Sources are now confirming what Craig Thompson and the entire MWC have been fearing since Utah left for the Pac-10: BYU is pulling a Sarah Palin and “going rogue.” It seems the only thing in the way now is the pending approval of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who owns Brigham Young University. In a nutshell, here’s what this means: BYU will be a football independent but will play all other sports in the Western Athletic Conference, a conference they dominated for a good part of 40 years. What does the move mean for the college sports landscape? That’s a different story altogether.
First off, the MWC is done. I could have told you that when Craig Thompson made the most ridiculous TV deal ever with what has turned into the most ridiculous sports televisions channel ever. The Mountain is a total flop. To compare, I heard MWC teams got just under $2 million from their TV deal last year. In contrast, Big Ten teams made somewhere in the $20 million range for their deal. Screwed? Yeah, that was a move that made about as much sense as locking a kid with a concussion in a closet.
So it’s no surprise Utah moved to the Pac-12 for greener pastures (ie: better TV deal) and now BYU, who already has its own worldwide network, BYU-TV. I’ve actually been to campus recently and teh BYU-TV building next to the Marriott Center is pretty impressive. It will be outfitted for HDTV as well, and they will have in just one truck all they need for a full HD broadcast. With one of the largest nationwide followings of any program, this puts BYU in a good place. Kind of like Texas who is now pursuing their own TV network. It just makes “cents” if you catch my drift.
Now we have two questions- how does this impact college sports and how does it impact BYU? First, the MWC is definitely finished. They already approached Fresno State and Nevada (something I said they should have done the second Utah left) but got turned down. The WAC made a great contingency plan in requiring all remaining members to sign a blood pact…or in other words, a $5 million penalty for leaving the conference in the next 5 years. So of course the MWC was turned down as they will be by any WAC school at this point. So will Boise State even stick around? The MWC is nothing without Utah and BYU, so chances are they will pull out and jump back into the WAC. So what does that leave? A 7 team conference, one that cannot legally play in the FBS. So either SDSU, UNLV and New Mexico are headed to the WAC and the others elsewhere, or C-USA is getting raided. Good luck convincing anyone to join your pathetic 7-team conference Craig Thompson.
As for BYU, this is a great move for them. They will be the Notre Dame of the West. They travel well and fill stadiums. They have name recognition. They will be able to play in great places. I would say Utah and Utah State will be consistently on the schedule. The other independents all play each other too, so chances are good that eventually BYU will jump into that circle, so throw Notre Dame, Army and Navy into the mix. UNLV is like a home away from home for BYU, so you better believe they will play them each year too. That’s 6 regulars on the schedule. Throw in some WAC teams like Hawaii (which means a lucrative 13th game every other year), Nevada and New Mexico State for some easy wins. That’s 9 teams. The other teams will be mid to top BCS people. I would say a game like Oklahoma or USC every year would be great. Throw in a couple mid Pac-12 teams with Utah like Colorado or an Arizona or Washington school, then a Big XII or Big Ten team, and you’ve got a great schedule.
I see this only ending well for BYU but not for the MWC. My prediction? The WAC will expand to take back Boise State (9), then add UNLV (10), SDSU (11) and New Mexico (12). That’s not a bad basketball conference. Plus you have BYU in all sports except football. The WAC could be somewhat legit. As for Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force and TCU, who knows. TCU will likely try for the Big XII. Air Force will go independent. Wyoming and Colorado State will try to go anywhere that will take them. Who knows, this will be interesting to see how it all plays out though.
What do you think will happen?