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PROVO — With the four NCAA football playoff teams announced today, there was a noticeable lack of a Big 12 team. Being kept out of the playoffs has immediately set off talks about expansion for the conference. Here are four reasons BYU is a good option for the Big 12.
Adding BYU (and another team) will make it so the Big 12 will need a championship game
Make no bones about it, the Big 12 not having a conference championship game hurt it when it came to the playoffs. After last week’s games, TCU was slotted as the No. 3 team in the playoffs. Though TCU won in a complete blowout against Iowa State this week, the Horned Frogs were bounced out of the playoffs. Fellow conference member Baylor also did not make the cut despite beating No. 9 Kansas State this week. While the conference got cute and tried to announce Baylor and TCU as co-conference champions (despite Baylor beating TCU) to better bolster their odds of getting an invite to the playoffs, the ploy did not have the desired effect on the selection committee. After today’s announcement, it is clear that the Big 12 needs to expand by two teams to have a conference championship. BYU should be one of them.
After Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac-12, the conference lost all of its market in the Mountain West. In this regard, BYU can help as the Cougars have thousands of viewers in the whole state of Utah and many in the surrounding states as well. Bringing the Salt Lake City market would be especially beneficial to the Big 12 should it choose to let BYU enter the fold.
National fan base
BYU is a unique school in terms of its national fan base. The school boasts a large enrollment and is host to thousands of students from outside of Utah and even the country. Also unique to the school is its connection to the LDS Church. This connection has made BYU’s sporting teams the favorite of numberless LDS families across the nation. With a national fan base, the school has historically traveled well and will bring that to the table.
The team has been competitive against Power 5 teams
Bronco Mendenhall has been competitive in his 10 years against Power 5 teams.
In 35 games against Power 5 teams, Mendenhall has a 17-18 record. While this number is far from dominant, it is evidence that the Cougars can at least hold their own against teams from big conferences. Given time, with better athletes and depth, the Cougars may start competing for conference champions but at least will not be anemic in the meantime.
The school boasts other successful programs
While football is the money-maker and the sport that the Big 12 is going to care the most about, it is important to note that the school also has other solid men’s and women’s programs. Of particular interest will be men’s basketball. Since taking over the basketball team in 2005, coach Dave Rose has a terrific 232-78 record as the Cougar hoopsters have regularly appeared in the NCAA tournament. With BYU, the Big 12 would not only be getting a football team with a history of winning, it would also add good competition to the rest of its sports.