The Brigham Young Cougars are still on the outside looking in with regards to the Big XII. It looks like that will continue to be the case for awhile. While I stayed out of the fray when everything was rumor and speculation, I did follow the situation. As we move on from the latest round of conference musical chairs, I have a few final thoughts.
Does BYU want to be in the Big XII?
A deal between BYU and the Big XII was rumored to be done or very close to being done. Out of nowhere, the Big XII invited TCU to replace Texas A&M.
One year ago, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said BYU made the move to independence, in part, because none of the major conferences were expressing interest in adding BYU. Now, the Big XII was hot on BYU’s tail. Yet, the two parties could not work an agreement out.
It makes me wonder how much the BYU decision makers want the athletic teams in the Big XII. BYU has invested a lot of time, energy, and money into independence. On a few occasions, BYU personnel have mentioned big future plans for independence. Is that the hang up? Was BYU not willing to bend far enough on TV rebroadcast rights, or whatever was the hangup(s), because they feel that good about the independence master plan?
Maybe they have some very reliable studies that indicate if BYU stays independent, BYU could generate hundreds of millions of dollars through international apparel sales. Maybe they plan to capitalize on being the “only game in town” in places like Africa to set up a recruiting pipeline similar to that of Polynesia.
Are we all like babes on our mother’s laps, and ten years from now we will look back and see that BYU was wise to not abandon independence? Is that what it is? Is it all about a well devised master plan that would stun fans if they only knew about it?
The deal breaker was rebroadcast rights, really?
From what I have seen, a squirm over rebroadcast rights is what held up the deal, and eventually led the Big XII to invite TCU. This squirm wasn’t over complete blackout, like BYU had in the Mountain West Conference. It was a difference in desired delay time until BYU could rebroadcast the game. I find this a little difficult to accept, on two fronts.
First, this doesn’t sound like the BYU I know, at least not on the highest level. BYU is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have seen the Church bend over backwards and make several concessions when negotiating with other groups to accommodate them to ensure that everyone is happy and feels they have been dealt with fairly. This has been the case even when other groups are unfairly prosecuting them, and the Church could easily win disagreements with these groups in the court of law.
In accordance with Church doctrine, the Church has turned the other cheek. It has focused on the weightier matters of the law. It has followed the counsel of one of its modern day prophets to not make mountains out of molehills.
Refusing to sign a deal with the Big XII because BYU would have to wait 72 hours after an event to rebroadcast it, as opposed to immediately or 48 hours, sounds like BYU has made a mountain out of a molehill. Of all the details that have to be worked out, a disagreement over the amount of time until an event can be rebroadcast can’t possibly count as one of the weightier matters, can it?
Second, this is what BYU athletics has been waiting a generation for. BYU can now join the big time in college sports. No longer will BYU be required to justify its glossy record, or see voters snub them in the national rankings. Going to the Big XII would be one of the top three things that ever happened to BYU football.
That makes me wonder what knowledge we are missing? Is it knowledge of the rock solid master plan? Maybe it is something completely different, and the rebroadcast rights is just a smoke screen.
Don’t mess with Texas
The reason Texas A&M left the Big XII, after being connected at the hip with Texas for 100 years, is because the Aggies could not tolerate Texas anymore. Missouri, apparently, feels the same way.
Missouri isn’t done exploring its options. Even though the Big XII recently changed its revenue sharing program to equal distribution for all members, that wasn’t enough to convince Missouri the grass isn’t greener in another conference. No doubt, the SEC would be a death sentence for Missouri football, but it looks like being with Texas is worse than death, in the Tigers’ mind.
A year ago, statements were issued that made it sound like Texas runs the Big XII like a dictator. As BYU has gotten closer and closer to joining the conference, BYU administrators might have been questioning all the other schools about Texas to learn what it is really like. Maybe what they have learned is too repulsive that BYU can’t bring itself to signing up for almost certain torture.
Rather than create a public relations nightmare, maybe, BYU has let it appear to the public that a difference regarding the rebroadcast rights was the roadblock.
What will West Virginia do?
Deep down inside, all 10 school presidents knows the best interest of the conference, and, therefore, the best interest of their school, is to go back to 12 members. It shouldn’t be a question of if it will happen, but when. Louisville and West Virginia are the popular package now. While the Big East is facing dire straits, I don’t think the Mountaineers see a move to the Great Plains as a very viable option.
1. West Virginia would be a major outlier in the Big XII, especially if Missouri bolts. You would have to cross all of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois just to reach the nearest conference member Iowa State.
2. West Virginia would really like to stay in a conference anchored in the east. There is a reason the Big East still has BCS access despite not being very good at football. They are in the eastern United States. That is where the people are. That is where you want to be if you want attention. A, once again, reconfigured Big East may still be more desirable than being a stranger halfway across the country.
3. West Virginia’s major rival is Pittsburgh. The Panthers recently announced they will move to the ACC. Joining them in a conference that covers the entire eastern seaboard would definitely take precedence over the Big XII. The ACC was very discrete about inviting Pitt and Syracuse. They could have already had conversations with West Virginia.
If it is right, then it will happen
In the end, I go back to what I wrote a week ago: If it is so important that BYU be part of the Big XII, then somehow, someway, BYU will get in.
Until then, there is still plenty of real football to watch.
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail