BYU Football Declares Independence

August 31, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 3:52 pm   Category: Sports

It’s on folks.

San Jose Mercury

Official statements:


  1. Cool.

    In all honesty, I think this is a good move, but deep inside I think it was triggered out of envy. BYU officials needed to counterbalance all the media generated by Utah joining the Pac10. They needed to do something to bring the spotlight to themselves and not be left behind. Kind of needy, but I still think it is a good move.

    Comment by Manuel — August 31, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  2. Sorry, Manuel. I don’t think it’s Ute envy.

    I actually think the primary motivation is what I’m guessing are probably thousands of complaints that Holmoe and President Samuelson have gotten over the years from alumni who are upset about not being able to see many games.

    And loads of money being a close second.

    Comment by Eric Russell — August 31, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  3. I don’t think it was Ute envy, I still think it’s prep for joining the Big-12 – although perhaps that’s just projective wishing. In either case I suspect our schedule will get better. The real question is whether we can step up to the schedule. I’m worried this year is a building year when we really need I really great year. Hopefully we win this weekend. If we can upset TCU this year that would be fantastic!

    Comment by Clark — August 31, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  4. Wow, right after the scoop in the press about how this was not going to happen ;)

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 31, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

  5. I absolutely love the move. I think it will be a home run. Not only can BYU make more like $10 million per year in football TV revenues (as opposed to $1.3M per year now), the Cougars can also be seen on ESPN for home games. Plus we can potentially schedule some really great opponents every year.

    The same goes for hoops. Games against solid teams like Gonzaga and St. Mary’s on ESPN starting next season. That also means BYU highlights on SportsCenter more often. I am very stoked about it.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 31, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  6. Now if we could just get BYU football to become independent of BYU….

    Comment by Aaron — September 1, 2010 @ 5:06 am

  7. I’m stunned. I really thought that after the Fresno St. and Nevada moves they were going to have to stay in the MWC. This move is definitely intriguing. Having ESPN in the mix helps as they will probably get a Thursday or Friday night game along with a couple of Saturday Prime-Time games depending on the opponent.

    Comment by Tim J — September 1, 2010 @ 6:09 am

  8. I’ve talked myself into liking this, and the other sports (especially) joining the WCC instead of the now-depleted WAC helps.

    Comment by Christopher — September 1, 2010 @ 7:00 am

  9. The ESPN part is the part that I like. The MWC sucked. Of course, BYU and Utah (my team) were the driving forces behind the creation of the MWC (from the old WAC). They have only themselves to blame.

    Comment by Chris H. — September 1, 2010 @ 7:17 am

  10. Geoff: Thanks for keeping up with this. I really appreciate it.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2010 @ 7:57 am

  11. I am of the opinion that this is a mistake. Unless its part of some grand scheme to bring all sports including football into the Big 12. I hope the three upcoming games against Texas are the bridge into the Big 12.

    I am not sure if it helps them schedule good football opponents or not more then they do already. Time will tell. BYU seems to want to schedule Big 12 teams. Which is a smart move.

    Comment by bbell — September 1, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  12. People are saying that BYU is just using this as a stepping stone and will bolt the second the Big12 comes calling but I don’t think that is accurate. Greg Wrubell tweeted this earlier this morning:

    Gonzaga AD Mike Roth: BYU “has given us assurances and backed that” about not using WCC as stepping stone to another conference affiliation.

    There is a chance that with ESPN as a partner this independent route could be better for BYU than even a Big12 berth. It certainly provides more flexibility for the special requirements BYU has regarding Sunday play and whatnot. The bigger problem with the Big12 is that it remains fragile at best. If this move works out for BYU don’t be surprised to see Texas go independent as well. If Texas leaves the Big12 will fall to pieces anyway.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  13. A good post on how constricting and stupid the Comcast/.mtn deal was at times. Read here.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 9:11 am

  14. Would BYU turn down a Big 12 invitation if it came?

    Comment by Steve Fleming — September 1, 2010 @ 9:36 am

  15. That seems unlikely Steve. But I suspect that BYU has made some commitments that it will need to fulfill fill at least for a couple of years.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  16. @ #2,

    Yeah, I agree. But it was my understanding BYU had been thinking about this for years. But not coincidentally, they made it happen suddenly right after the media frenzy over UT going to the pac10, a far superior conference than mwc. I don’t think Ute envy was the primary motivation, but I cannot help to suspect it was quite a catalyst for the final decision.

    I know for a fact BYU fans (and I am willing to bet BYU officials) hated the tones of some of the media coverage at the time UT went, some headlines almost making the juxtaposition “UT moves on, BYU snubbed.” I cannot help but to firmly believe it was a considerable factor, the drop that finally spilled the glass.

    Comment by Manuel — September 1, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  17. The Utah move was a factor but I don’t think it is accurate to attribute the motivation to jealousy. The leadership of BYU and Utah are friendly with each other and there was reportedly somewhat of an unwritten pact between the two schools that that would work to get a BCS conference invite as a pair. The Pac10 was the most obvious destination all along.

    However it recently became clear that Mormonism was the sticking point for the liberal-leaning Pac10 schools — especially after the Prop 8 thing. So when the invite was extended to Utah only, Utah took it. With BYU’s neighbor out of the picture and with ESPN knocking and with the HD facility completed the stars all aligned for BYU to break loose from the fiasco that is The mtn.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  18. Still not sure how I feel about this. As an east coast BYU fan, I love independence from The Mnt. I don’t think BYU will have too much of a problem with scheduling, both their season and bowl games. In fact, I think this will strengthen their football program (increased exposure and money means potentially better recruiting, better coaching, better facilities, etc.).

    My hesitation is the WCC affiliation. Intellectually I understand the arguments in favor of it, but my gut doesn’t like it. There’s something lopsided about a school the size (in presence) of BYU being in the same conference as a San Francisco and a Portland. It doesn’t feel right. The only way this feels okay is to consider it a stepping stone to the Big-12 (regardless of what Gonzaga is being told). And I don’t know if I buy that this is better than the Big-12. I guess we’ll see what happens over the next couple years.

    But either way, I’m stoked for the change and excited for this season to get underway!

    Comment by Rusty — September 1, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  19. Every home game on an ESPN network for eight years. And six years of home-and-home against ND. This is sounding even better than I thought.

    Comment by Eric Russell — September 1, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  20. Yep Eric, that is huge. 100% of home football games on ESPN family of networks for 8 years. Then same-day rebroadcasts on BYU-TV. That is HUGE.

    Plus the 6 game deal with ND is a sign of awesomeness to come.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  21. Rusty,

    In college hoops conference is largely moot for one simple reason: The Big Dance.

    All that matters is getting in at as high of a seed as possible. Team reputation are made at the NCAA tourney. The beauty of hoops is that every good team really does get a shot at the title.

    Also, ESPN has rights to broadcast all BYU home games if they want and the rest will be on BYUtv. The WCC will be a major step up for BYU hoops for those reasons. BYU just needs to schedule well out of conference like Gonzaga does every year. With ESPN on board that will be an easier task.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  22. It looks like the Moraga Ward is going to continue to have a St. Mary’s player or two in attendance.

    Comment by Wm Morris — September 1, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  23. The Tribune is reporting that BYU is working on scheduling home-and-home series with Clemson and Texas Tech, as well. Assuming BYU and Utah work out a deal to keep their rivalry going, that’s looking like one helluva strong schedule for the Cougs. Clemson, Texas, ND, Texas Tech, and Utah? Wow.

    Comment by Christopher — September 1, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  24. As an ACC fan, I would like to see BYU take Clemson with them into the ranks of the independents. Not because they are a sports powerhouse in the conference-those days are long gone-but because they are rednecks and really belong with the rest of the rednecks in the SEC. We’ll trade Clemson for Vandy. It will be nice to see BYU drill Clemson. BYU, please don’t let us Clemson haters down.

    As someone with only a passing-no pun intended-interest in BYU sports, I am astonished at what I’ve read about their MWC package. Whoever negotiated that deal with the MWC needs to be fired. How in the world can a school like BYU only get a little over 1 million from its conference affiliation? That is amazing, to me at least.

    Best of luck. One thing even BYU haters have to admit, BYU has always been willing to schedule anyone, unlike the Penn States, Alabamas, Georgias, and Ohio States of the football world.

    Comment by rbc — September 1, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  25. Great point about Texas Geoff. I’d not seen that quote. That really suggests this is permanent. If Texas goes indie that’d be fantastic though. There are reports of them looking at the kbyu studios and potentially using it for some broadcasting.

    Comment by Clark — September 1, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  26. To add if both the WAC and the Big-12 collapse with Texas going independent and the MWC hangs on by a thread this could be what brings down the current system.

    Comment by Clark — September 1, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  27. If this move by BYU and a subsequent move by TX leads to the collapse of the BCS I am all for it.

    If the Cougs get a better schedule out of this then it looks like a better move for them

    Comment by bbell — September 1, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  28. The West Coast Conference just feels more prestigious than the Mountain West. Eight small, private religious schools mostly in California: Pepperdine, Santa Clara, etc. Pepperdine is in Malibu, for instance. Compare that to the University of Wyoming being in Laramie.

    For a long time, BYU and many of its graduates have had a certain level of prestige. The top tier of BYU graduates are on par with the best that America has to offer. Both BYU and its football team have long since outpaced the likes of UNLV, Wyoming, Colorado State, and New Mexico. A break-off was long overdue.

    I was a little worried about scheduling a full slate as an independent, but my fears have evaporated after hearing about the 6-game deal with Notre Dame. I have a feeling that many more great deals will be inked.

    BYU, Notre Dame, Army, and Navy are now the college football independents. That is very prestigious company.

    5 years from now we will look back and shake our heads in disbelief that BYU used to play in the Mountain West.

    Comment by California Condor — September 1, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  29. I think that the BYU win over Oklahoma last year is looming larger and larger. It has already been referred to as the most influential game of the season (because of the Bradford injury).
    I think that the high ratings, attendance, and money generated all had a major impact on ESPN and the BYU administration. That game generated almost as much money as the entire MTN TV contract.
    It is likely that the major players saw this and really started giving serious consideration to this type of change. The Utah exit only increased the likelihood because the BCS auto-bid (with the big money) was reduced. I look forward to watching every BYU football game and 10-15 basketball games live on TV starting next year.

    Comment by el oso — September 1, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  30. As it happens, BYU is playing within a day’s drive this year, so I get to cheer in person.

    Question: Does the team still do the pre-game Haka for which they were famous?

    Comment by Naismith — September 2, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  31. “Question: Does the team still do the pre-game Haka for which they were famous?”


    Comment by Chris H. — September 2, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  32. I concur with the postings that this is a bold, future looking move, even though it entails some risk as does any other bold, future looking action which is contrary to the present state of affairs. I also believe that if this move is successful in terms of national exposure and additional school revenue, other teams such as Texas may seriously explore going independent for its football program. (Imagine how much TV money Texas could generate as an independent, national team.) I seriously doubt that BYU has any intent or interest in joining the Big 12 conference which is in a very unstable position and will face difficulties if Texas leaves. In addition, the Big 12 has stated that it does not want to bring in any more teams because they would have to further split the revenue with the new teams. The no Sunday play rule is a further impediment for BYU joining that conference. Independence for football and association for all its other sports with a conference containing other faith based schools best serves BYU’s objectives and standards.

    Comment by Bruce H. — September 2, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  33. And what role did the NCAA Sunday games decision have in this process?

    Comment by Glenn Smith — September 2, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  34. At the press conference the WCC president stated that their conference would honor BYU no Sunday play policy in scheduling BYU games with other conference members. I also understand that any WCC conference tournaments (such as the basketball tournament) would be not include any Sunday games. We can therefore assume that BYU’s no Sunday play policy was an important element for BYU to join the WCC.

    Comment by Bruce H. — September 2, 2010 @ 12:15 pm