From the FanPosts...
VTFers have surely read some commentary from different sources on the big decision. Most people probably have some feelings about the move. I'm curious to get your take on several questions regarding the move.
1) Was the move driven more by access issues or by financial considerations?
2) With Utah gone, what was the likelihood of the MWC getting AQ status had BYU stayed?
3) How difficult will scheduling turn out to be? How will our SOS be affected by independent status?
4) Assuming we can put a decent schedule together, what is the biggest downside to football independence?
5) Does indepence help or hurt our chances of making a BCS bowl?
6) Will we find successful BYU teams left out in the cold come bowl time? Will we negotiate a bowl deal where we can get an automatic invite based on bowl eligibility or some other measure of success?
7) What does BYU do if a Big-12 invite comes within the next couple of years?
I'll leave my thoughts after the jump, but consider the questions before you continue. I'd love to hear what others think.
First, a couple of general comments. I think the jump to independence was our only move, especially after the Fresno and Reno MWC invites and all the BYU-hate that was being spewed by our "friends" in the MWC after the possible move became public knowledge. Independence is unquestionably the financially prudent move. The few who are framing this move as "greedy" are ridiculous. The athletic departments of the MWC cellar dwellers are not the BYU charities of choice. I do think that the BYU fans who don't believe this move was a response to Utah's move are fooling themselves. I would absolutely not have been in favor of a move to independence if Utah is still a MWC member. The fact that BYU was exploring the move for years does not indicate they would have acted had Utah not acted first. No one can blame Utah for moving to the PAC-10 and they have a far less uncertain future in a BCS conference than what faces BYU (for example, it is certain they won't sniff a conference title for a long time). Utah is in a great situation. It was certainly unfortunate for a school like Utah State, but their fate was determined by the actions of FSU and UNR far more than it was determined by BYU. Lastly, the reports of the demise of BYU basketball as a result of this move are greatly exagerrated. The basketball team, like the other teams, will be fine.
Now to the questions...
1) Was the move driven more by access issues or by financial considerations? Obviously, both were significant factors, but when Craig Thompson was asked what were BYU's conditions for staying, his answer was the right to re-broadcast games on KBYU. As a BYU fan living in an area where I could not watch BYU games without changing my cable provider and losing other programming that I valued equally highly, access will be the most significant thing to me. Also, living in a WCC town, access has not just improved on TV for football games. In my case, it has improved for all sports participating in the WCC.
2) With Utah gone, what was the liklihood of the MWC getting AQ status had BYU stayed? It was a great weekend this past weekend for the MWC... FOR THE TEAMS AT THE TOP! Poor UNM! The top few teams were always going to give the MWC some respect and keep it in the AQ discussion, but the bottom teams were always going to keep us on the outside looking in. The good ol' boys club in the BCS are not looking to share the wealth. Adding FSU and UNR made it a certainty we would be left out.
3) How difficult will scheduling turn out to be? How will our SOS be affected by independent status? This is the rub. I think we'll be fine, but it remains to be seen if we can put a quality schedule together, especially during the heart of conference seasons. As difficult as this may turn out to be, we had to step into the darkness, roll the dice, whatever other cliche you like. The reality of not doing so was too unpleasant to not take the risk. As far as strength of schedule goes, I hope we have as our goal, for the first couple of years, to attempt to keep a similar SOS as what we have had in the MWC. We don't need to play a ranked team every week to be relevant. In fact, the quickest way to become irrelevant is to go 3-9 like ND did a few years ago. We wouldn't be treated nearly as kindly as the Irish were in that situation. As time moves on, replace some of the bottom tier teams with more middling teams and SOS will be looking good. I don't buy we are ready for an SEC level schedule.
4) Assuming we can put a decent schedule together, what is the biggest downside to football independence? To me this is easy to answer. Not having a conference title to play for is going to take a little bit of fun out of the games. Each game will not have greater significance than a win or loss. This hasn't seemed to put too much of a damper on the interest ND receives, but I'll miss watching those conference standings.
5) Does indepence help or hurt our chances of making a BCS bowl? Who cares! Anybody reading VTF is passionate about BYU football and we have never been to a BCS bowl. Sure it would be nice for the national exposure and a little respect, but the BCS should have had virtually no impact on the independence decision. Also, it seems the chances are the same as they have always been. No MWC team that has made it to a BCS bowl game, made it because of their conference affiliation. They made it in as an at-large. How has that changed for BYU? Perhaps more TV exposure will actually help. The BCS has always been a little about football and a lot about how to share the money. Independence is certainly going to help BYU receive its share without getting the BCS conferences to agree to share the wealth.
6) Will we find successful BYU teams left out in the cold come bowl time? Will we negotiate a bowl deal where we can get an automatic invite based on bowl eligibility or some other measure of success? Are the bowls still trying to make money and draw decent TV ratings? If that is their goal, they will find a place for BYU. The Cougars are a far better draw than half of the teams that end up going bowling. There is risk that a successful BYU team could be left out, but most years there are spots that conferences can not fill. BYU will be at the top of every one of the lower-tier bowls' wish lists if their conferences tie-ins don't pan out. Is our worry that the bowl we go to won't be as prestigious as the Las Vegas Bowl? Really? Plus, not sharing the bowl payday with a conference is a nice perk. I think the bowl situation will work out find, but Tom... ESPN... you are not done yet. Let's get something worked out to get an automatic invite based on some measure of having a successful season. You would think someone would want a tie-in with BYU over the 4th place team in Conference USA.
7) What does BYU do if a Big-12 invite comes within the next couple of years? I think we would rejoin an AQ conference in the future assuming it is the right situation. If the Big-12 were to come to us with an invite in the next year or 2, I think it would be a no-brainer to join, but we would need to examine a couple of factors before doing so. We would need to be confident that the Big-12 was looking like a stable conference with a bright future. We would also, I think, need to be sure we have treated the WCC fairly. The WCC has given our non-football teams a reasonably soft landing spot. Sure it is not perfect, but we need to make sure the WCC receives a benefit from the relationship with BYU. I think we should be committed to the WCC for at least 5 years. That doesn't mean that the non-WCC sports couldn't join the Big-12 sooner. Football, track, swimming ect could join the Big-12 at any time, but not the other sports. I know that big time college athletics is a cut-throat world, but BYU needs to act with more character than other schools might be willing to act.
The next logical question is, is a Big-12 invite forthcoming? I think that they do not want us, but they are trying to decide if they need us. My worry is that they only need us if they are in trouble. Will Texas, Oklahoma, and A&M all be heading to other conferences? Will Texas and Oklahoma be skimming all the profits off of the top of the conference bank account and leaving just scraps for the rest of the conference? Will Texas, USC, Hawaii and other teams that are discussing it end up going independent, making independent scheduling far easier? I can see a situation where teams like Texas, Oklahoma, A&M and possibly other join other conferences and the left-overs of the Big-12 look to join forces with the upper half of the MWC. Would BYU want to be a part of that conference if it had AQ status? Bottom line is if the Big-12 is extending an invite, we might want to proceed with caution.
It's an interesting time to be a Cougar fan. Let me know your thoughts on football independence.