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BYU independence announcement draws mixed reaction



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PROVO -- BYU announced Tuesday it will have an independent football team next year. Students and fans alike are already armchair quarterbacking on whether it was a good decision to leave the Mountain West Conference.

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At the Lady Cougars' soccer game Tuesday night, the talk was all about the big news of the day.

"I'm really excited about it," said BYU student Natalie Clemens.

"I think it's a big opportunity for BYU," fellow student Nathan Steele said.

The fact that the changes won't be seen until the 2011 season was disappointing to some seniors.

"Definitely mixed feelings; I won't be here when we go independent," Scott Johnson said.

Others vowed to continue attending any and all games -- especially with big-name teams being tossed around both in football and other sports in the West Coast Conference.

"I got friends that go to a lot of those schools, so I can talk trash to them now," Steele said.

"We've always helped the Mountain West, and it's time for us to do it on our own," Clemens said.

Another plus for many is the end of television broadcasts seen strictly on The Mountain -- an arrangement that proved frustrating to some in the past.


We've always helped the Mountain West, and it's time for us to do it on our own.

–Natalie Clemens, BYU student


"I would drive 45 minutes to my grandma's house. Now I can just stay in my apartment," BYU student Michael Thornock said.

Further north, fans at the Skybox Sports Grille in Salt Lake City said they can see the benefits to BYU's decision.

"[It's] probably the best thing for the school, as far as exposure and money," one fan said.

Another said, "I think financially it's going to pay off for them."

Those fans believe BYU will be able to play more nationally-respected teams, but others said this is a huge mistake that could have a drastic effect on future recruiting.

"I think it's going to significantly reduce the non-LDS talent poll that's interested in going there," one man said.

He believes players that were interested in becoming a Cougar will now be more interested in going to the University of Utah, which will join the Pac-10 next year.

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Story compiled with contribuitons from Sarah Dallof and Paul Nelson.

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