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BYU Strikes Deals With ESPN, The WAC And Notre Dame In Football

This is somewhat surprising to me that BYU did not go to the WAC due to things following apart with the Mountain West adding Fresno State and Nevada.  The original plan for BYU to play four to six teams in the WAC still looks to be taking place with an announcement expected later today: fill out its football schedule BYU is expected announce an alliance with the WAC that will provide it with four to six opponents each season.

UH [Hawaii] is expected to become an almost annual opponent through 2020 on a home-and-home basis. Before the departure of Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC on Aug. 18, plans were in the works for UH to play BYU in 2011, replacing Boise State, as well as additional games through 2016.

This is also under the assumption that the WAC will stay together for the next decade or so, because the WAC must have eight teams to stay an FBS league.   They have until the fall of 2012 to add the teams which means the WAC needs two schools by the summer of 2011.  Even if WAC teams all go indy for a few years while an FCS school makes a transition and an agreement could still be in place to play BYU in the interim.

A deal with ESPN is now official:

According to TV by the Numbers, which has a press release, BYU and ESPN have agreed to an eight-year deal beginning in 2011 that gives ESPN exclusive rights to all BYU home football games through 2018, with an option for 2019.

That's a win for BYU, which goes from a team hamstrung by its low-profile TV partners, Versus and The Mtn, to a team closely associated with the biggest name in college football broadcasting. It's only slightly mitigated by the fine print, as BYU play-by-play announcer Greg Wrubell tweets.

Fine print: eight-year deal is for every BYU home football game to be televised live on "ESPN family of networks or BYUTV."

Minimum three games on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC. Additional games on ESPNU. At least one game each season live on BYUTV.

However, the financial details have not been disclosed, even without the financial information being discussed BYU sees this as a vastly improved upgrade over the current television deal:

"We've long sought broad, nationwide access to our games for our fans and increased visibility among those who may be less familiar with our university and athletic programs," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "We've also been looking for ways to take better advantage of our own unique broadcasting resources."

BYU-TV reaches about 55 million households which is about half of what ESPN offers, but the channel is on basic packages of Dish Network and DirecTv; while it is on lower tier cable packages.  The channel will be able to broadcast in high definition, world wide, and available online.

Notre Dame has chimed in on BYU going independent and saying that BYU fits the mold of an independent school:

"(Independence) is not for everybody, but they certainly fit the profile of an institution for whom it probably does make great sense -- frankly, in the same way it still does for Army and Navy," Swarbrick told the Tribune on Wednesday.

"All the schools currently in that category have some common characteristics -- national profile, strong history and traditions that are important to honor. BYU adds to that, as I think Notre Dame has, media access. Not everybody can produce on their own. I know precious little of the details, but it certainly looks like a smart move, from where I sit."

Notre Dame and BYU look to have a series set up according to Stewart Mandel:

BYU details: 8-year deal w/ ESPN for home games, 6-year series w/ ND. Yeah, I think they did all right.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

So, it looks like BYU may actually have done a good move and by getting Notre Dame for six years. Their immediate future next year can be tough to fill out their schedule.  Notre Dame has an opening in 2011, but besides that BYU has on the schedule are @ Texas, @Oregon State, and against Utah State.  Who knows if the mock WAC schedule is still in place which looked like this below:

• BYU at Fresno State;
• BYU at Hawaii;
• Utah State at BYU;
• Nevada at BYU;
• San Jose State at BYU;
• New Mexico State at BYU.

The long term future looks good but 2011 and 2012 may have BYU playing a similar schedule to their current Mountain West slate, but the reward of playing good opponents will come in 2013 when other teams have an opening in their schedule.

BYU looks to be winning the PR battle by partnering with ESPN and Notre Dame, but just remember there is a reason Miami, Penn State, and Florida State eventually joined a league.  Being an independent is tough due to scheduling twelve games a year, and if there is a home and home with Hawaii that means thirteen games a year.

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