Blog Entry

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer

Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.

While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.

Boise State

The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.

From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.

Florida State

If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.

Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.


The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).

The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?


Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.

The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.


If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.

The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.


Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 5:02 am

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Why just stop at some big name schools going independent -- why not bring back the notion behind the original BCS - the CFA.  It would make perfect sense for the nations top programs to completely ditch the NCAA, write their own rules and put together their own, football only association.  I could see the 32 teams in the country forming 4 - 8 team divisions with a playoff to determine the championship.  They could play a 12 game schedule, giving them 7 division games and 5 out of division games per year.
There is one scenario in which I would actually be alright with this, or something similar:  if a promotion/relegation system came with it.  After each season dump the last place team in each of these divisions and replace them with the first place team in a corresponding division on the lower level.  It lets the power teams duke it out while allowing for an up-and-coming team to earn their chance to run with the big dogs.  College football is absolutely screaming for some form of pro/reg: it won't ever happen, but I think it's a system that would be the best of both worlds.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:49 am

Declaring some football independents on July 4

That is a beautiful pep talk.

Bottom line.....your still not a BCS team.......never will be!

Since: Jul 5, 2011
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:36 pm

Your post while missing facts was interesting

BYU has been considering Independence for a number of years - it is true with utah's move to the PAC-12 it was the right time to bolt to Independence.  However, this is where facts help vs speculative comments made in your post:

1) the by-laws of the MWC states every member must sponsor a football program - therefore, BYU knew upfront it had to find another conference when the time came to make a move - they did so

2) BYU would not have remained in the MWC with its other sports even if the MWC had such by-laws allowing this

3) BYU is one of only four teams in the nation to had won 10 games or more in the past four seasons before last year's rebuilding project.

Reasons for BYU's move to Independence in football and their alignment with the WCC for most olympic sports:

1) Exposure - plain and simple.  When the MWC was formed and the Mountain network came to be - it was agreed upon that BYU could broadcast their games on their own TV network - BYUTV.  This promise was broken and never allowed.  The broken promise is well documented.  Therefore, BYU along with the other MWC schools were seen in limited markets and obscure programming.

BYU wants the exposure for its programs - all programs and Independence allows for that.

2) BYU just completed building a state of the art broadcasting facility on compass.  It can broadcast on four bands in HD plus has multiple radio stations.  It is recognzed as the best facility west of the Mississippi.  Univ. of Texas officials have visited the building in attempts to incorporate some of the design in their own facility.  BYU has a state of the art broadcasting truck - ESPN has inquired to lease the truck from BYU for some regional games.

You don't build an $80.0 million broadcasting facility and let it sit because your conference says you cannot show your games.  Keep in mind, BYUTV broadcasts world wide - Central America, South America, China, Africa etc.  BYUTV is one of the largest watched stations in China.

3) BYU can schedule games around the country allowing their national fan base to see more games while providing more exposure for the school, teams, and Church.

4) With the partner of ESPN (who is allowing BYU to broadcast their games on BYUTV) BYU will now be on national TV a minimum of six times on ESPN and all 12 games on BYUTV plus other platforms used by hosting teams/conferences.  I can think of only Notre Dame that has more games on national TV (ABC, CBS, ESPN, and Fox) in a given season.

5) Anyone who believes that teams like Baylor and BYU would be allowed into the PAC-12 under the current by-laws of the PAC-12 is mistaken.  While the polling showed BYU was the over whelming choice of the PAC-10's AD to join the conference - the Presidents at a few liberal schools would not allow such a move.  Hence, Baylor was voted out by these schools in their attempt to be admitted last year.

Why the WCC for most olympic sports

1) The conference is a group of schools aligned with the same values, ideals, and goals.  They are all religious schools

2) No Sunday play would be required or cause an issue among conference teams

3) The WCC is a strong Olympic sport conference - an upgrade from the MWC's olympic sports

3) Geograhically it's a perfect fit - with the majority of LDS members (within the United States) found in the West fans will have more 4ccess to games

BYU has made a long term commitment to the WCC - while the landscape may change in football - don't be surprised to see BYU remain in the WCC to fulfill its commitment to those eight schools for many years to come.

Go Cougars!!!!!!!!!

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:23 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Are we serious here?  With the bowl tie-ins assuring the champs of the major conferences of big money bowls going independent would be incredibly stupid.  If you crowd the at-large field with these programs somebody will have a good year and be on the outside watching a lesser team from their old conference play a BCS game.  As it is now, these schools get two cracks at a BCS game: once for winning the conference and again if they get an at large.  Plus, conferences are not the dead weight to these schools that people act like they are. 

Since: Sep 13, 2010
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:13 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

You sound like that idiot on ESPN, Colin Cowher or whatever his name is. The small schools have proven over and over that they can compete with and beat the big programs. Let's focus on making these big programs actually have their student-athletes actually get not only a degree but a learning experience while on scholarship. A degree will last a lifetime and enable them to earn and improve their lives. A few years of big time college football & maybe a short NFL career for most of these kids is only fool's gold. Stop being so selfish and think about all these kids that never get a degree and struggle for the rest of their lives.

Since: Sep 20, 2009
Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:20 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Florida State makes more money as a member of the A.C.C.  leaving would be a ill advised move and they know that.The fact is they need the A.C.C. while they may do well as a football school the other sports need the A.C.C. money. To the poster who mentioned Kansas as a basketball independant that is the craziest idea ever!Kansas was very scared last year if Oklahoma, Texas  and others went to the Pac 16 Kansas would have been left with very few options  great program aside there is very little TV  money out there for Kansas and money is the key

Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:58 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Yes, I'm dead serious. Kansas as a basketball independent.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:40 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

The SEC "charter membership" does not date back to 1921.  The SEC formed in 1932, and the charter membership was Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Sewanee.

Since: Jul 5, 2011
Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:37 pm

Think Bigger

Why just stop at some big name schools going independent -- why not bring back the notion behind the original BCS - the CFA.  It would make perfect sense for the nations top programs to completely ditch the NCAA, write their own rules and put together their own, football only association.  I could see the 32 teams in the country forming 4 - 8 team divisions with a playoff to determine the championship.  They could play a 12 game schedule, giving them 7 division games and 5 out of division games per year.

So who would jump in?  Let's start with the media and revenue heavyweights.  Ohio St., Texas, Notre Dame, USC are first in.  So are Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Oregon.  Nebraska and Penn St. are the only other locks for the new football order.  Out of the Big 12 Oklahoma is in.  Auburn for sure from the SEC, and based on tradition and opportunity to get back to a higher level, Tennessee and Georgia are in.  From there, we can let the rest duke it out...but let's finally face it.  Top tier college football has blown by the NCAA.  Let's let the top guys really go at it and dispense with the fantasy of Division I (excuse me, FBS) fairness.  It's not fair, and never will be again, to have MAC or Big East or Conference USA teams competing with the Ohio States and Texases of the world.

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: July 5, 2011 4:50 pm

Declaring some football independents on July 4

OU back in the SEC?  When have they ever been in the SEC? They weren't even a part of the 1921  charter membership which were , , , , , , , , , , , , , and . In 1922, six more universities - , , , , , and joined the conference. Later additions included (1923), (1924), and (1929)." *from wikipedia

I wouldn't mind having OU, Texas, FSU and Georgia Tech in the SEC, but I doubt that will ever happen.

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