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Yesterday morning, I posed five questions we might want to answer relative to BYU's Football independence and non-football sport issues. While some of the questions remain unanswered, and others may be moot, many things were revealed on a day in which we learned that:
Utah State President Stan Albrecht and WAC Commissioner Karl Benson were the prime brokers of BYU's proposed deal to join the WAC in non-football sports.
A deal was in place for the eight WAC schools (minus Boise State) to align with BYU and remain together for five years.
Utah State was offered a chance to break that deal by the Mountain West Conference, which also offered Fresno State and Nevada membership in the MWC.
Utah State held to its deal, while FSU and UNR reneged on their commitment, leaving BYU's planned option in tatters.
What are some of today's relevant questions?
1) Is BYU Football independence still a "horse that has left the barn?"
2) Is BYU's relationship with the Mountain West Conference beyond repair, or are significant MWC concessions to BYU still possible to salvage that relationship?
3) Can the WAC and BYU pull a rabbit out of the hat?
4) Barring a viable WAC rescue option, is the WCC a real consideration for BYU in non-football sports?
1) As I have written earlier, my gut feeling is that the football independence decision has already been made, and that the only issue now is what to do with the non-football sports. The money is there for an independent football program and its distribution, via national, local and school-controlled partners.
2) While the Mountain West acted in self-preservation, the invitation of Utah State, Fresno State and Nevada also served to effectively eliminate BYU's departure option. A BYU departure might have triggered a series of events that could have damaged the MWC beyond repair. Among those events could have been a Boise State decision to remain in the WAC, and potential defections from the MWC to the WAC or other conferences.
Commissioner Craig Thompson felt he had to act to save his league, but by so doing, he led two other schools to in essence "double-cross" BYU.
Then, of course, there is the knowledge that BYU had effectively designed a plan to leave the MWC. The trust factor between BYU and the MWC is all but non-existent.
Based on that current dynamic, and Thompson's public statements claiming concessions are unlikely, I am skeptical that the MWC and its members will bending over backwards to keep a program that clearly is not happy with the status quo. Big 12 members did so for Texas, but the Big 12 was desperate to keep Texas happy. I don't get the same sense from the MWC regarding BYU.
3) Karl Benson is the knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" who keeps on fighting after his limbs get hacked off, one by one. You have to admire Benson's resiliency.
That said, where can he go to shore up his league sufficiently enough to make BYU's inclusion a palatable possibility? Could he and BYU convince any team from the MWC to migrate to the WAC? From CUSA? Can BYU be the "bell cow" that attracts others to Benson's faltering league?
I'm answering a question with more questions, but you have to know Benson (and ostensibly BYU AD Tom Holmoe and Pres. Cecil Samuelson, among others) are burning up the phone lines.
4) The West Coast Conference competes in 11 NCAA-sanctioned sports. The only sports in which BYU competes that the WCC does not are:
Women's Gymnastics (already a non-MWC participant)
Men's and Women's Swimming/Diving
Track and Field
Men's Volleyball (already a non-MWC participant)
BYU would need to find a conference home for only three sports; not an insurmountable obstacle.
With the number of religiously-founded schools in the WCC, the conference would appear to present a philosophical match for BYU. At least a handful of the conference members have had periods of prominence in multiple sports, with Men's Basketball being the most obvious drawing card for a program like BYU (Gonzaga and St. Mary's are annual Big Dance participants or candidates).
In terms of destinations and recruiting bases, the WCC represents areas already familiar to BYU and its coaches/athletes.
The WCC has interest in BYU; it would have to be considered a viable option.
This anticipated news came out of BYU this morning:
BYU, Texas Agree to Home-and-Home Series
PROVO, Utah (Aug. 20, 2010) — Brigham Young University and the University of Texas today announced the two schools have agreed to a home-and-home football series for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Two of college football's most successful programs over the past four seasons, the Cougars and Longhorns are scheduled to meet in 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, and again in 2014 at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
"We are exited to announce this series with Texas," said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe. "We are always looking for opportunities to schedule storied football programs like the Longhorns. I'm really excited for our coaches, our players and the rest of Cougar Nation to have Texas visit LaVell Edwards Stadium."
The addition of the two-game series creates three future matchups between the Cougars and Longhorns. The two schools are already slated to face each other in Austin on Sept. 10, 2011.
BYU and Texas are two of only five programs nationally to win 10 or more games each of the past four seasons. BYU is 43-9 over the last four years while Texas has achieved a 45-8 mark over the same span. Ohio State, Boise State and Virginia Tech are the only other teams with double-digit victories each of the last four seasons.
BYU holds a 2-0 advantage against Texas with wins in 1987 and 1988. The Cougars earned a 22-17 victory in the inaugural meeting in Austin on Sept. 12, 1987. BYU won the last contest on Sept. 8, 1988, earning a 47-6 home victory in Provo under Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards."