Just over a week ago BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe talked with the media mainly about expansion (or in his snobby way of saying it is referred to as membership) and the rivalry with Utah. One thing that Holmoe focused a lot of time on the new media center that BYU just finished. Holmoe was also talking about how BYU can make itself more attractive to better their situation; which obviously means trying to get into the Big XII, going independent and then making a pitch to ESPN. BYU will not budge on their Honor Code or playing on Sunday which does not make them more attractive, but winning can and by getting into a BCS game is a move in the right direction.
The biggest chip is the brand new media center that sits across the street from LaVell Edwards stadium and at any time can broadcast any sporting event or really any event on campus event in high definition. BYU-TV is also on the basic package of DirecTv, Dish Network, and on a lot of cable companies packages. Where as The Mtn is only available nationwide via DirecTv, but if you live outside of the conference foot print and parts of Arizona or Idaho you have to purchase the sports package. Most cable carriers in the league footprint have The Mtn, but not all of them are not on the most basic package as it is in Utah. This is huge, because when ever there is a game on television those giant trucks are brought in with the equipment which put the game in high definition and are really, really expensive, and that is a reason why The Mtn. has had select games in high definition and just now is having every football game (not studio shows) in high definition.
Getting into the Big XII by using this media center is still a long shot but it can not hurt their chances. The way to get into the Big XII is to somehow bring in $17 million a year which would equal existing teams share, and even with the media complex BYU will fall well short of that number. The Big XII maybe intrigued enough, because for BYU home games the television companies would only need to send the talent, producers, and other technical crew they work with. Where the television truck and the people who run it are not necessary and that could save these companies a lot of money. One over looked sport could be baseball because BYU-TV produces a lot of baseball games for The Mtn. and that could be an extra revenue source that BYU brings in. Big XII baseball is good with Texas and Oklahoma routinely being nationally ranked teams and sometimes a few others; that money would not be huge but it is something to bring in more money. The way this could really pay off is if the Big XII were to have their own television network which would save on costs when BYU has home games where there would not be those extra costs for broadcast trucks.
All of those items most likely would not get BYU in the Big XII, but if the Big XII fails (as I expect it will within five years) they could be a player in a new league with most of the former Big XII members with their media center being able to get things going on a television package. The other possibility is to have BYU football only go independent with the rest of the sports staying within the Mountain West, but I am not so sure that would fly since BYU would get to reap the riches in football by keeping all of their television and bowl money for themselves. Then all the while they would have the luxury and connivence of having a conference structure for their other sports. In that scenario BYU would sell themselves to ESPN first to get better exposure for home games, schedule opponents that have deals with ESPN, and for other home games put them either on BYU-TV in high definition (mostly) nationwide, and as a last resort a local station.
If BYU chose to take the plunge and go fully independent that would make other sports getting to the NCAA tournament nearly impossible as an at large team, but they could show every home sport on BYU-TV to a potential big audience. However, how many people want to watch gymnastics, swimming, and those other non-revenue sports. Going fully independent will not work at any level it is too much of a headache for the coaches in recruiting and for the AD Tom Holmoe when he is trying to schedule games in February for mens and women's basketball.
The other option would be for BYU to somehow become the Texas of the Mountain West where they can show some games on BYU-TV, and then get the rights to rebroadcast games that are shown on The Mtn, Versus, and CBS College while keeping the majority of the cash for games that are shown on BYU-TV. Again, I doubt CBS, Viacom, Comcast, NBC, or who ever is in charge of that conglomerate would allow BYU to rebroadcast games without some sort of rights fees; that may not be worth it for BYU in the long run.
The best option, as mentioned above, for BYU would try to become independent in football only where they can schedule more freely and not have to play Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego State on a regular basis. BYU could go out and possibly schedule the other independents in Notre Dame and Navy both who are attractive opponents plus they could keep Utah on the schedule. Also, for the first few years BYU would sprinkle in some Mountain West teams to help fill out the schedule. Even going independent in football only is a risky move unless they are able to secure some type of bowl tie for a good season that would be better then the Las Vegas Bowl.
Their BCS chances would still be the same where a top 12 finish or be top 14 (or 16 I forget it is still the off season) and ahead of another BCS conference champion. One idea could be to try to partner with the Big XII, Pac-10, or Big 10 and attempt to do what Notre Dame does with the Big East and partner with them in the bowl lineup.
The main reason to be independent in football is to improve their situation but if the bowl games are not any better what is the point by playing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Insight.com Bowl, and the others that are marginally better then the Las Vegas or Poinsettia Bowl. In the short term BYU should just concentrate on winning games, trying to get into a better league, and helping the Mountain West become a BCS league by winning games. The last one is the most realistic front which would bring in more money to BYU and the league from BCS money, and possibly even getting better exposure with games on over the air television with CBS and NBC since the two companies are together with the Comcast and NBC Universal deal.