Brigham Young University will not be joining the Big 12. The school is under much less pressure to do so than they were a year ago, and among other reasons, it certainly has no need for the money. In fact, there is every indication that BYU has already found the home it likes and thus has every reason to stay there for at least the foreseeable future.
Let's take a look at six reasons why BYU will not be joining the Big 12.
Yes, the good old-fashioned word, "honor." With the troubles with honor that North Carolina, Miami, Oregon, Ohio State, and Miami, as well as others, are having, BYU is bound to keep its word to the WCC. They said please admit us, can we play with you, and the WCC said welcome.
BYU and the LDS church are big on keeping your word. A man is only the sum of the covenants he keeps for members of the LDS church. To give your word, or in other words, make a covenant, and then break it is 100 percent against all of the teachings of the LDS Church.
That is one of the things that sets BYU athletes apart. They are required to give their word on many things from dating and morals to drinking, smoking, staying within the law—no speeding tickets, nothing. A man of honor is what they recruit, build and demand. BYU can do no less. They will take the consequences of their decision.
They don't need money
You can't BUY BYU with money.
It’s not about the money. That’s the point. What does BYU gain by being in the Big 12? Money? They have that. Their "endowment" is not listed anywhere. Stanford, Harvard, UCLA, TCU, you can find the "endowment" for every college in America, except BYU.
Why? Because they have all the money it takes to do what they want to do. And to them, it isn't about money, or gold, or riches. What, then, is it about?
Exposure. The Big 12 could schedule BYU as an independent for the next two or three years and “designate” them a “conference game” for all practical considerations as to who wins the Big 12 if they wanted to, and they wouldn’t even have to split the money with BYU. They could fill the empty Texas A & M slot with BYU and move on happy as clams splitting conference revenue NINE ways instead of 10.
BYU is running a marathon, not a sprint to national and international prominence
Timing. Last year there might have been pressure to jump at the chance. That was before ESPN, before big-time clubs were willing to schedule BYU, before the WCC, before the WAC said they would take the crumbs BYU left behind.
Now, the time isn’t right. If the Big 12 had offered BYU membership when Colorado left, the timing might have been perfect as Utah jumped to the PAC-12. However, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M leaving, why join now? If the big conferences are coming, it might be wise to see just who shakes out into the “mighty 64” that is being proposed.
The "Big 64" may not even make it as state and federal budgets are under ever-increasing pressure. Travel costs and fan displeasure have still yet to be accounted for. And there is the looming federal legislation that implies that if the NCAA doesn't assert itself and get its act together, they may be an equalizing hand added to college football that will make it look very much like college basketball.
The time is not right to jump onto a sinking ship or be the one that people are looking to as the savior of that ship. It's not in BYU's mission statement.
BYU has been courted for many years to abandon the rivalry marriage between them and the University of Utah. Many times conferences told BYU they would take BYU, but it would have to leave Utah behind. BYU refused. It likes long-term marriages and it wasn't until Utah divorced BYU that BYU took to the waters on its own.
The day may come when the entire compatibility issue may just erupt into a shake out for many schools over many issues, not just playing on Sunday. The PAC-12 doesn’t want BYU because it is religious and won’t play on Sunday. There may be other schools that might in the end find that their standards are more important than Sunday play, big money conferences, a BCS game and a mythical championship. Perhaps their standards are what they are teaching, and need to exemplify by their actions. We still wonder if SMU learned that lesson. Some schools may even find that their religious standards are more important than even being in the mighty 64.
The academic standards of the athletes, graduation rates, financing, tax dollar-supported budgets, regionalism, and many other considerations may play a part in the divorce of schools within the PAC, whatever number follows those initials. The same goes for the other "Big 5" conferences.
BYU and Notre Dame have scheduled six home and home games into the future. Is it a portend of things to come? They have played before, and often. Now that BYU is an independent and can play around Notre Dame's schedule and vice-versa, could this be the new "Holy War" rivalry?
BYU will have to man up to that challenge. Funny thing is, they think they can do it. Crazy kids.
But, future alignment may make the Big 12 the Big 5 and candidates for inclusion into the Mountain West. More accurately, the Big 12 if smart would start today including the Mountain West into the Big 12 and be the first to create the super conference. BYU has been there and done that with the WAC when they were 16 teams. If they joined any of the available teams in the Mountain West in the Big 12, it would be the very scenario and teams they just got done leaving. Ugh.
BYU doesn't want to play with them anymore
The composition of the conferences is being challenged now like never before, but what about the future? Can you really call the SEC the best conference with doormat schools like Vanderbilt? The PAC-12 just got it’s hat handed to it in losses from the lowly WAC, Sacramento State and the SEC.
In a word, it was non-competitive on the first day of the season, top to bottom. Would adding four more teams make the PAC-16 more respectable if the bottom four or eight teams are losing to FCS and small conference teams? They may make super large conferences, but those won’t last any more than the WAC’s attempt at 16 teams did several years ago.
Wisdom is in waiting for the fall out.
Looming Federal Regulation
Let’s be serious. In this world of budget pressures, are you are going to convince 535 members of the U.S. Congress, and the legislative assemblies of 50 states that it is best for collegiate sports, academia, and school budgets nationwide, that of the over 120 top tier schools in FBS football that the budget of the United States government is subsidizing, only 64 should be entitled to split the billion-plus revenue dollars from TV and a shot at a national championship? Really?
My guess is that very quickly Congress and the state assemblies will be looking at that revenue and eyeing it for a more equal distribution. They want their piece of the pie. In a budget cut, bent states and congress could cut back on subsidies and support to all colleges and athletics in an effort to gobble more of that pie, or equalize them in some way based on per capita school attendance. California in its budget squeeze has already raised tuition at state schools 22 percent over the last two years. That trend in California and other hard-hit states will continue.
That quickly will mean those who can afford to play on the big stage would; those who wouldn’t would fall to the FCS. There might not be 64 teams able to play on that big stage. BYU, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC (the California one) and a few other schools might be in a position to survive, but not 64. Which means an end to the super conferences within four years.
With trouble in both federal and state budgets, the future, in the long run, may dictate more regionalism and smaller conferences, not super conferences and higher costs.
All of that adds up to why BYU will reject the BIG 12, or any other conference. It has seen the light of independence and left behind all conference entanglements. BYU doesn't need the conferences as much as the conferences need BYU.