Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Our old buddies at BYU were mentioned a lot as a candidate to join the Big 12 during last summer's conference realignment frenzy. But how close did the Cougars actually get to receiving an invite? Pretty darn close, if you believe what BYU blogger "Shoganai" wrote yesterday.
According to Shoganai, BYU- along with TCU and Louisville- had become behind the scenes favorites to become members of an expanded Big 12 as early as May of 2010. That's why, he says, the news of the Frogs moving to the Big East in November of that year was very welcome at BYU- as it would seem to firm up the Big East and leave the Cougars as THE prime candidate to join the Big 12.
Over the next year, he says, BYU had numerous meetings with Big 12 power brokers and that a move started to seem imminent. Things sped up when A&M and then Missouri left the conference, but it was TCU and then West Virginia who swooped in to take those vacancies. To understand it from the BYU perspective, the Frogs and Mountaineers essentially cut them in line.
So why was BYU not chosen, and why are they still not part of the still needing two teams to be accurately-named Big 12? According to Shoganai, it boils down to three reasons:
#1: FOX and ESPN could not reach an agreement on how to integrate BYU's existing TV contract with ESPN into the Big 12 TV contract.
#2: The Big 12 preferred for BYU to join for all sports, but the Cougars had already joined the West Coast Conference for every sport other than football and had made assurances to the WCC that they wouldn't be leaving for at least two years.
#3: The Big 12 and it's TV partners prefer to play some sports- most notably men's and women's basketball, on Sunday afternoons. BYU, along with soda, does not permit its athletes to compete on Sunday.
While the Sunday issue appears to have played a part in the Big 12's decision-making, it's easy to speculate that the same streak of out-dated "morality" may have cost BYU a spot in the now-Pac 12 when Utah was selected to join Colorado as the newest members of that league in the summer of 2010. Utah, after all, was willing to play for the league's TV partners on Sunday- and wasn't backed by a church that used exorbitant amounts of money to tip the scales in the 2008 vote on same-sex marriage in California. That probably didn't play well with the left-leaning university presidents on the west coast, and so the Utes got the place at the big-boy table that BYU thought they deserved for themselves.
But it was BYU's childish reaction to their rivals' good fortune that really damaged their Big 12 candidacy. Instead of continuing to seek a BCS conference spot while a member of the Mountain West, the Cougars decided to publicly act on their butt-hurtedness and struck out as independents. They figured it'd be easier to jump up to the big leagues if they weren't hampered by a conference affiliation, but mostly didn't want Utah to be able to snub their nose at them for still slumming it in the MWC. What it really got them, though, was a slate full of Friday night games on ESPN 2 against mostly WAC teams that ended up making them unable to join the Big 12 even when two slots opened up.
It's impossible to tell how accurate all of this is, and it's certainly possible that BYU will be part of future Big 12 expansion. If I were them, I'd be soiling my magic underwear every time I heard the words "Notre Dame," "Clemson," or "Florida State". We don't know exactly how the future of the conference will shake out- but for now, it appears that BYU's almost Longhorn-level hubris has left them out in the cold.
Posted by Lyle Lanley at Tuesday, June 26, 2012