The Big 10 (really 11, but who's counting?) came out with word recently that they're seriously looking into expanding the league to 12 teams, even as soon as 2011. And while we think about the prospects, let me put a quick end to the excitement you're feeling on behalf of Bronco and Co.: BYU would not be invited to join that league, the Big 12 or the Pac-10 as a result of the Big 10 expanding. However, that doesn't mean the Cougars won't be seriously affected by what may happen after next season. Here's why 1) BYU won't be invited, and 2) why they may be feeling the brunt of such actions by the already big Big 10.
Before I examine the reasons of leaving BYU out, here's what the expected plan is: when the Big 10 (11) expands to 12, Missouri jumps ship and joins the Big 10, or Notre Dame flees its independent status and joins. The latter is less likely as Notre Dame enjoys being able to play anybody, at any time of the season, and not splitting any possible earnings. A "conference" schedule's not really their style.
As for BYU...
1. As an avid college football fan, and obvious BYU fan, I'd love nothing more than to see some of the Baylor's, Arkansas's, and Colorado's, be relegated to mid-major status, and have BYU (or other "worthy" teams) take their place much like what happens in England's Premier League (yes, that's a soccer reference). Without question there are few teams in the power conferences that should be demoted (Baylor, Colorado and Texas Tech, first and foremost).
Unfortunately, relegating these teams, or expanding conferences, doesn't open the door for BYU to join them; TCU and Utah? Perhaps, but not BYU. Though the Cougars have tradition, high-powered offenses and a national following, they're still the odd man out in these scenarios. Why? For starters, they can't compete on a national recruiting stage with Utah or TCU, not to mention Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio St., etc. I know they get the likes of Jake Heaps, Kyle Van Noy, Zac Stout and others, absolutely terrific talent, but they're more scheme players (maybe with the exception of Heaps) than superior athletes with speed and strength. As long as the program focuses their attention on players who will live by the Honor Code (which I whole-heartedly support and agree with), they will be left with mostly second-tier talent.
As for Utah and TCU...
TCU absolutely makes the most sense of joining a BCS conference when you consider recruiting demographic, geographic positioning and natural rivalries (Texas, Oklahoma, etc.). They've been one of the most consistent (and winning) teams over the last decade, and with this year's success, they're a very sexy pick to join. The only thing that may hold them back is a very fickle fan base and a terrible basketball program.
Next up, after TCU, would have to be Utah. With their success in 2004 and 2008, great recruiting channels, a known basketball program, and a very zealous fan base, they've got all the ingredients to make an impact and land the coveted spot. The only thing holding them back might be their lack of sustained success/history, and the fact they play in Utah (it's kinda out of the way...just sayin').
In any event, with either of those teams leaving the MWC, BYU suffers big time. All of the sudden the MWC becomes an average league at best. The best hope is to expand the MWC very, very soon by adding Boise St., Houston, Tulsa, Nevada, and Fresno St., and dump a couple cellar-dwellers, and then get an automatic BCS bid (by addition or elimination). If the MWC were to obtain such a bid, TCU, Utah nor BYU would have any inclination to leave the conference for greener pastures because they'd be feeding where the cows are fat and happy, and this whole argument becomes unimportant, much like the climate talks in Copenhagen.
What's the best scenario for BYU?
Big 12 adds the Cougars after Missouri bails for the Big 10 (12) (23 votes)
TCU or Utah get the nod to the Big12 and BYU's the big fish in a little pond (41 votes)
The MWC becomes an auto-BCS conference (184 votes)
248 total votes