Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free at last

We finally got what we've been waiting weeks for: An official word from BYU.

That word? Independence.

I gotta tell you, I'm feeling more excited about BYU sports than I have in a long, long time. I feel free. I feel like the shackles of an inferior conference have finally been broken, and we left 8 (or is it 10? or 11?) teams-worth of dead weight in the dust.

Independence means BYU controls its own destiny. It means we schedule who we want, when we want, with our own TV deal. We can rebroadcast our games, we can use BYUTV to its full extent, and we don't have to share Bowl and TV money with a bunch of bottom-dwellers.

Most importantly, though, independence means BYU has taken a giant step forward in the arena of exposure. We now have two platforms, BYUTV and ESPN, who reach about a trillion more homes than the mtn did in its best day. We can schedule teams from every region of the US, and we are free to spread our wings as a national brand.

Independence fits BYU's mission perfectly. And we have the support, facilities and resources to make it work. We're not Notre Dame, but we're not Utah State either (remember when USU tried to make a go as an independent?).

For BYU fans who are worried about scheduling and bowl games, I say to you relax. ESPN and the prospect of playing on national TV will help us out tremendously in that avenue. And bowl games never work out perfectly. At-large teams are always needed. And BYU draws crowds. We won't be left empty handed come bowl season.

I'm so happy guys, I can't even stand it. There's a double rainbow made of hope on the horizon for BYU.

For my ongoing thoughts on independence and all things BYU, be sure to follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/aolsen

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My thoughts about going independent

Either this is one of the most bizarre power plays in school history, or BYU football is going independent. The rest of the BYU sports program will be picked up by the WAC.

Notre Dame has a similar agreement with the Big East, by the way. They are football independents, but play every other sport in the Big East Conference.

But anyway, it's in print. It's a done deal, it seems. As much as we want to shake our heads in denial, it appears that the dream of football independence is just a press conference away.

I think it's awesome.

Seriously, I couldn't be happier about this situation. For every negative point, I can think of at least two positive ones. Here are some quick thoughts I had when I heard the news:

*Scheduling won't be a problem. The No. 1 concern for most Cougar fans is scheduling, but I'm here to tell you: it won't be a problem. First, we'll have games against our fellow independents: Navy, Army and the big boy, Notre Dame. Second, the WAC will be a scheduling partner, giving us 4-5 more games every year. It'll be easier than ever to schedule Utah (even though I still say we shouldn't), and all we'll have to do is fill in the cracks with a few mid-tier BCS teams and some good non-AQs.

*Regarding scheduling, one thing BYU fans need to realize is we had a poor, poor football schedule in the MWC. Teams like CSU, UNLV and New Mexico were perennially in the bottom ten teams in the country. We don't have to do a lot to improve our schedule.

*BYU basketball, and all other sports, will be just fine. Sure, the competition level will go down a little bit, but BYU will still control their own fate. They'll still be able to play their way into the NCAAs, and they'll still have a shot at some good competition. I'm not worried about basketball at all.

*BYU independence will only work if ESPN is a willing partner. And it looks like they are. Reports are that ESPN has a gentleman's agreement with BYU to air 4-5 games a season, paying the Y around $2 million for each airing. Incidentally, BYU gets about $1.8 million from The mtn. network... PER SEASON.

*I see this as a two-year thing. BYU won't be independent forever. I see an invite to the Big 12 within two years.

*Regarding the BCS, I don't think BYU needs a Notre Dame-like clause to the bylaws of the BCS. Notre Dame has a pretty sweet path to a BCS game, and I doubt the powers that be will make a similar deal for BYU. Rather, I would just like BYU to get automatic consideration if they are in the top 14 in the BCS polls at the end of the year. Seems reasonable, right?

*Overall, this is a great move for BYU football. We finally get to break free from the awful, awful, AWFUL television deal we have with the MWC and use our state-of-the-art television production studio. We can broadcast our own games on our own HD station, and for that matter re-broadcast them. No longer will we be under the thumb of The mtn. and their army of interns who produce YouTube-quality film on gameday.

I think this makes BYU more attractive to big-name teams, who won't mind playing in Provo on ESPN, and attractive for future BCS Conference affiliation.

I hope I expressed my thoughts clear enough. I'd love to hear your opinions about the whole deal. Please leave your comments and thoughts below, and then I'll respond, and we'll do the thing where we go back and forth. Let's get the conversation going.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

5 pre-season predictions

The long wait is over! After enduring months of meaningless regular season baseball games and the 24-hour-a-day Brett Favre watch, I'm happy to report that it's time for college football.

BYU players report tomorrow, and fall camp officially begins on Saturday. So that means I've been eating, drinking and sleeping BYU football.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the upcoming season, and while I'm no insider expert by any means, I've come up with a few predictions for the 2010 season. Please, indulge me.

1. Riley Nelson will start the first game of the season.

I am a Jake Heaps fan. The kid has some crazy talent, and he'll be a great QB at BYU, no doubt. But when I started thinking about it logically, I came to the conclusion that there's no way BYU will throw him to the dogs (Huskies, actually) so early. Riley Nelson will start vs. Washington.

2. BYU's defense will be VERY good.

There is a lot of young, raw talent on the defensive side of the ball for BYU in 2010. Guys like Zac Stout, Tayo Fabuluje and DeQuan Everett have all the measurables... just not the experience. Fortunately for BYU, Bronco Mendenhall recruits mature, disciplined players, and they'll be ready to answer the call.

I'm predicting a defense, led by Jordan Pendleton, Andrew Rich and others, that will be as good as any BYU defense we've seen in recent years.

3. BYU will beat Washington... lose to Florida State.

Despite having Jake Locker, the projected No. 1 draft pick of the 2011 draft, the Huskies will fall in Provo this year. BYU will come out swinging, and defense will be the deciding factor. BYU's got it, Washington doesn't. But, the magic won't last because BYU is going to get rocked at Florida State this year.

4. Drew Phillips will return a kick for a TD.

We've been waiting for it for years, but Drew Phillips, the speedy return man from Alabama, will return a kickoff for a touchdown in 2010.

5. BYU's final record in 2010 will be... 10-2

Losses at Florida State and TCU. It would seem that this is the year to pick the Y to struggle, but I just don't see many losses on the schedule for the Cougs.

There it is. There are my five predictions.