The Texas A&M Aggies aren’t going to the SEC after all. At least not yet. The real concern for the Big XII is not whether Texas A&M is staying or leaving. The SEC vote to decline an invite to the Aggies does little to stabilize the volatile Big XII. For all we know, the SEC could be delaying the invite to A&M until team number 14, or 15 and 16, can be chosen and persuaded to join. One thing is certain, the Big XII needs to stabilize itself, and there is an easy way to do that.
The fastest and easiest way for the Big XII to find stability is to bring in the Brigham Young Cougars. Inviting BYU serves two purposes. First, if Texas A&M does jump ship soon, then you already have your replacement school. Second, if BYU leaves independent status, then the threat of Texas going independent is gone.
Right now, the idea of Texas going independent is far fetched. The only way the Longhorns would try lone star football is if independence was a proven option. BYU is the case study for independence. If the Cougars are able to show everyone that independence is viable and show how to do it, then Texas might make the move. With BYU in the Big XII, the blueprint for succeeding as an independent will be incomplete. Texas will be content with its Longhorn network, and be happy its Olympic sports won’t have to play in Conference USA.
The Big XII should be prepared to make concessions to get BYU, including allowing BYU to keep its television deal with ESPN. Whatever the concessions are, they will be worth it. (Don't worry, BYU's desired concessions won't be overbearing, that isn't BYU's style.) Besides, individual television packages just might be the future of college athletics, and other schools in the Big XII would be wise to start exploring their own networks. Instead of $2 billion deals for entire conferences, each school will have its own $100-200 million deal.
The only question that remains is will BYU bite? The future as an independent is exciting. Although the surface has just been scratched, the possibilities seem endless. Nevertheless, BYU probably will bite at a Big XII invite, especially if concessions are made. BYU had one major goal and one major caveat when deciding to go independent. The Big XII would meet both.
The goal was to increase exposure to BYU. The caveat was to find a suitable home for Olympic sports. There is no debate about the caveat: the Big XII is a better home than the West Coast Conference (WCC). As for exposure, BYU would find increased exposure as a member of the Big XII. In the Big XII, if BYU is 10-0 in November they will be in the national championship conversation. The national championship picture is the lead college football story on every TV show and radio station in November. As an independent, if BYU is 10-0 in November they will be in the BCS buster conversation. BCS busting is exciting, but the national championship always gets more attention and coverage. The Olympic sports would bring more exposure as well. In the WCC, the basketball team would have to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament to generate the same exposure BYU would receive just for beating a number one ranked Kansas team.
Once again, the Big XII has dodged a bullet, but this is not a time for a sigh of relief. It is time to be proactive. If Big XII Commissioner Dan Beebe wants to keep his job, and the schools up north want to stay in a nationally relevant conference, then BYU needs to be invited now. Don’t risk dropping to 9 or 8 teams. Don’t risk Texas using the BYU blueprint to go independent. Get BYU on board. Make all the concessions necessary. This will lock up Texas for the long term. This will bring stability to the Big XII.
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