Blog Entry

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:55 pm

Maybe it started in 1996. That year BYU went 13-1 in the regular season and was ranked fifth in both polls. In the old Bowl Alliance, there was no room for the Cougars even then in the four big bowls that would become the foundation of the BCS -- Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose.

That year No. 7 Penn State, No. 20 Texas (both Fiesta) and No. 10 Virginia Tech (Sugar) all got into big-time bowls before BYU.

The Cougars settled for the Cotton bowl, beat Kansas State and became the first team in major-college history to win 14 games in a season. That year, BYU finished No. 5. Florida, 12-1, won Steve Spurrier's only national championship.

That perceived injustice would lead WAC commissioner Karl Benson to lobby Congress for his schools' inclusion in the major-bowl postseason. Out of that trip to Washington D.C. eventually evolved the BCS two years later.

Or maybe it was what happened in 1999. That's when the Mountain West formed with BYU as its lead dog.

It certainly had to hit home in the last four seasons when BYU won 11 games three times, 10 games in the other season. And went to the Las Vegas Bowl each time.

It was clear that the last non-BCS school to win a national championship had to try something revolutionary to win another one. That's why it made sense for BYU to go independent in football. Everything else, the shifting of most other sports to the West Coast Conference, is an afterthought.

This was about the long-term viability of BYU football. Why did it take this radical step? Because it could. It had leverage.  Utah has been good since 2004. Boise State has had one of the country's best records since 2000. TCU just played in it first BCS bowl.

BYU has been a national power for decades. It is a true football factory. Used to be Quarterback U. Lavell Edwards, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, all that.  It did win that national championship in '84.

It finally became time to separate itself. ESPN bought in with an eight-year agreement to televise BYU's home games. BYU already has its own network (BYU TV). Now it has its matchmaker. ESPN executive Dave Brown is one of the sport's power brokers when it comes arranging made-for-TV matchups.  That will help a lot when it comes to scheduling games. If that sounds a lot like Notre Dame and NBC, you're right.

"We're going forward with an opportunity to extend our reach, not to play it safe," AD Tom Holmoe said.

 The final straw might have been the Mountain West  "attacking" BYU last week. In an effort to keep the school in the conference (and wreck the WAC), Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson invited Fresno State and Nevada.

Before that, Benson had devised a plan to lure BYU back into the WAC by luring San Diego State, UNLV and Texas El-Paso.

The only "winner" was BYU. Alone. It had a problem with the MWC's relative anonymity. The conference isn't fully affiliated with ESPN. MWC games are shown on Versus and CBS College Sports. The MWC's conference network, The mtn., hasn't turned a profit yet. That BYU signed off on this strategy years ago to keep from having to play mid-week games hardly matters.

The WAC wasn't an option because of questions about its long-term viability after Thompson's Fresno-Nevada raid. If we've learned anything from this Summer of Sleaze it's that the only accountability is to yourself. In addition to the ESPN agreement, BYU also announced a six-game series with Notre Dame.

 "We'll do all we can to assist them in scheduling," ND AD Jack Swarbrick said. :We look forward to playing them."

The way it played out, the MWC and WAC were assured of mutual "destruction." Things broke down when Utah bolted for the Pac-10. That seriously wounded the MWC's chances of getting a temporary automatic BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. BYU knew it.

When the WAC lost Boise State, it tried an end-run to get UNLV and San Diego State, in a bold attempt to lure back BYU. When Thompson got wind of that, he tried to collapse the WAC. Fresno State and Nevada came but the result was a net loss. The MWC lost Utah and BYU. It gained Boise, Nevada and Fresno. That's hardly an even trade in the BCS' eyes. A net loss in BYU's eyes.

So where are we?  The MWC is now closer to the WAC than it is the BCS.  The WAC's best program is Hawaii -- if the Warriors don't go independent -- maybe Louisiana Tech. The glory days of Boise may be in jeopardy playing a tougher MWC schedule in the future. Even with the addition of Boise and the retention of TCU, the MWC lost most of its traction for that BCS bid.

 Halfway through a four-year evaluation process for that bid, the MWC is not certain to meet evaluation threshholds needed for an automatic BCS bid. (1. Average ranking of highest-ranked team in a conference; 2. Average conference rank in BCS; 3. Number of teams in top 25 of final BCS).

It's as if the Cuban Missile Crisis actually became a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. Both conferences are diminished.  There are no winners. The WAC will fill in with I-AA programs, probably from the West Coast if Hawaii stays in the league. The MWC's schedule strength goes down.

BYU determined that it could make more money and perhaps get easier access to the BCS controlling the schedule.  Spreading the Mormon faith via these stand-alone games had to be a factor too. Its BCS access point will suffer (automatic only if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2, "eligible" in top 14). But as I reported earlier, the BCS and BYU have at least had conversations. Don't be surprised if football gets some kind of relief on that issue. As it stands, BYU is in the same BCS boat with Army and Navy.

"Right now the BCS is not the reason we made this move," Holmoe said.

If nothing else, BYU football is going to be a lot richer and a lot more visible. That's not something the MWC and WAC can say.

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: September 2, 2010 6:29 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 26, 2007
Posted on: September 2, 2010 5:29 pm

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Well said.

Since: Mar 4, 2007
Posted on: September 2, 2010 6:45 am

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

NEWS FLASH:   The Rose Bowl was never part of the Bowl Allicance (or Coalition ).Read a little more closely...Dodd never said that the Rose was part of the Bowl Alliance/Coalition.  He mentions the four bowls that would become the foundation of the BCS.  That's why you don't get paid for proofreading.

Since: Sep 2, 2010
Posted on: September 2, 2010 2:13 am

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

To answer your question here are a few of the team BYU has beaten over the last five years.....Oregon St., Oaklahoma, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, UCLA twice including a 59-0 thrashing and don't forget beating Utah 3 of the last 4 years.  Byu is one of only six programs to be in the top 14 final rankings over the last four years.  it is not their fault they haven't been invited to any big dance over the last decade.  Who says they couldn't have a few bcs bowl wins under their belt if it wasn't such a boys club?

Since: Sep 2, 2010
Posted on: September 2, 2010 1:41 am

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Sorry man...You are dead wrong here.  The reason BYU made this move is that they no longer had a partner in the MWC and saw the writing on the wall.  The fact was that while BYU and Utah were bitter rivals on the field, they were allies when came to how they dealt with the MWC.  When Utah left the MWC for the Pac 10/11/12, BYU quickly saw that they no longer had that ally and that the other member schools in the MWC much cared about BYU.  BYU has not been happy with the MWC TV contract from almost the beginning, and in fact after CSTV was sold to Comcast and then the MTN was formed, BYU which had been granted some rebroadcast rights, were taken away.  They basically capitulated and did not push the issue because of their mutually benifical relationship with Utah.  But once Utah left, BYU wanted their grievances heard.  The MWC basically flipped them the bird, then tried to scuttle BYU's plan to go independent. 

You are right that had Utah not left the MWC, that BYU would probably not have pursued this course of action. But the move is much mor pro active rather than reactive.  The fact is is that BYU built up a brand over 30 years of success, with a national championship, A heisman trophy, outland trophies and other awards, including a Doak Walker award.  BYU was the WAC.  BYU made the Holiday Bowl into the biggest non-new years day bowl game.  BYU has many of the highest rated televised games in ESPN's history.  They had a brand, but the MWC TV contract over the past several years, along with the dark years (Crowton), helped to diminish the brand. 

DO you think any other non AQ BCS school could even attempt this?  It is a risk, but it is not because BYU wants to keep up with the Jones'

Since: Mar 17, 2007
Posted on: September 2, 2010 12:01 am

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

This move is all about $$$$.  And BYU just hit the jackpot.  Why is it so hard to realize that the money in college football is in TV ad revenue.  This move is about BYUTV and ESPN.  Why get into a great conference when you can get so much ad revenue instead?  BYU keeps all of the ad revenue from BYUTV (maybe they share some with the visiting team, but it's huge dollars for them) and partnering with ESPN will provide spectacular opportunities to land quality opponents.  This move is a huge win (meaning it brings in huge dollars) for BYU. It's much more profitable than a move to the Pac-10 would have been for them.

Since: Aug 16, 2008
Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:54 pm

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Ok Yeah, thanks BYU and Utah way to destroy a great regional up and coming powerful MWC.  If the moves out of the MWC by Utah and BYU don't happen the MWC is looking at BCS-land an alteration of college football power center.   Now BYU will have the anomisty of of a entire region outside of mormon-nation, and I don't think BYU as indie has as much appeal as ND, therefore the ratings for ESPN will look far weaker than if they stayed in the MWC.  Utah becomes the class of a fading PAC-10 and will challenge for the top-spot.   Money talks, sad.  I for one loved the regional "home team" appeal of the MWC teams, that is now gone...

Here is to crappy 2-10 seasons for BYU and Utah for all their greed...  

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: September 1, 2010 9:54 pm

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Stop trying to e what you are not.  And stop being bitter you didn't have the balls to try to be in Dodd's spot.  The Rose has always been part of the package of the BCS.

Since: Sep 1, 2010
Posted on: September 1, 2010 9:29 pm

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

not til u spell "alliance" correctly

Since: Sep 3, 2007
Posted on: September 1, 2010 9:17 pm

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

ND just scheduled six games with BYU... announced today.

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