Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Movement

We all may have thought that the shakeup regarding conference movement in college football was over, and it was ... for awhile. I blogged awhile back about the Pac-10 expansion and everything that involved the University of Texas. Well, there is some news rising that has similarities involved with it.

The Pac-10 conference started all of this expansion drama. They initially wanted the University of Texas to bring five schools with it to the conference but the Longhorns decided to keep the Big XII intact and they even got their own TV rights which was a huge part of them staying put rather than leaving for the Pac-10. The Big XII now only has ten teams as Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10. The Mountain West Conference lost the University of Utah to the Pac-10 also. In doing so they replaced Utah's membership with Boise State moving from the WAC to the MWC. That's where everything left off.

Earlier this week there was word that Brigham Young University, the rival to Utah was going to leave the Mountain West Conference and become a football Independent with their other sports re-joining the WAC. A conference they were a part of for years. A conference they also willingly left to be a major part in creating the Mountain West in 1998 when the WAC split in half and eight schools formed the new Mountain West while the other eight remained. Why would BYU do this? Well, they aren't happy with the amount of exposure the Mountain West gives them on their TV network entitled The MTN. Almost nobody outside of the conference knows about that station and BYU has had enough with trying to gain national credibility and being a part of it. Brigham Young has their own television network that is titled BYU-TV. Tom Holmoe, BYU's athletic director has informed us that they have finished building a broadcasting facility that is state of the art. He says there's nothing like it west of the Mississippi. BYU leaving the MWC for Independence would allow them to broadcast their games on BYU-TV which is a regular station on all major cable providers. This new facility would allow them to broadcast in HD. Holmoe has also been talking to ESPN and they would broadcast some of BYU's games as well. With the TV contract with ESPN BYU believes they would have better scheduling for their football program. National television is imperative to exposure in college football.

Hearing the news of BYU's plans, Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson went into panic mode and extended invitations to Fresno State University and The University of Nevada-Reno to join the conference. Thompson stated not too long ago that there were no more intentions of expansion after the addition of Boise State. This is bad for BYU because that leaves the WAC with six schools. Not allowing them to have enough schools to compete, including BYU's non football sports. It seems that Thompson is just angry with Brigham Young and is trying all he can to intimidate them to remain in the Mountain West as nothing has yet been official.

So while the WAC explores their options to remain a conference, BYU is also weighing their options for plan B. That plan? To join the West Coast Conference for every sport except football. This would still allow their football program to be Independent. BYU being a private religious school would fit in well in the WCC as every other school is as well. However, if the WAC is able to replace Boise St., Fresno St., and Nevada the WAC may still be an option for the Cougars. It seems that regardless, BYU football will be independent and like the Texas Longhorns, will have their games broadcasted on their own TV network.

Lou Holtz, a member of ESPN's College Football Live team stated yesterday that two years from now Brigham Young would be a member of the Pac-10 conference or the Big XII. Since losing Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten, the Big XII conference has said it intends on remaining a ten team league. To some that doesn't seem like it will last long. Before that statement was made, there was talk that BYU and fellow member of the Mountain West the Air Force Academy were the two schools to replace Nebraska and Colorado. For now, that isn't so and for Brigham Young, anything but the Mountain West is what they seek. Perhaps they're competing with their bitter arch rival Utah as they'll get national exposure being in the soon to be renamed Pac-12. Perhaps they aren't. All I know, is I like this move for Bronco Mendenhall's football program. Their scheduling abilities will be much better than they were in the MWC. There will be national exposure for them which is a priority for the school. As a private school owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, exposure is very important to them. Not so much the money that comes along with these moves, although it is apparent that money is a factor.

Bronco Mendenhall has led his Brigham Young Cougars to 10 or more wins the last four seasons. They are one of five schools to do that with the others being Boise State, Texas, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. There's been some more recent news about the University of Hawaii having their football program go independent with the rest of their athletics playing in the WCC. Another WAC school gone. Again not looking good for the Cougars like they'd hoped. We will just have to wait and see what happens with everything as this scramble with the WAC and Mountain West unfolds.

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