The Brigham Young Cougars have accomplished a lot with Bronco Mendenhall as head coach. Forty-three wins the last four years, two conference championships, five consecutive bowl appearances, three bowl wins, and four seasons with a national ranking. Notwithstanding all this success, BYU has been unable to shed the label as the most hated team in America.
In June, the Pac-10 made it very clear that they had no interest in adding BYU. Books could be written showing that BYU is as good of a fit as any team for Pac-10 athletics. However, not even that could keep Pac-10 schools from ruling out BYU before the process even started.
The Big XII lost two teams last June, and they scoffed at the idea of finding two teams to replace what was lost. Even when rumors started to swirl that the Big XII might move back to 12 teams, TCU and Houston were viewed as more likely candidates than BYU. The Big XII knows that BYU would be a good addition to the conference. They have known it since 1994. Politics prevented BYU’s inclusion back then, but now that the door is open again to bring BYU on board, the Big XII is hesitant. Maybe there are some underlying factors that don’t make expansion prudent, at this time, but they could at least have mentioned that they would look at or be interested in BYU when they are ready to expand.
With the Pac-10 clearly out of the picture and the Big XII not immediately viable, BYU looked to better its situation by going independent. Not an easy task for anyone. Even Notre Dame is being pressured to join a conference, so you have to admire BYU’s willingness to take such a risk for the school to be more nationally relevant in football. Unless, of course, you are the Mountain West Conference (MWC). For years, the other members of the MWC have taken their relationship with BYU for granted. Then, when BYU decides that they have had enough, the MWC shows no sign of dignity. Rather than try to reach across the table and compromise with BYU, they go under the table in an attempt to unravel BYU’s plans.
The plan was for BYU to be independent in football, and the other athletic teams would move to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). When the MWC caught wind of this, they hastily invited Fresno State, Nevada, and Utah State to join the conference. Fresno State and Nevada accepted, even though they could face a $5 million penalty for leaving the WAC. The move by Fresno State and Nevada seal BYU’s status as the most hated team in America. As members of the WAC, they stood to gain through BYU’s independent status. However, when they were faced with a decision to do something good for themselves or do something bad for BYU, they chose the latter.
Whether we like it or not, BYU still is the most hated team in America, and it’s not even close.
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