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.