Conference realignment has been circled around the Big 12 in who they may or may not invite but there is a new twist when a former BYU football player is suggesting that the Cougars go back to the Mountain West.
Former offensive lineman Jason Buck played for BYU in the late 1980s and won the Outland Trophy award in 1986 and was a first-round NFL Draft pick, so his opinion carries some weight.
Buck has consistently said that BYU should have never left the Mountain West for independence back in 2011 and his opinion has not wavered.
“What I really believe is we’ve got to take one step back to take two steps forward,” in an interview with the Deseret News.
“Jason Buck says right now, let’s fill the stadium,” he says, quoting, himself. “Expand it to 80,000 and sell out — and go back to the Mountain West and go to the Fiesta Bowl, and they can’t ignore you any more; the clamor is too high.”
Buck’s point is to play a less-demanding schedule which also will have an easier path to a New Year’s Bowl game and show the Big 12 that the Cougars are a great program and achieve what Boise State has done over the past decade of going to multiple Fiesta Bowls and 10-plus win seasons.
His idea is good in theory but the timing is way off since the Big 12 is the last power conference who is likely to add teams, and if the Cougars are going to get the call up the time is now and not five years down the road.
A few things with this idea. First off, BYU fans hate this idea of going back to the Mountain West because they now have a much better schedule and are making much more money as an independent.
However, the money could be had for BYU to rejoin the Mountain West if their current deal is included which pays them about a million per home game, but the rest of the Mountain West would not want another Boise State in the conference who will be at a financial advantage. With BYU having their own deal the overall value with having the Cougars likely would not involve in that much of a bump, and even if a 14th team is added the value might not be there with BYU getting a larger share of the pie.
Getting back to point one of this about BYU fans not wanting to rejoin the Mountain West, well there are plenty of higher ups in the Mountain West who would not want them back in the league. Or if they do come back it will be on the Mountain West’s terms and not BYU’s and the Cougars will not give up their schedule and take less money for a chance to have an easier access to a big time bowl game.
There is a reason the teams that joined BYU in breaking away from the WAC to former the Mountain West have not really played the Cougars. In the regular season only UNLV has played BYU and the Rebels do not have the same history as playing Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming and others who have played BYU for decades. The only reason San Diego State played BYU was due to the bowl matchup.
The reason for the lack of playing those Mountain West schools in football is because of the bad blood for them ditching the conference to go an independent path when both TCU and Utah were cherry picked to join a power conference.
With Independence finally going well for BYU the odds of them going back to the Mountain West, or any other non-power conference, is very slim as they are now able to schedule well after manning the first few years of playing then-WAC schools to build out over half of their schedule and they are getting a few more good teams to come to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Adding BYU back would be a great addition to the league for the prestige they bring but the Mountain West should not cater and make a bigger divide from the top and bottom. As for the Cougars they do not want to give up the advantages they have built up by going the independent path.
So, basically this is not going to happen.