“We need to be prepared for anything,” Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
According to SportingNews, the Warriors could make enough money playing Bowl Championship Series opponents in away games to make it work with ESPN. Being the third non-BCS team to play in a BCS game, the Warriors already have connections with BCS opponents and their fans.
According to SportingNews, ESPN is on board for anywhere from $750,000 to one million plus for games against BCS superpowers. This would be more than enough incentive for the Warriors to leave the already black and blue WAC.
A Tide Of Independence
Home to one of the largest season tickets waiting lists —at over 15,000 people, the Alabama Crimson Tide could benefit from independence. A team of national prominence and power, the Crimson Tide could gain significantly by scheduling their own games against bigger national opponents, opposed to regional rivals.
If the Crimson Tide did go independent they would be able to negotiate TV rights with ESPN, while also playing more games against other national competitors. If the other teams mentioned went independent as well, they would ironically have power similar to a super-national conference, something the Crimson Tide would love to be involved with.
Boasting the fourth highest paid coach in college football and the sixth winningest record, the Crimson Tide mean business. If BYU and Notre Dame think independence is good business, Alabama would have to consider it as well.
But Will They Follow?
These five teams could potentially follow BYU's example and become independent. Many of the teams have a significant stake of the national landscape necessary for independent TV contracts. While lesser prominent Hawaii has the economic blueprint and the need due to the WAC decimation.
Texas and Hawaii have openly talked about independence, while the other three may be considering it. Some other colleges who could stand to gain from independence are the Florida Gators, Ohio State Buckeyes, and the University of South Carolina to name a few.
Ultimately these teams need to weigh the Pros and Cons and test the waters when it comes to television rights. But with another big one going independent and two others considering it, the college football landscape could change even more in the near future.