You've probably heard the news already. Even after the ACC had a second chance to huddle, the league decided not to give BYU the Notre Dame treatment, and count it as a "Power 5" team for out of conference scheduling purposes.
ACC has decided #BYU will not count as non-league Power 5 opponent, sources told @ESPN— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 15, 2014
Now, does this make sense from a football perspective? No, of course not. Under no possible metric is say, Purdue, or Kansas (both technically Power 5 teams) a better game to schedule than BYU. Our own Jason Kirk at SB Nation.com made a very convincing case to this effect, as have multiple people on twitter. After all, somebody should ask Texas (or Georgia Tech) if BYU is a credible opponent or not. In the face of this decision, it is difficult to imagine the SEC will reach a different conclusion.
If this keeps up, John Swofford is setting himself up to be the greatest villain to Mormons since Lilburn Boggs.
Now, like we looked at a few days ago with the SEC, how much does this actually CHANGE things? BYU currently has only three future games scheduled with ACC opponents. A home date against Virginia this season, that won't be changed no matter how many diss tracks the ACC central offices record, and a home and home scheduled for UVA for 2019/2020, where the Cougars head to Charlottesville in 2019, and get a return engagement in 2020.
Is the later series in jeopardy? Potentially, but we won't really know for sure until later. Virginia doesn't have any other games scheduled during either of those years, so at least one of them will need to be against a BCS team. Could they decide to make BYU the marquee OCC game of those years, and schedule a Kansas? Sure. In the next five years, could another Power 5 opportunity present itself that makes more financial sense than BYU, forcing them to reconsider the game? Absolutely. Could UVA struggle to balance a home and home with BYU, a Power 5 team that may also demand a return trip, and enough home games to balance their budget? Sure.
Trying to project with a real degree of certainty that far in the future feels like a fools errand in college football, but it is safe to say that the likelihood of that series being played is at the most charitable, not *more likely* to be played. ACC, and most likely, SEC, teams now have another powerful incentive to not add BYU to their future schedules.
The real concern here, I think, is with something a little less easy to quantify. The fact that BYU is of similar quality to a lot of Power 5 schools, and probably most in the ACC, is essentially impossible to debate for anybody who spent 10 minutes on google. How could the ACC brass reach a different conclusion?
There are a few possibilities. There's always the cynical "they scurrrrred", but that feels unlikely. After all, most ACC schools already schedule at least one Group of 5 team that is at least as good as BYU, if not better. There is the possibility that this move had nothing to do with football and everything to do with TV rights, which might be good for BYU's bottom line, but not good for their on the field product. If you're trying to argue this about religion, well, take your paranoid Mormon Persecution Complex to Sunday School, because that is completely ridiculous.
Most likely, in my opinion though, is that ACC officials simply didn't think about BYU when they made their initial decision, and when forced to re-look at it, were unconvinced by BYU's mountain of wins and accomplishments. How the ACC/SEC treats the profile of BYU may be considered a useful microcosm of how BYU is perceived by the greater power structure of college football, which is to say, not that highly.
For all the talk about #exposure, or #nationalbrand, even after an absolute curb stomping of Texas on national TV that everybody talked about, the reality is, thanks to both demographics and a rapidly changing college football landscape, that proverbial dial hasn't turned nationally. BYU beating the Houstons, the MTSUs, the Boise States, even when those teams are good, and even when those games are on some ESPN Network, does not change folk's perception of BYU, or at least, it hasn't yet. In places outside of BYU's natural footprint, where there are not a lot of Mormons, and where the school has not been on TV for decades, people simply do not care...yet.
That's concerning for a team that finds itself in a precarious position of no man's land, and there isn't an easy remedy. The only real solution, is to win, and win a lot. There is going to be a lot of attention now on the BYU/Virginia game this season, given the tension. BYU HAS to win that game, and really, should win comfortably. If BYU wants people, from the playoff committee to the poll voters to ADs in lands where BYU flags seldom fly, they need to force the issue by winning lots of games, and by beating teams that people care about. A 9-3 season and a forgettable bowl victory over say, East Carolina, or SMU, will probably not be enough to change those perceptions.
Is it unfair? Based on BYU's data, unquestionably, although the culpability of the school in this dilemma cannot be ignored. As doors to Power 5 games continue to close, this may prove to be the most important season for BYU football yet. A quality team with a manageable schedule has to make some serious noise if they want to change perceptions nationally.
The ACC and SEC gave the program a palatable "diss" today. Here is hoping BYU can make them regret it.