Door to the Big East is Wide Open for BYU
First, here’s a shout out to No. 3 ranked BYU men’s cross country team for knocking off No. 8 Portland and claiming the school’s first West Coast Conference championship! Portland had won 32-straight conference crowns before BYU came along. Also, props to the women’s team, who finished second in the conference.
Incidentally, the Big East is enjoying a very successful year in cross country with five teams currently in the top 30.
And that provides a perfect segue to what this article is really about: BYU and conference realignment.
After months (years, really) of being cherry-picked, the Big East finally took action towards expansion, extending full member invites to Central Florida, SMU, and Houston and football-only bids to Boise State, Air Force, and Navy.
Idaho’s board of education is meeting on Thursday, where they’re expected to approve Boise State’s move. SMU, Houston, and UCF are expected to make the jump official as early as Friday.
Air Force and Navy still apparently have some things to work out, including a last-ditch effort to get Army to come along, but both are expected to join the revamped Big East sooner-than-later.
Simple math will tell you the Big East isn’t done expanding. (The Big East has 5, wants 12, and is adding 6. 5 + 6 = 11.)
That 12 spot will be filled by BYU, if the Cougars want it. The Washington Examiner agrees.
“BYU is a strong contender they like Navy, Army and Notre Dame are independents in football setting their own schedule and playing all over the country. However, only Notre Dame enjoys an automatic BCS bid among the “Indies.” So BYU COULD find joining the Big East with an automatic BCS bid in a football only capacity attractive. Plus they could still recruit nationally and would have plenty of national telecasts to advance their brand.
Boise State would like to see them join and the Big East is interested…. what is not known is where BYU stands on joining. They are for the moment listening but silent- there will no doubt be a wait and see process with both sides keeping the lines of communications open.”
As we all know, BYU is the one school in the country that doesn’t leak information. After the WAC debacle of 2010, you can hardly blame them for being cautious, although it is sometimes extremely frustrating for fans.
Rather than debate about whether BYU will or won’t act, let’s assume for a second that BYU does decide to join this new experiment called the Big East and what it could mean for the boys in blue.
Getting to 12
Mountain West bylaws won’t prevent Boise State or Air Force from leaving for the 2012 season, but it could cost quite a chunk of change. That’s $5 million or double the revenue, whichever is greater. If, as expected, Boise State makes it to the BCS this year, they’ll forfeit some $21 million. Ouch! (Incidentally, the exit fees were put in place after BYU, Utah, and TCU all jumped ship. Not that its helping the MWC keep anyone in the league.)
Leaving C-USA will be less expensive, but it will take longer. UCF, SMU, and Houston would pay $500,000 and forfeit about $6 million in TV revenue. And they wouldn’t be able to join until 2013.
BYU, as an independent in football, could move anytime they feel like it. I suppose they could pay themselves an exit fee just to keep up with what everyone else is doing.
Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia are all still technically Big East members. Their 27-month exit agreement means they’d be in the Big East for 2012 and 2013. West Virginia is suing to leave for 2012, but I for one don’t believe that lawsuit has the teeth to go the distance.
In 2012, the Big East could have its current 8 members (Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida, Rutgers, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia) plus BYU, Boise State, Air Force, and Navy.
2013 would be the Big East heyday with the additions of Houston, SMU, and UCF for a total of 15 teams. A massive number of teams in the Big East should be nothing new, just look at the basketball side, but I believe in the end there’ll be some sort of settlement and West Virginia, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh will be gone after the 2012 season.
2014+ would be the “new” Big East with its 12 member, 2-division format. As just mentioned, this will likely happen by 2013.
Big East Title Game
Right now, those fun-loving Internet “sources” everyone loves to quote say the Big East is planning for a 2013 title game in New York City. Sounds cold but could be a lot of fun.
8 League Games Works Best for BYU
Playing 8 league games would allow BYU to play everyone in its division every year, as well as 3 cross-over games from the other division. It would take two years to play everyone in the league, but Since each division really has disparate recruiting areas and nobody is particularly concerned with maintaining traditional rivalries (heck, when was the last time BYU played Rutgers, South Florida or Cincinnati anyway?) that shouldn’t matter.
Plus 8 league games leaves BYU with 4-5 games a year to schedule on its own (depending on whether BYU plays at Hawaii).
As a reminder, here’s what BYU has currently scheduled.
Home: Washington State, Utah State, Hawaii, Weber State, Idaho, Oregon State.
Away: Georgia Tech, Utah, Boise State, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Notre Dame.
2012 is a decent schedule but the biggest problem is once again all the “meat” is in September and October, with November match-ups against lower-tier WAC teams.
If BYU joined the Big East, Boise State would become a league game and they’d have obviously have to do some shuffling, including most likely delaying games against teams it would be fun to eventually play (Georgia Tech and Washington State).
Indy Home: Utah, Georgia Tech, Boise State, Texas.
Indy Away: Notre Dame, Houston, Utah State, Hawaii, Washington State.
Again, 2013 is a good collection of opponents that would currently be rounded out by WAC squads. It’s becoming apparent that as long as BYU is an independent it will have a front-loaded schedule with little of substance at the end of the year.
Indy Home: Houston, Southern Miss, Utah State
Indy Away: Texas, Georgia Tech, Boise State, UCF, Utah
Unannounced location: Hawaii
Indy Home: Boise State, Utah State, Utah
Indy Away: Southern Miss
Make Boise State BYU’s Season Finale
Utah dropped the ball by not pushing their new league to keep the BYU-Utah game at the end of the season where it belongs. It’s time for BYU to foster new rivalries. Keep playing Utah in September, but put the Broncos as the last game of the year and both schools will have something to build for the entire season. Boise State needs a rival and Bronco fans already hate the Cougars so it shouldn’t take much to build an exciting season finale. And this works whether BYU joins the Big East or stays independent.
Big East Basketball in the Marriott Center
Yes, BYU would join the Big East in football-only. But why not ask for at least two games in the Marriott Center every year? BYU is competitive on the court so Big East SOS wouldn’t suffer and it could do wonders for the round ball Cougars. Even if it isn’t a formal requirement, it makes sense that Big East schools would be more willing to play a team their football squads are already squaring off against (especially if BYU is beating up on those football teams. They might want to try for some revenge.)
BYU’s Current TV Deals Might See Minor Impacts
Since the Big East is currently working on a new TV deal, it is reasonable to assume BYU’s TV deals won’t be impacted too seriously. Especially if ESPN ends up partnering with the Big East again.
BYU and the Big 12
The only reason BYU might not want to join the Big East is for a Big 12 invitation. But that league has made it apparent they’re not interested in the Cougars. As someone said the other day, the Big 12 is like the girl that wants to change you. The Big East is like the girl that loves you just the way you are.
And that’s exactly what BYU needs right now.