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Many Cougar fans excited about BYU's potential independence

By Sam Penrod | Posted - Aug. 18, 2010 at 9:55 p.m.



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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- Even though it's not official, Cougar fans seem excited for BYU's move to football independence. They believe their fan base across the country will make independence very successful.

While officials at BYU aren't responding yet to the widespread reports, the future of BYU athletics is all students and Cougar fans on campus want to talk about.

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"I think it's a great move," said fan Craig Nelson. "I think it will give them some opportunities they don't currently have in the Mountain West.

If BYU does leave the Mountain West Conference, some fans are concerned about what it would mean to other sports -- primarily basketball.

"As for football, I think it would be great because it gives us the opportunity to get better bowl games, get to play other teams in other conferences," said BYU fan Paul Booren. "But I'm kind of worried when it comes to basketball and other sports like that. I don't know, we'll see."

Reports say BYU would join the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports but football.

Many fans hope that going independent could one day lead to an invitation to join a more prestigious conference, but admit it could be an uphill battle to build a football schedule that will earn respect.

With fans who live all across the country, most believe BYU has an advantage.

"We can play whoever we want and we can go to areas -- for example, I went to the Tulane game last year, and there were more BYU fans there than Tulane fans," said Kyle Ellison, a student at BYU. "So we have that ability to be represented around the country, which is sweet."

What Cougar fans do seem excited about is the prospect of a better option to watch the games on TV -- games that, in the Mountain West Conference, have been difficult to see.

"It's going to put them in a situation where they can actually play on real TV where people can watch it," Nelson said.

Fans do believe that regardless of who is on the schedule to play BYU, team loyalty will always mean the stands here will be filled.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod

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