Independence: All is not well in Provo

Utah, Georgia Tech, Conference, Money.  In a microcosm, the four preceding words define the current state of BYU independence.  Unfortunately, the most important word is not included that states why BYU moved to independence for: exposure.

 I’ve stated before on the blog that I don’t think I’m being pessimistic in my view that when the dust settles in 5 years, you’ll have 4 ‘SuperConferences’(SC). My primary concern for BYU’s continued independence is this: if BYU’s not a member of a SC, will they be able to schedule top caliber teams? Sure the future schedule ‘looks the part’ of a strong schedule, but GaTech was the 1st in a tidal wave of potential cancellations to the Cougars as scheduling becomes less flexible. Utah is likely to follow the Yellow Jackets suit at this point.  BYU hasn’t had to worry about scheduling Utah for the last 67 years!  How will they continually fill up the docket with quality opponents?  BYU fans (I) will not accept playing Weber St. NMSU, SJSU, Hawaii, Utah St and Idaho as the norm. I don’t see how BYU will maintain a strong enough schedule long term.

 Thusly, BYU needs the SC.  Let me try to be a bit clearer.  SC’s are the realization of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. The current BCS conferences will do whatever it takes to keep the little schools from penetrating their money-hungry fortresses. If a SC is what’s needed to keep the money flowing to the have nots, they’ll do it.  Let’s give the examples of potential SC’s: PAC, SEC, Big 12/10, and ACC. Every other conference will be considered a ‘have not’. C-USA, MWC, Sunbelt and MAC are currently either gutted or too weak to be upper echelon. Sun Belt is replacing FIU with South Alabama and Georgia State. C-USA is replacing top schools leaving for Big East with Sun Belt AND FCS schools. MWC is replacing departing schools with the remaining defunct WAC schools less New Mexico State and Idaho. These conferences are not getting stronger. And they’re too busy trying to maintain what they have, rather than looking for a way to advance their conferences. While the lesser conferences are struggling just to maintain, the future SC’s with the money swindle, deal and essentially choose how they’ll shape the next generation of college football.  Money is power in collegiate football.  That’s all you need to know.

 I see the SC’s taking the best of the best, and the ones with the most history and money, and leaving the rest behind. It’s like the movie ‘The Day after Tomorrow’. Dennis Quaid pleads for corrective action of global consumption and behaviors to save the planet, but it becomes too late and monster storms take over, killing millions and putting Earth in another Ice Age. I see this coming in football speak. When the SC storm settles, BYU better be a part of these monster storms transforming the college football landscape. If not, you may as well begin a new division of college football with BYU as chief leader. Once SC’s are established, teams within them will have much less flexibility to schedule and won’t have any incentive to play a ‘good’ team outside its own strong SC. They’ll have the tie to the playoff, ironic that they’re proposing a 4 team playoff (4 SC). It will be much easier to keep the ‘pay games’ on their schedule than BYU.  If you’re wondering about Georgia Tech’s other non-conference commitments in 2014 that they’re not cancelling, that would be Wofford, Tulane and Georgia.

Believe me, I’m a huge fan of independence! I loved watching them play on national television rather than just in Utah. But I’m also a realist. Independence can’t be a long term solution if they want to compete at the highest levels. Greg Wrubell said that BYU had an offer from the Big East, which they did. He also said the BYU administration is smarter than he is. That may be true, but why didn’t they accept the Big East bid when they had a chance? For what you’re seeing now in the Big East. That conference has so much infighting, they’re even weaker than before the shakeup, and they’re no longer receiving the auto BCS bid after ’13. It was hardly an ideal situation for BYU.

And Tom Holmoe absolutely knew it! And he still knows the fate of BYU if he doesn’t secure a spot in the top 64! However, if they want be accepted to a SC in football, BYU better be ready to give away concessions (exposure?) save the no Sunday play. BYU has top value to other conferences now. They should be courting a conference now…diligently. Problem is there is no viable conf. if the Big 12 doesn’t ask. You absolutely can’t go PAC or SEC. Only other quality options are ACC and Big10. But those options do not seem logical or good at this point. Nevertheless, you have the Big East in all 4 time zones and Big 12 in 3 time zones. Anything is possible in the current landscape. It’s too bad that other conferences make a big deal out of no Sunday play, when the real issue is they’re all jealous of the advanced technology BYU has at its disposal which the majority of college schools only dream about.

 I’ve heard both sides of this debate and I frankly don’t see how BYU fans can be ok with the long-term prospect of Independence.  Yes, shifting here was the right move, but only because of the stupid television contract Craig Thompson drew up 10 years ago.  If the MWC agreed with ESPN back in the day, one could argue that BYU, Utah, Boise St., TCU, and SDSU could all sense the shift in power sliding from the Big East to the MWC.  It’s feasible they could have all stayed and taken over as a power conference.  Grass is always greener on the other side right?

 I’ve heard that SC’s won’t materialize.  I’ve heard that we don’t have any idea what kinds of talks are taking place.  I’ve heard that people seen and unseen will lobby on BYU’s behalf. It’s just my general opinion that BYU fans are uneasy about being in our current position of independence, that they’re not getting bent out of shape about it, and that it will all get worked out eventually.  I’m not holding my breath at this point.  The only card that I think we have is their ESPN contract.  ESPN has a vested interest in maintaining max value for BYU.

 So tell me, am I completely off base?  Do I not have my head screwed on straight?  Bring a plausible alternative that will benefit BYU in the long-term.  I’d love to hear other cards that BYU can play that will be beneficial to the school, the program and the fans.

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5 Responses to Independence: All is not well in Provo

  1. ryan says:

    I agree that BYU needs to get into a conference. It would help their case if they could be consistently in the top 25. As a Big Ten fan (Michigan), I had to comment that the Big Ten would probably never consider admitting BYU. They are very picky as to what schools they will consider. They would not take Missouri. The only school they would like to add is Notre Dame (based on location/traditional powerhouse).
    As a Mormon, would I mind seeing BYU in the Big Ten? No. But most of the Big Ten teams would mop the floor with BYU. If you want to be elite, you have to play elite. I’m not trying to slam BYU. I would like to see them be elite and be in a great conference.

    • Carl says:

      There’s just not many places for BYU to lay their heads if they want to be in a SC. I won’t even bother with the mop the floor comment.

    • Brian says:

      Not all Big Ten schools would “mop the floor with BYU.” I am an alum from both BYU and the University of Minnesota, and I can say that the Cougars could easily beat the Gophers.

  2. Matt says:

    I maintain my belief that independence is a great, long-term option for the Cougars as long as Notre Dame remains one as well. As long as the access to the power bowls is there for a team that has a successful season, BYU can make it work with ESPN and Notre Dame as an independent. I still think we, as BYU fans, are overplaying the “ESPN won’t let us fade/fail/slip into irrelevance” card, but I also understand that it may also be the one card we have left up our sleeves. The problem is, everyone knows which card it is because everyone else at the table is card counter.

  3. Matt says:

    Late to the dance here.

    Ummm, Most years Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue would consider it good fortune to stay within three TDs of BYU in a head-to-head matchip. That puts the Cougars squarely in the middle of the Big 10 on a regular basis, with a good shot every few years of contending for the conference chamionship game.

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