Big XII Developments Being Watched in Provo

Brett RichinsSenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Running back Bryan Kariya #33 of the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With Colorado and Nebraska reaching agreements to leave the Big XII Conference after this athletic year, could the BYU Cougars be in line for an invite to join the conference sooner rather than later?

Colorado forfeited nearly seven million in revenue in a deal that allows them to exit the Big XII for the PAC-12 next season. The financially strapped Buffaloes originally said that it would stay in the Big XII through the 2011 season to avoid a penalty.

The Nebraska deal calls for the Cornhuskers to give up just over nine million in its departure to the Big Ten.

The announcement yesterday could trigger movement in the world of conference realignment quicker than expected.

Many have speculated that Brigham Young University could be one of the schools invited to join the league if it decides to get back to 12 schools.

Big XII commissioner Dan Beebe has said that the conference will hold at 10 for now, but outside influences may dictate another course.

With just 10 schools, the conference is not eligible to have an end-of-season championship game, per NCAA bylaws. A conference must have 12 schools to conduct a football championship game and the PAC-12 and Big Ten recently expanded, in part, to qualify to hold such a game under the rules.

In June the Big XII agreed to play its championship game in Dallas Cowboys Stadium through 2013.

The NCAA is not going to budge on the rule and you can bet that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is going to get his money one way or another. So the conference could find itself between a rock and a hard spot in short order.

Also keep in mind that Dan Beebe isn’t driving the bus in the Big XII, the University of Texas is. So the real question is what does Texas want?

First and foremost, the Longhorns won’t do anything that cuts into their expected revenue from the desperation deal that Beebe put together this summer to keep the conference together and save his job. Any schools added to the mix would need to bring in enough revenue to the equation to make sense.

One would think that the deal BYU was able to strike with ESPN and Notre Dame in the process of moving to football independence got the attention of Texas and the other schools in the Big XII.

Texas is also planning to put together its own television network, a concession that Beebe and the Big XII made to keep Texas from jumping to the PAC-10 this summer. As has been reported, Texas could benefit from BYU’s experience of creating such a network and indications are that BYU has offered to share its expertise with UT.

A question to ponder though is what would BYU’s response be if in fact the Big XII tendered the school an offer to join the league.

As an independent in football and a new member of the West Coast Conference in other sports, BYU has complete autonomy to conduct business as it desires. There are no Sunday play issues to deal with and they have the rights to broadcast the games of all of their programs around the country and world through BYUtv.

Also, what would it look like if BYU were to bolt the WCC for the Big XII before it even became a member of the WCC? Such a move could result in a big public relations hit for the school.

Then there is the issue of the deal with ESPN. Would the “worldwide leader in sports” allow BYU to just tootle off to the Big XII and the Fox Sports Network? Not likely.

With all of the uncertainty in the landscape of college conference realignment, would BYU decide to just stand pat even if the Big XII came calling? BYU’s own move to independence has other programs like USC and Texas musing about their potential fortunes as an independent. Could independence be the wave of the future?

The instability of the Big XII would be another issue to consider for BYU officials. If the SEC, Big Ten or PAC-12 were to add more schools, the Big XII would most certainly be affected.

Colorado’s move yesterday is a new twist in the saga. No doubt BYU is an interested observer.