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What does Autonomy mean for BYU?

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With more power being handed over to the Power 5 conferences, what impact will be felt by BYU?

Bronco Mendenhall continues to lead the Cougars through Independence.
Bronco Mendenhall continues to lead the Cougars through Independence.
Douglas C. Pizac-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday history was made when the NCAA governing body passed the new autonomy proposal that gives the "haves" in college football, more power.  Essentially what this does is provide the Power 5 conferences even more power to make rules for college football.  With this being the new reality, in theory it still provides any school the opportunity to provide the same benefits to their athletes.  For a great breakdown of this proposal take a look at the article written by Kevin Trahan of SB Nation here.

But what does all this mean to the BYU Cougars and their fans? That is yet to be seen, although we can make some educated guesses.  Keep in mind that this is still a fluid set up and the rules are still being worked out.  The rules will at the earliest take place for the 2015 season so we will know more as proposals are solidified.  Here is what we can gather at this point:

Benefits

Benefits are a big part of this proposal and if the P5 representatives are to be believed, this is the entire reason for the change in power.  Once the details are finalized, the student athlete could see an increase in scholarship money.  Most hope to cover not only tuition, but full housing and other living expenses, better medical coverage, etc.

The length of the scholarship is also a key talking point as they currently must be renewed each year.  Very shortly we may see four-year scholarships that are provided without the need for renewal.  This very well could be a deciding point for recruits as they will not need to worry about losing their scholarship at the whim of a coach or administrator.

Based on the comments from Coach Mendenhall after yesterdays practice, this shouldn't be much of an issue with BYU.  Greg Wrubell, the play-by-play guru for the Cougars, sent this tweet out shortly after practice:

BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe has also mentioned that the school will do whatever it takes to provide for the student athletes based on the options available.  BYU has no intentions of being left behind and may be one of the select few that can follow the proposal without having a seat at the table.

Recruiting

As mentioned before, these changes could provide extra incentives for recruits to choose a school that is following the rules outlined in the proposals.  Although it is naive to think that this won't factor into the decision of recruits targeted by BYU, in reality it will only be a select few.  If BYU is playing by the same rules, nothing will change in regards to the recruit.

Hypothetically, even if the Cougars were unable to provide the same or similar benefits, the majority of players that attend BYU have a specific goal in choosing the school in the first place.  In these cases, the number of recruits swayed would be minimal.  In all, just like the extra benefits rules, this shouldn't have any bearing on who BYU recruits and who chooses to attend BYU.

Scheduling

This is the one area that could legitimately have an impact on the Cougars.  There seems to be a push to have P5 schools only schedule other P5 schools.  I don't foresee this happening, but let's pretend it did.  This would be a blow to Holmoe and the scheduling options provided as an Independent.  This in itself is as clear as mud since the experts can't even agree on what could or would happen.

Many experts believe that BYU should be included in this type of scheduling agreement, while others think they will be left wanting.  If left out the Cougars would struggle to fill their schedule with meaningful games from September through November.    One benefit the Cougars have is a number of currently scheduled games with P5 schools over the next decade.  It is hard to imagine that all these games would be bought out while the P5 schools are trying to fill their schedule with 7-8 home games against each other.  There is a reason the games are being scheduled, the Cougars have a strong following and fill up the seats.  Fans filling the stadiums mean money in the schools pocket, and that is what this is really all about.

Conclusion

From what we know today, it appears that the ruling will have virtually no negative impact on BYU football.  If BYU did not have a lucrative contract with ESPN, or they did not have a self-sustaining athletic problem, it could present a problem.  But the Cougars have both and are not afraid to play with the big boys.

BYU is in the unique position where this proposal could be beneficial to the program, while not being included in the voting body.  Based on the proposal any school can adopt these same rules, and BYU has stated they will within reason, but the majority will be unable to make it work financially.  BYU can and will.  Maybe, just maybe, if the big boys see BYU playing right alongside them, the Cougars will be asked to join them at the table.