Lately, there has been some discussion, sometimes heated, of BYU going independent, the Fresno St. and Nevada addition, a C-USA/MWC Merger, and Houston becoming a member of the MWC. I voiced my opinion on some of these threads discussing these topics and just wanted to piece it all together. I'm sure some of you will disagree and you are welcome to disagree in the comments if you feel like it.
Let's start with what started the whole expansion round - rumors of BYU going independent. I have to admit, when I saw that headline I was shocked. It just didn't make enough sense to me, then I thought about it. They have a new media center and could make some money by scheduling marquee opponents and being able to televise them on their own channel. Then I thought to the realistic side. BYU is not Notre Dame and is not considered a privilege to have them scheduled. BYU-TV does not have a good coverage reach and they will not be able to schedule marquee games against Top 10 opponents as an independent. Texas and Oklahoma were one time deals that will not be scheduled as an independent. And when you can't schedule good games, you're not going to get a TV Deal like Notre Dame's.
My opinion still is that BYU should stay in the MWC. This would be the worst time to leave, right when you know whether or not you're going to be in a BCS Conference, whether the TV Deal will get better and the chance at getting the BCS AQ every year if you're such a good football team. If they stay, the chances for the MWC of getting a BCS AQ are very good. We meet the criteria in two of the categories, but fall one spot short on Category #2. In the two categories that we meet the criteria, the ACC is two spots out. With that being the case, it will be very hard for the BCS to deny the MWC an exemption. With that being the case, the amount of money we as a conference would make once we are in the BCS is 18.56 million dollars, Making an extra 1.5 million go to each team.
The current TV deal is 1 or 2 million dollars per school and that can be easily raised. About a week ago, Craig Thompson flew out to Comcast's headquarters on the East Coast (Comcast owns Versus, which is part of the TV Deal. They also are a major provider of The Mtn. and CBS College on the West Coast). It is believed that what came out of that meeting is that Comcast would expand the reach of the MWC's three TV Channels to Texas and the East Coast if they were able to add the Houston market, which potential candidate plays in Houston? Well, Houston. If we add Houston our TV deal value jumps in size to about 3 or 4 million per team.
That makes the amount of money we have in two or three years be... 4.5 to 5.5 million instead of 1 to 2 million dollars. I'm working on a seperate article breaking down everything of potential of the TV Deal for us, so I won't spoil the rest of the info that I'm working on, but there is even more potential after that. I've already described why BYU won't make very much more money as independent than in the current MWC TV Deal, and now I've described what would happen if they stay in the conference. The difference is staggering, about 3 million more per year if they stay in the MWC. It makes more sense for BYU to stay than it does for them to go.
Next up is the Fresno State and Nevada addition. This was a counteraction by Craig Thompson against Karl Benson to try and keep BYU from leaving the MWC for independence in football and the WAC for all their other sports. You see, if Thompson was able to steal Fresno St. and Nevada, then the WAC would be on the brink of extinction, therefore giving BYU no place to go for their non-revenue sports.
This really made BYU think about where to go with their non-revenue sports. As soon as the addition happened, the WCC Commissioner started calling BYU about joining their league for non-revenue sports, but BYU hasn't returned any of their calls, so it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The only other option would be the Big West, and that's not a very good dropoff point for the rest of BYU sports, especially basketball.
Fresno State and Nevada really didn't add anything to the Mountain West, which is the bad thing about forcing BYU to stay this way. Neither one of them are above a 50 average in the category we need to bring as far as getting the BCS AQ goes and neither are in a big TV market (although Fresno does expand our reach to Northern California). The only thing this really does is split the pie two more ways, and make the overall conference stronger, now being able to say that it's not just the Big 3 that are good, we now have Wyoming, Air Force, Fresno St. and Nevada as well. The other plus is that they bring in natural rivalries - Fresno St. with SDSU and Nevada with UNLV. Although Nevada may help out in the BCS after all, they have a very talented football team this year and if they can get 10 or 11 wins, they could easily finish in the Top 25.
Third is the C-USA/MWC merger talks. I personally cringed when I saw that, C-USA is not a conference even near the BCS AQ and to join up with them when we really don't have to would have just given them help, a one-sided relationship if you will. The merger is supposed to simply be the two conference champions playing each other in a championship game with the winner receiving the BCS AQ. This seems like it would be great news for a conference that has no shot at getting a BCS AQ - that is C-USA. The MWC on the other hand has a 50% or better chance of getting the AQ without having to do a merger.
The strange thing about it is that both conference commissioners met on Thursday and both released simultaneous press releases of the meeting. This means that there are serious talks about this and should not be jotted down as a crazy rumor to be written off. My personal take on it is that the C-USA/MWC merger is just a backup plan for the MWC in case BYU does leave.
If BYU stays, then they don't need the C-USA in order to get an AQ. Even if that means that BYU leaves after the cutoff date of September 1st. If they decide to leave after September 1st, then the latest they can actuually leave would be July of 2012, which is after the BCS Evaluation period is over meaning that we get all of BYU's stats for that period.
If BYU leaves, then the MWC's chance at a BCS AQ is gone, meaning that they then implement Plan B which is merging with C-USA for the autobid. Now the scary thing is this, there is no guarantee that the winner of the C-USA/MWC championship game would go to the BCS. They first have to get approval from BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock, and he has shown a hatred toward the Non-BCS Conferences.
Lastly is will Houston join the MWC anytime soon. I think they will and here is why:
As I've mentioned before, Comcast has agreed with the MWC that if they add the Houston market, then the reach for the MWC Channels will go into Texas and the East Coast. That is huge news because that would bump the TV Deal money from 1-2 million dollars up to 2-3 million dollars. That really would be the reason we add Houston, not because of their BCS Stats as was the reason before. Not only does Houston bring with it Texas and the entire East Coast, but it also brings with it a championship game, which solves the issue of splitting the pie too many ways.
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