The irony of fan desperation for BYU to join a conference

The Brigham Young Cougars have been involved in the conference expansion hysteria ever since it started in 2010. BYU bucked the trend by leaving the Mountain West Conference and becoming independent. Ever since that time, BYU fans have been divided over how long the Cougars should continue the independent course.

Recent events have started a while new chorus of “the time is now” for BYU to join a conference from the fan base. First, it was the new BCS rules for the champions of the “mid-major” conferences. Just this week, it was the news that the Big Ten conference was expanding again to welcome in Maryland and Rutgers. This time, the chorus has a feeling of panic and desperation.

Ironically, when the desperation seems the highest, BYU has never had more reason to remain independent.

With the Big Ten swiping a team from the ACC and the Big East, it seems inevitable that several dominoes will start to fall. The college football landscape will drastically change again.

ESPN has reported that BYU has already had talks with the Mountain West Conference about rejoining. Other sources think the odds of BYU finally accepting the Big East’s offer have increased exponentially.

All the while many BYU fans are panicking, desperately trying to convince themselves (fill in the blank) conference is a legitimate alternative, or going to the ultimate extreme and proposing BYU create a new conference, one salient fact is being completely ignored.

The current number one team in the nation is an independent.

Notre Dame has defied the doubters this year. The Fighting Irish have faced their own criticisms over their commitment to independence. In this era when a team’s perceived greatness is largely based on the conference it is affiliated with, Notre Dame has risen to the top. With one more win, they are guaranteed to play for the national championship.

If Notre Dame can do it, why not BYU?

Notre Dame was being mocked before this season began for almost two decades of irrelevancy. Over the last 10 years, anytime the Fighting Irish have had a chance to make a statement, they have fallen flat on their faces. Yet, as soon as they managed to go undefeated, what happened in the past was forgotten and the Irish have risen to the top.

Notre Dame’s schedule isn’t that much different than BYU’s schedule this year. Each school has played three schools that are ranked in the current BCS, AP, and USA Today Top 25s. The winning percentage of Notre Dame’s other opponents is better than BYU’s, but Notre Dame’s margin of victory has been much less than BYU’s against the inferior competition.

BYU cracked the AP Top 25 in week two, and the Cougars were picking up several votes in the USA Today each week early in the season. If BYU had stayed undefeated, then there is no doubt the voters would have continued to move them up in the polls as other teams lost.

BYU would have made its claim for a spot in the National Championship game in October after notching back-to-back wins against top 10 teams. These are the signature moments that voters love. BYU’s validity would have been reinforced this past weekend when the same Georgia Tech team that BYU resoundingly beat won the ACC Coastal Division, and the same Utah State team that BYU beat with its back up, true freshman quarterback took down nationally ranked Louisiana Tech.  

Throw into the mix that BYU would be the only eligible undefeated team, and the recipe is ripe for BYU to be in the exact same place as Notre Dame at this moment.

BYU isn't desperate to join the conference realignment fracas. BYU is desperate to win. 

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. ND is not longer purely independent. It has hitched it's wagon to the ACC. This article fails to paint the fact that if BYU is chasing ND, ND just made a U-Turn away from Independence that it didn't have for Football forever.

    The author shouldn't have used ND as a pro-Indy argument because BYU will never be Notre Dame. Period. And Notre Dame is tying itself to conferences out of necessity.

    It appears the author is a fan of "tag alongs" where BYU will someday reach a point, only to find out the goal is now 5 miles further down the road and the point BYU is at is vacant and void.

    Also there's that little fact that NO one is moving towards going Indy but that the entire opposite is true. Everyone is clawing and jockeying for power conference affiliation...except of course BYU. Taking "unique" to a whole new level.

    1. This is an ignorant reply. You make it sound like BYU wouldn't be among those eager to join a power conference. Of course they would. They'd also gladly sign a scheduling agreement with the Pac 12 or Big 12 like Notre Dame. However, until that call comes BYU has to play the hand it's been dealt. And independence is far better than joining the also-rans in the MWC.


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