BYU is now in the West Coast Conference, and now it is time to break it down what it means. First off here is the official statement from the the Mountain West and the only mention of BYU is in the title:
MWC Official Statement on BYU Departure
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - "Since its inception, the Mountain West Conference has worked strategically to grow and strengthen the league, in order to position itself at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics," said MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson. "Our Board of Directors' diligent exploration of options to advance the membership's objectives is ongoing. This includes conversations with our television partners to address issues of mutual importance, as well as determining the optimal configuration for the Conference and investigating the possibility of various collaborative alliances. We look forward to the future with great excitement - particularly welcoming recent additions Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada into the Mountain West."
Looks like a bunch of hate going on between the Mountain West toward BYU. Now, everyone knows my opinion that I think BYU should have stayed until December of 2011 to see if the league would have become a BCS league. However, according to SB Nation's BCS Evolution the Mountain West can still qualify for a petition to the BCS:
To be guaranteed an AQ for 2012 and 2013 the MWC must be in the top 6 in the average of the highest ranked team and the average computer ranking, and above 50% in the adjusted top 25 performance ranking.
The MWC will not make this in the average computer ranking, and would not have with BYU. Fresno State and Nevada are practically inconsequential. They will be in the top 7 and are on pace for the top 5 in the highest ranked team criteria. This makes them eligible to petition for an exemption.
Before BYU left the MWC's numbers were strongly supported by the strong showing in the adjusted top 25 performance criteria, which they were leading. They are still on pace for well above the 50% cutoff. Falling to #5, and in the thick of it for that much, makes the numbers look less cut and dry.
If the MWC can maintain or improve these numbers for the next two years they should be a close call for an AQ in 2012 and 2013.
This does make some sense since the only number that changes is the average ranking per team, but unless the bottom of the Mountain West all have amazing seasons, plus the ACC or Big East take a huge nose dive the Mountain West will not be granted a petition to be allowed into the BCS.
Why Go Independent
My gut reaction is that BYU wanted to make a splash and not be left behind as Utah was headed off to the Pac-10 and all the benefits that go with being in a BCS league. BYU has been used to casting the shadow over Utah, but recently the Utes have been moving up with their two BCS wins and then ultimately overcast BYU by going to the Pac-10.
The television deal was a mess from the beginning as BYU and Utah took less money for the benefit of the league to have the option to add more games on television on a larger scale to the nation. Comcast never got their act together and never added The Mtn. on a basic tier to their east coast subscribers even though they owned the channel.
High definition finally came to the league on a part time basis two years ago with this year being the first time all games will be on high definition. Mounting problems of distribution by The Mtn. and CBS College was getting to BYU and they wanted more. The building of their new media center to go along with BYU-TV had the administration salivating over the possibility of broadcasting all of BYU's sports in high-def and to a much larger fan base.
The money that the television deal was only providing each team just under two million dollars a year, and compare that to the $15 million or so Utah would be getting made BYU jealous. The expected deal BYU is getting from at least ESPN is maybe four million dollars and maybe upwards toward eight million from Fox Sports and BYU-TV, but that is still at least half of what Utah is getting.
Their was hope that the television deal was getting better as CBS was airing a regular season basketball game over the air, so there was a chance that football could shortly be seen on CBS. Or there is the mega merger between NC Universal and Comcast which could have put games on NBC, but these are all speculation and BYU just got tired of waiting for the big payoff.
MWC release says it has consulted with it's TV partners on the future. In other words, Comcast wouldn't budge with concessions for BYU.
The deal with the WAC had BYU getting four to six guaranteed games every year, but now with the WAC falling apart who will BYU play in football. In 2011 BYU has only three games scheduled and with the Utah game still in flux it will be interesting to see how BYU can get nine games in the next year. BYU may still get play some WAC teams at least in 2011 which will help.
What a lot of people want to see is if BYU can schedule quality opponents in late October and November. If they schedule FCS opponents or teams from the Sun Belt to fill out their late season schedule how is that better then what they are in now.
Money weighs out if it means that BYU will be playing games against Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, and others of that ilk. ESPN most likely will help BYU schedule quality late season games since they will be a business partner and want good games to program. The schedule will be an issue that and to think BYU will get a home and home against and SEC team those people are crazy. Here is a great tweet that sums up BYU's scheduling.
So what are the chances of UF playing new indie BYU? Same as chances of BYU visiting the Swamp w/no return game for $700,000.
As Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory would say: Bazinga!
That is my point the scheduling will be basically the same for BYU in the next few years. Yes, they can say they are on ESPN but that is about it. Plus, BYU-TV will be just as hard to find if not harder in comparison to the other channels since it is not near any other sports channel, and the casual football fans will not seek out BYU games unless their team is playing the Cougars.
SB Nation's BYU site Vanquish The Foe sums it up nicely on the football side:
I am no longer the fan of independence I once was. For the football team it presents a challenge in motivation and the essence of college football...There is no conference championship to be won. That means the sole motivator every year is going to be a BCS game and the only championship you can win is a National Championship. In the last 10 years BYU has won 4 MWC titles. They have only won 1 National Championship in the school's history. They have not been ranked in the top 10 at the end of the year in over 20 years. To me it takes a big punch out of the recruiting pitch. You can no longer show off those MWC conference rings and tell kids that BYU is always in the hunt for a championship.
Will it Work?
I am not concerned about the scheduling of the football team. They will find teams to play. They will most likely force games with other independents to be at the back end of the schedule so as to not disrupt other school's conference play. They will gain more national exposure, but have to keep winning 10+ games a year in order to garner the respect they are seeking.
I see this as a 2-3 year play to build national prominence and then they will look to affiliate themselves with a bigger conference, possibly the BIG 12 when they move to make a Super Conference.
I complete agree with VTF about this because yes they will be getting a lot more money then they currently do in the Mountain West, but what happens if BYU starts of 1-3 or something not so good what is there to go for a mediocre bowl game and no conference championship. This is a risk that BYU is taking, they are going for the all mighty dollar and more exposure by being on ESPN, BYU-TV and perhaps Fox Sports Rocky Mountain.
Their ultimate goal is to get to a BCS league, because in 'The Project' had a five year deal for BYU being in the WAC, and their hope was that either the Big XII came their way to get back to twelve teams or create a new league that would be BCS worthy. BYU will be back in a league by 2016, what league no clue since the college football landscape will definitely change again and BYU will be drug back in.
In the mean time BYU most likely not have any special deal to gain a BCS bid like Notre Dame or even be able to be in the top 12 as a non-BCS bid like they were eligible in the Mountain West. Now, the only auto bid comes with being one or two, and we all know that is a long shot, so BYU can only be chosen as an at-large team by being in the top 14. The only way BYU will be chosen is if they are in the top five and there are no eligible teams, just like Boise State was picked last year. This has actually happened to BYU in the past way back in 1996 where they were 6th in the country and were passed over the top bowls in what was known as the Bowl Coalition and ended up in the Cotton Bowl.
Basketball coach Dave Rose got thrown under the bus and is leaving a league that had four NCAA bids to a league that on a good year gets two bids. The only decent teams are Gonzaga and Saint Mary's and that is it. Now compare that to good teams as San Diego State, UNLV, and New Mexico. BYU fans who will get all pumped for this just remember your rival Utah is also going to San Francisco but is playing Cal and Stanford while BYU is playing the San Francisco University. How about Los Angeles, well Utah is playing UCLA and USC while BYU is playing Pepperdine and LMU. The picture is clear, and BYU hoops should be aware of being a great team in a so-so league. Just look back at Utah State a few years back who had 25-28 wins and was in the top 25 but was left out of the NCAA tournament.
I am not blaming BYU for looking out for number one, but they still could have left in 2011 after the BCS numbers came out to see if the Mountain West was a BCS league, and if they were a BCS league then the money would increase and exposure. If not then BYU could go independent because that option is not going anywhere.
No matter how one looks at it BYU was all about making the most money, and Randy Moss says it best.