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Recently realigned BYU caught up in new speculation

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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Could BYU be ready to march into yet another conference marriage? Who knows? (Getty Images)  
Could BYU be ready to march into yet another conference marriage? Who knows? (Getty Images)  

Brigham Young is now a hot read to join the disintegrating Big 12. Unless it isn't. And it might not be.

But it doesn't matter in the end. Conference Roulette has now morphed into a fantasy game anyway, where folks talk about colleges being traded the way kids used to do trading cards.

And we mention BYU rather than Texas A&M because BYU just traded conferences. You probably don't know it because you're college football fans, and you think BYU just left the Mountain West to become an independent. But it did join a conference, the West Coast Conference, a tidy basketball mid-major that has given you Gonzaga and, more recently, Saint Mary's.

BYU signed on June 30. In other words, if this Big 12 talk is for real, or if BYU finds another partner in the next month, it will mean that it was a member of the WCC for less than 90 days.

I don't even think you get your cleaning deposit back for that one.

But this is the nature of college athletics today. No. That's the nature of what we think college athletics is about to become: a field of molten lava that will soon cool and leave four conferences of 16-18 teams apiece, and the rest to fend for themselves.

As in starve, or join the Missouri Valley.

Most folks see the end game, and some fans of smaller BCS schools or big fish in smaller ponds will argue about their schools' merits. This isn't that place, so get off the porch and bother someone else.

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But the end game will not come without significant upheaval, and most folks seem to like talking about the upheaval way ahead of time -- without the regard any deals that have already been struck.

Like BYU.

Imagine being Jamie Zaninovich, the WCC commissioner. You just got your deal extended for services rendered, you got named to the Division I Basketball Tournament Committee (a pretty nice perk as these things go), and you just hooked BYU. Your life is pretty much hammocks and tall beers on warm sunny days.

And now, your brand new zaftig girlfriend, the one you just introduced to the folks, is looking longingly at the fence. Don't you feel a right old prat?

But that's the deal, and that's going to be the deal until the cannibalism portion of college sports runs its cycle.

It has had its money grabs. It has had its spite walkout. Hell, the Big 12 has been killed and saved and killed again so often that its logo may as well be a vampire on a field of wheat.

But just when we think we're done making new scenarios, we've decided to put BYU back in play. And Florida State. And, well, pretty much every school except our good and loyal friends at Iowa State, who turned nasty the last time we referenced them in good fun. Some of them didn't see the fun in it, which is why we've decided not to needlessly agitate them again.

See, the one thing we do know is that this has just started, and there are miles to go until the winners break open the bottles and the pigs get slaughtered. Hell, BYU could end up in a gigantic Big God Conference with all the disenfranchised Catholic colleges with good basketball and small-time or no-time football.

Which is actually where they are now, given that San Diego is the only other WCC school with a football program, and the Toreros are in an FCS league (the Pioneer League) with natural and long-standing geographical rivals like Jacksonville, Valparaiso, Marist and Dayton.

But that's a thigh-slapping, commode-hugging good time for another day. This is about BYU, Free Agent. Frankly, we think the Cougars are a natural fit in the Big East, or maybe as part of a new ACC if Florida State or Miami jump ship, or maybe the SuperNova Belt, where it can joust with Middle Tennessee and Troy.

Hey, your completely made-up, beer-fueled, can-you-top-this scenario is as good as ours.

Oh, and pick up some of that new WCC stationery as soon as you can. It's about to become a collector's item.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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