"We would love to be in the Big 12," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall told Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman last Thursday. "I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense."
This is not the first time the subject of BYU joining the Big 12 has come up. That idea floated around in 2011 when rumors surfaced that the Provo school was reportedly in membership talks with the Big 12. At that time that conference had been weakened with the losses of Colorado and Nebraska, and the impending losses of Missouri and Texas A&M. Those talks with BYU broke down and the conference invited TCU and West Virginia, coupled since with the decision to remain with its present 10 members.
But that is not stopping Mendenhall from making a plea for the Cougars to be invited to the Big 12. "Our attendance is high enough," he says. "And our winning percentage is high enough. We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the church. There'd be a ton to offer the Big 12 because it's a money-generated world right now. You're talking about an amazing kind of brand."
Yes, BYU has plenty to offer a conference. But Mendenhall’s pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears. Davis says he has talked to two sources in the Big 12 and they said, "BYU’s chances are slim."
The recent snubs by the ACC and SEC in their future scheduling only underscores the problem of being an independent without a conference affiliation. It is going to make it more difficult in the future for the Cougars to fill in their football schedule with opponents from the so-called P5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC). Another problem already looming in the immediate future will be finding post-season bowls against P5 opponents.
Two reasons come to mind why there is little support among Big 12 officials to add BYU. The first is that any conference expansion will likely be eastward seeking footholds in the east/southeast with one or two teams out of Florida and maybe Cincinnati as a travel partner for West Virginia. The idea of adding a western outlier like BYU seems remote.
The second reason is that many Big 12 presidents prefer the status quo. Last week at its annual spring meeting it was announced that the 10 conference schools will divide up a record $220.1 million in revenue, giving each a bigger piece of the pie.