BYU fans might be forgiven for being a little bit...touchy lately. There are lots of reasons to be concerned, after all, after the SEC/ACC scheduling issues, and with the foundation of Independence seeming to be shakier than ever. A recent story from Dennis Dodd that had the following scheduling anecdote would do little to mollify concerns. From Dodd:
A school official from one of the 28 members in the ACC and SEC told CBSSports.com last week that he had stopped work on a series with BYU because of the scheduling philosophy.
So if you're in the "All is well in Zion" camp, hey, maybe that's a little bit of a reason to be worried. You know what ISN'T a reason to be worried? Anything that MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said in this article.
If you were on social media last night, or this morning, you've probably seen some of these quotes flying around, about how the MWC needs to evaluate their scheduling relationship with BYU. This quote, in particular, seems to have made the most folks upset. Again, from the Dodd article:
“We’re playing them more out of history, geography and convenience than schedule strength,” Thompson said of BYU. “Now that will bite me in the [backside] but you know what I’m saying. We have a history with them.”
OH NO HE DIDDDDDDDN'T! It's one thing for the ACC or SEC to throw shade at BYU...but the conference of New Mexico and San Jose State? GURRRRRRLLLLLL *snaps fingers*.
Except, this isn't really shade. It's 100% true.
Nobody from the Mountain West, outside of Boise State, has legitimate playoff aspirations in the near future. If they aren't going to a playoff, why would they be concerned about the strength of schedule? If you're San Jose State, or UNLV, or Wyoming, or whatever, your goals are to get to bowl eligibility, and to win your conference. You're not approaching your out of conference scheduling with SOS in mind, it's about budget (guaranteed games, gates for home games) and bowl eligibility.
So that's true. And that Boise team that actually DOES have an incentive to watch their schedule? They have BYU scheduled every single season from now until 2023. It's a great series for both teams (some years, BYU will be the best team to make a trip to Boise). Neither has any incentive to cancel it, and certainly not out of spite from the commissioner's office.
The other Mountain West team that BYU fans would probably care about scheduling is Utah State. SOS probably doesn't enter into the equation, but there are geographical and historical reasons for keeping BYU on the schedule. And lo and behold, they do, every year, from now until 2018. They will probably play after that as well.
BUT PAWWWLL, THOMPSON WANTS TO FREEZE BYU OUT SO THEY HAVE TO COME CRAWLIN BACK TO THE MWC!--The Internet.
Well, there really isn't anything in this article to suggest that. For example, here is Thompson again, on that very subject:
“Secondly, if they were to do that [admit the Cougars] then … that’s a whole bunch more losses for somebody potentially.”
Yup! Forget the logistical problems of running a 13 team conference (or trying to pry UTEP or somebody from CUSA to get to 14). Forget the fact that BYU would be taking a huge paycut to go back to the MWC. Many fans seem to assume that every school would want the Cougars back, but doing so would significantly damage the bowl prospects of lots of conference teams. You think New Mexico, a team that is already struggling to get to six wins in a year, wants to tussle with BYU *every season*?
That giant Secret Combination, er, conspiracy, has a whole lot of unanswered questions. I don't think it's nearly in the most likely scenarios.
Also, Thompson isn't advocating for MWC teams to stop scheduling BYU. Again, from the article. It's near the end, so you might have missed it.
“Because of the regionality and the history, we played them a lot and have played them a lot for 100 years,” Thompson said. “We will continue to play them a lot.”
That doesn't sound like a guy who wants their conference to freeze BYU out. I'm not sure he could do it if he wanted to. BUT LET'S PRETEND, for a second, that he could, and MWC contracts other than Boise State and Utah State were terminated after 2015.
Would you care?
These games have made up a decent chunk of BYU's indie scheduling. Nevada and UNLV are on this year's slate. Next year has San Jose State and Fresno State. Hawaii has been on the schedule before. Would anybody really miss losing these? They don't have a major value for entertainment or SOS, and their main appeal seems to be inventory. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that BYU could replace these, if needed, with AAC, CUSA, MAC or Sun Belt teams, and yes, in the worst case scenario, an FCS team.
Maybe you live in Las Vegas and really want UNLV on the schedule. That's fine. But even in this NIGHTMARE FUEL situation, it changes things for BYU even less than the ACC/SEC slot does, since those games, even if fewer in number, are more important.
So TL;DR, it looks like ol' Thompson was doing a little bit of trolling. That's fine. But don't think too hard that anything he said is a sign for a nefarious plot, or anything to be really concerned about.
I'll tell you when to panic. This isn't one of those times.