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BYU Is Now On The Clock To Decide Their Future

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BYU's grand plan to go independent has fallen on hard times as the WAC is falling apart with Nevada and Fresno State bolting to join the Mountain West and now Utah State is trying to get into the Mountain West. BYU is really insistent on getting out of the current television deal and are tired of being a team player for the better of the league with no pay out in sight:

"We're trying to put ourselves in position to be the best we can, which is exposure across the country, letting our kids shine in the bright lights," Holmoe said, according to the Deseret News.

BYU is unhappy with the limited reach of the Mountain West's TV partners - Versus, CBS College Sports and The Mtn. - and the restrictions on local broadcasts. The school also likely could make more money by striking its own TV deal.

According to reports, ESPN has offered $4 million to televise four BYU home football games. That is a good chunk of change and I would assume that BYU could maybe make another million on BYU-TV for their other games, but this was with the WAC heavy schedule. That amount seems a lot for ESPN to shell out what would most likely be two WAC opponents and the other two games would probably be one top BCS team like Texas, every other year they play Utah at home, and then in the off years with Utah maybe BYU would play Notre Dame or a Pac-12 school.

The mind boggling thing is that the payoff is more of a reality then it has been since the televisions deal came into place in for the 2006 football season. CBS is carrying the San Diego State vs. BYU basketball game which could lead to either more basketball games and more importantly football games. CBS would be smart to try to compete with the noon eastern football games by scheduling a Mountain West game to precede their SEC game. This would be an early kick either being a ten or eleven a.m. kick yes early, but a lot of the Big XII games on ABC have had eleven a.m. local kickoffs.

However, If BYU does go independent at least one Mountain West team will hold a grudge and that is San Diego State's Brady Hoke:

"Who's going to play BYU now?" Hoke said. "I don't know if we'll play 'em. They're not Notre Dame. I don't think they gain a thing [by going independent]. I think they're making a mistake."

Well, coach, there is one team that just agreed to play them a couple of times: little outfit down in the southwest, known as Texas.

That last comment was from Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew who covers BYU, and well that deal with Texas is a two for one series which is the same thing Wyoming received as well. Until BYU can consistently get big time programs who usually do not ravel out of their area and come to BYU like SEC teams and in late October and November then I will buy BYU as a force in the independent world if it comes to that.

So, where does BYU go now? They can still stay with the WAC and hope they add two more football playing members next summer, but the WAC may need three teams if Louisiana Tech leaves for a more travel friendly league like the C-USA or even the Sun Belt if shifting goes on there. This would be a tough sell for the minor sports who would have one good year in the WAC and then may have to move again to a different league all for the well being of the football team. Plus, scheduling would be an issue if the WAC stays in place, because in a seven team basketball league would have only 12 conference games which is one the low end and would require 18 or so more games to fill out there schedule.

The hoops could schedule against the basketball only independents during January when most schools are in conference play, but those schools typically are not any good and would be an RPI killer. Joining the West Coast Conference was discussed and is not going to happen, so what is left? There is the Big West but they are a step below the West Coast and not is an attractive option.

BYU could stay independent in football and keep their non-football sports in the Mountain West, but that may seem like a tough sell and again would the Mountain West football teams want to play BYU in football. Scheduling six or so games as the arrangement was with the WAC is one thing but getting seven to eight games in the near future and then eleven games scheduled (after the Utah game) will be much more difficult. Plus, there is still the lingering issue of not having any type of auto-bid toward the BCS.

Then there is what the compromise will end up being is that BYU will stay in the Mountain West as a full fledge member and Craig Thompson will make some concessions to satisfy BYU. This could include letting them have rights to one or two football games on BYU-TV, and do not be fooled those will not be marquee games. Perhaps, Comcast could come to the plate and provide a wider distribution of the Mtn. channel on their own networks since they do own the channel. Comcast has coverage in most of Texas and all along the east coast, so getting the channel on at least a mid level tier there would be a step up and if The Mtn. was an option on a non-sports pack tier that could make distribution sky rocket to 24 million cable subscribers.

My final thought is still that BYU will come back as a full fledge member of the Mountain West and then they will add Houston with to get to twelve teams. That is my thinking but the way BYU has been talking -- even on the limited basis -- they really want to use their new toy with the media center and they might be stubborn enough to go independent in football at the expense of the other sports. The only option that has long term viability while having football independence is to leave the Mountain West for football but stay with all the other sports, but again good luck scheduling Mountain West teams for football.

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