BYU Going Independent?

Mike SmithContributor IAugust 18, 2010

OK, I have to take a couple of minutes and comment on BYU going independent. For those of you who don't do a BYU google search to start your day off as I do to see whats going on, there is a massive rumor that BYU is going to leave the Mountain West and join the WAC in all sports except football.

What makes this rumor so interesting is that ESPN broke the news. Greg Wrubell thinks that this may be a sign that BYU is working with them and gave them first dibs on it. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that it is a done deal, the athletic directors are only waiting for approval from the church. The interesting thing is that the rumor started as a twitter from Colorado State which officials said came from a hacked account.The interesting thing is that the rumor started as a twitter from Colorado State which officials said came from a hacked account. This all seems a little fishy to me...I think that I'll wait for an official press conference.

I was looking over the out of conference schedule and it is interesting that BYU had 3 WAC teams (Boise State, Utah State, and Hawaii) one year. BYU is building a state of the art broadcasting center. It seems to me like BYU has been planning this out for a while now. I think that BYU officials were hoping for an invite from the Big 12. Since that didn't happen, it feels like they had planned on going independent and rejoining the WAC a couple years ago (long enough to plan and build a broadcasting building).

The question that remains is should BYU do it? Lets break it down:

Scheduling. It will be harder to schedule 12 teams a year instead of just 4. Joining the WAC, they will play 3-4 WAC school every year, so they only need to schedule 9-8 teams. BYU obviously isn't Notre Dame, but they aren't Wyoming either. BYU will fill a stadium and has a national presence by affiliation with the LDS church. Navy and Army can do it. I think that BYU will be able to pull it off.

The Rivalry.It will make scheduling the rivalry game with Utah a lot easier. The MWC wasn't going to budge for BYU and Utah to maintain the rivalry game. Now, (assuming independence) it doesn't matter. I admit, I was starting to look forward to an enhanced rivalry with TCU and a new one with Boise State, but keeping the Holy War going is a ton better.

Being in the WAC. Joining the WAC will be a step down for every other sport, especially men's basketball. I have really developed a liking for the UNLV and SDSU games. They are good teams that the WAC cannot match. It will be fun for the USU rivalry to intensify. Along with the rumor of BYU leaving, some have mussed over the idea of BSU returning to the WAC. So, there still could be a chance of BYU-BSU games being played (BYU and BSU currently had agreed to play each other in the 2012-2015 seasons).

Money. Lets face it, everything is really about money. The MWC had good intentions, it just couldn't materialize.This will break down into two categories: TV and bowls. The Mtn TC network could not generate enough money and the bowl tie in are not that great.

Television. Reports state that the Mountain television network only generated about $2 million per school from TV revenue. That is pennies compared to other schools. Additionally, BYU has the potential to broadcast to an international audience. The Mtn, on the other hand, barely became available on one satellite provider. I think that BYU finally got fed up with being tied into the Mtn when it could broadcast its games to a national and an international audience. Plus some of the announcers are horrible (we all know who I am talking about). It would nice to not want to mute the game while I am watching it.  This looks like the primary deal breaker for BYU.

Bowl Games. One question is that of bowl games. To be blunt, the MWC bowl affiliations are not that great. The best case scenario besides busting the BCS is landing in the Las Vegas Bowl with a million dollars to share with the rest of the conference. I think that enough bowls would be willing to affiliate with BYU that are at least on par with the Las Vegas bowl. Ideal situation is that BYU gets Notre Dame status, but I doubt that will happen.

Just to add my opinion, I would like to see BYU continue to play Air Force if they do go independent. I always enjoy those games even if the players do not enjoy their chop blocks. When I weigh everything out in my head, it seems about sixes of whether to stay in the MWC or go independent.  But I also live where I have access to the Mountain. There is a huge risk and potential reward for BYU by going independent, but I think that they would fare just fine regardless. The only disappointing thing would be if the MWC was going to get AQ status. BYU must think that its not close enough to stick around and find out.

If BYU does leave, I could see BSU returning to the WAC and basically ruining the MWC. For the MWC to stick together, the MWC could possibly allow BYU to broadcast its own games. Yeah, they might loose some money...but it would be better than loosing BYU and dissolving the MWC. Other than that, I don't know how the MWC could make a compelling case that would make BYU want to stay.

So, should they go or should they stay?

UPDATE: The MWC invited Fresno and Nevada to join the conference. The WAC had all of the schools sign a contract that would cause each school to pay $5 million if they left the conference. Looks like the MWC is trying to destroy the WAC. I think that the WAC may be in better position with a contract with ESPN.

This seems to say that the MWC believes that BYU is gone. This was reported on CBS Sports. I wonder if TCU is pulling out too.

Is the off-season supposed to have this much drama?

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