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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ins and Outs of BYU and Pac-10 Expansion

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By now you have probably heard that the Pac-10 has joined the Big 10 in looking to expand, and BYU is on a short list of prime candidates. Depending on who you talk to, the other prime candidates are Utah, Colorado, TCU, Boise State, and Texas. BYU fans have dreamed of the possiblity of joining the Pac-10 ever since Arizona and Arizona State left the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 1978 to make the Pac-8 the Pac-10.  While a strong case can be made by BYU to join the Pac-10, I am not so sure that jumping ship to join the Pac-10 is the best thing for BYU.

IN
If BYU joins the Pac-10, does that really help recruiting? I don't see Bronco Mendenhall changing his recruiting strategy much because BYU's conference affiliation will not change the honor code restrictions or where members of the Church are located. True, BYU does lose a lot of top LDS (Latter-day Saints)recruits to Pac-10 teams, but I have my doubts that they would have made the difference between the actual results and going to a BCS game the last two years. 

Pac-10 affiliation would generate more revenue and more television exposure. Those things are nice, but does that mean BYU will get to the BCS? (Do you see where I am going with this?) The TV exposure, along with the major conference affiliation, would probably bump BYU up a few spots in the polls, but the biggest factor in poll rankings is your overall win-loss record.

The Pac-10 champ is guaranteed an automatic bid to the BCS. How often will BYU be the Pac-10 Champion? I don't doubt that BYU can acclimate itself to the Pac-10 and win some championships, but I think we will see results more like the 90s as opposed to the early 80s or what we have had the last four years. In a Pac-12 BYU would not need to play every team every year, which should play to BYU's favor. I don't like conference championship games since an 8-4 team can beat a 12-0 team and be considered the best in the conference, however, I think over the long run BYU would win the same number of times as the underdog as it would lose as the favorite. No Pac-10 team has received an at-large BCS bid since USC in 2002. In 2004, when Texas and California were vying for the final at-large bid, Texas leaped over Cal for that bid. Cal's only loss was by 6 points to undefeated number 1 USC. In that game Cal was on the USC 9 with less than two minutes to play.

OUT
BYU can stay in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) and build on what was started 11 years ago. The MWC has come to the point where even without automatic qualifying status, its champion (with one loss, maybe even two losses) is almost guaranteed an at large BCS berth by finishing in the top 12. That is, of course, if Boise State loses during the year. I am much more in favor of the MWC helping to bring equality to college football than I am of the BCS appeasing critics by incorporating the best of the rest.

The MWC is on the verge of gaining automatic qualifying status in the BCS. Over the last two years, the MWC has out played the Big East and the ACC, and is gaining ground on the Big 10 and the Pac-10. With two more years like the last two, which is not a stretch of the imagination, the MWC should be a shoe in for an automatic BCS berth for its champion. Even with Utah and TCU coming on strong, I think BYU would win the MWC more often than it would win the Pac-10.

Even if the MWC does not gain automatic qualifying status in two years, I think we are going to see some major overhauls to conference alignments and the BCS in the very foreseeable future. If the Big 10 takes Pitt or another high level Big East team, I don't see how the Big East can retain its automatic qualifying status. How many times can the BCS turn its head while other conferences pick pocket the Big East and the Big East plugs its holes with mid-major teams? Furthermore, the BCS is being investigated by the United States Justice Department. When all the dust settles, it may just be better for BYU to stay where it is at.

All of this conjecture ignores the possibility that BYU could get a better offer. The Big 12 could come calling if it loses Colorado to the Pac-10, or Texas to either the Big 10 or Pac-10, or Missouri to the Big 10. Although the Big 12 could replace the Pac-10 in all my arguments above, I get excited about the idea of BYU going to the Big 12, but I get bad vibes about BYU going to the Pac-10.

In any case, I think we can all agree that if Utah goes to the Pac-10 and TCU ends up in the Big 12, BYU should accept any offer it can get. The MWC could survive the loss of one of its big three by quickly making an offer to Boise State, but if two out of the three go, the odd one out will be in a bad situation.

2 comments:

  1. Here's what will happen:

    The PAC-10, Big-12, and BYU and Utah will combine to form a 24 team conference with 4 six-team divisions. The new super conference will hold a four-team, mini playoff (with the winner of each division) to determine a conference champion. The new super conference will sign a TV contract that will dwarf the current SEC contract with ESPN.

    In the years to come, the SEC, ACC, Big-10, and Big East will want a piece of the action and will form their own super conference with a mini-playoff to determine the conference champion. Because of the drastic conference realignments, the two super-conference champions end up playing each other for the BCS national championship, which essentially means that the college football world has formed an 8 team playoff system.


    Ok, maybe not.

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  2. Scott, I pretty much agree with you. I think Utah, BYU, and TCU should all stick with the MWC and keep fighting for parity in the collage football. I would hate to see the MWC fall apart. However, if both TCU and Utah jump ship, then BYU needs to get out as well, otherwise our whole program could go down with the rest of the MWC.

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