It's Official


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After weeks if not months of speculation, Utah is BCS Conference-bound:

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"PAC-10 EXTENDS INVITATION TO THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The Pacific-10 has extended an invitation to the University of Utah to join the Conference. A press conference will take place in the Rice-Eccles Stadium tower at the University of Utah tomorrow at 1 p.m. MT/12 p.m. PT."

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So, the day has arrived. BYU's will be separated from its historical rival by conference, perceived status, national visibility, and cash flow.

It's a day BYU supporters wish would never have arrived, but it's here. BYU will continue to occupy its place among the best schools and athletic programs in the country, but will do so in a way that is deemed by some to be "secondary" to an instate rival that attracts fewer fans, TV viewers and radio listeners, and boasts less national appeal.

From a competitive standpoint, the WAC and then MWC's most athletically consistent and dominant program has been bypassed for a team which boasts considerable recent success (national championship basketball game, two BCS bowl games), but somewhat less of an across-the-board championship pedigree.

At the same time, Utah earned this invitation, and that can't be overlooked. As an institution of higher learning and as an athletic program, Utah was judged to bring significant value to the Pac-10--value worthy of multi-million dollar payouts to the U of U on an annual basis.

BYU supporters are today dealing with some wounded pride; it's understandable. After all, BYU fans believe that their school is a special place, a gleaming top-of-the-line program in every way, and one that has seemingly earned the kinds of attention and appreciation Utah is now receiving.

BYU administrators worked and will continue to work at raising the school's profile and increasing its opportunities for athletic success, but the unique nature of the institution seemingly precludes it from inclusion in a club like the Pac-10. For that uniqueness, neither BYU's supporters nor its representatives should ever feel a need to apologize.

Despite its claims that expansion is not up for discussion, the Big 12 now has a less time-sensitive opportunity to evaluate BYU as a potential addition. Unlike the Pac-10, the Big 12 appears to be more "culturally hospitable," although its Sunday-play schedule would require some tweaking. Only time will tell if BYU will one day experience the satisfaction of knowing that a major conference decided to validate the Cougars' body of work with a platform to match.

Until such a time, BYU will continue to serve as a pillar for the MWC, for whom it has been a sturdy foundation and worthy flag-bearer. You know the old saying, "Whate'er thou art, act well thy part." BYU will continue to excel in its current home, and allow any future expansion chips to fall where they may.

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