BYU Breaks its Silence on Conference Realignment
About 10 minutes before BYU vs. Oregon State got started, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe finally broke the school’s silence on expansion.
“We’ve been monitoring the landscape of college football and various conferences for some time now. With TCU joining the Big 12 as the 10th member of the conference, we feel it’s a good time to talk about some of the things we have been through.”
In the process, Holmoe cleared up a few rumors that have been circulating about BYU.
“First of all, a question that has come up is were we invited to the Big 12 Conference. The answer is no, we have not been invited to the Big 12 Conference. Some have stated we have rejected an offer from the Big 12, obviously you cannot reject that offer — that goes without saying.”
One interesting key was when Holmoe said “To this point, TCU has been invited and [BYU] has not.” Its a big step for BYU to admit they were talking to Big 12 officials and that they were speaking with other leagues as well.
When asked if BYU had spoken to the Big East about joining that league, Holmoe issued a more generic response, stating BYU was monitoring the situation and talking to various parties throughout the country.
“I think we will continue to monitor this process. If you look from the time TCU was granted membership, you’ll see that a lot has changed in other conferences. There is a lot going on and we will do our very best to stay involved in the process.”
Finally, Holmoe pointed out that BYU feels it is one of the major players in college football and would continue to work to keep that.
“We are very competitive. BYU has played football for a long time and done very well. We have no intentions of not being with the big boys. We want to play at the highest level and we’ve done that for a long time.”
There are still many questions that need to be resolved. Like whether BYU would replace Missouri if that school does end up bolting for the SEC, or whether BYU considers being part of a BCS conference, ANY BCS conference (i.e. Big East) a step up from independence, or why BYU didn’t receive an offer from the Big 12. But at least its a start.
It seems safe to say that BYU really was the Big 12′s first choice for expansion. Other reports have indicated BYU lost out because of Sunday play and TV rights. Holmoe seemed to take a jab at that, stating something to the effect of, “Everyone knows BYU’s stance on Sunday play. It isn’t an issue.” That remark seemed almost like a silent rebuke to the Big 12′s TV partners (likely Fox) who might’ve objected to the Cougars’ non-Sunday stance.
TCU was the best alternate and once it became apparent it might take some time to iron things out with BYU, they were offered a spot. But with the Big 12 putting the brakes on expansion for 2012, that gives much more time for BYU and the Big 12 to reach some sort of agreement.
Big East Expansion Could Limit Future Possibilities for the Big 12
The Big 12 is in a very awkward situation right now. Aside from BYU, the two leading candidates for a 12-team Big 12 are Louisville and West Virginia. Yet if Internet reports can be believed, Those two schools have agreed to boost the buyout for leaving the Big East from $5 million to $10 million. Unlike when Missouri recused itself while its league voted to add TCU, Louisville and West Virginia reportedly raised their hands when approving new additions.
If all invited schools accept, the new-look Big East would be divided up into two divisions:
West Division: SMU, Houston, Louisville, Cincinnati, Air Force and Boise State.
East Division: Rutgers, Connecticut, West Virginia, Central Florida, South Florida and Navy.
Boise State and Air Force Having Second Thoughts on Big East?
Boise State president Bob Kustra pulled a Tom Holmoe, talking to media about conference realignment around the same time his schools was smashing Colorado State.
Kustra said Boise is not in a hurry to leave the league they begged to join for ten years. Especially since they’ve joined a league before only to watch it disintegrate before they even began competing in it.
“We may not make a move at all. We love the Mountain West. I voted yesterday for this merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West because I sincerely believe it’s the best thing for the Mountain West Conference, of which I am a member.”
However, Kustra did refute MWC commissioner Craig Thompson’s statement that Boise had promised it wasn’t going to leave.
“I also recognize as president of Boise State that I have some responsibility to our fans, to our alumni, to our students, to the community that has built this incredible team, to the coaches, (football) coach (Chris) Petersen … it’s imperative that we give them the opportunity they deserve to build an even stronger program and to get the access they deserve in postseason play. Now the way we’re doing it is incredibly difficult to get that access.”
And Air Force seems to be wavering on the Big East as well after Army said it wasn’t coming and Navy is starting to hesitate.