should I go? If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double.”
The popular Clash classic has been in my mind today as what might be dubbed the theme song of the BYU/MWC/WAC/WCC/INDY love triangle pentagon. After yesterday’s flurry of tweets, backdoor deals, and hurried press conferences, the front today has become eerily quiet, and all ears are listening in the direction of BYU for any sign of where the next volley will come from.
While we wait, let’s entertain the possibilities here, and weigh the potential outcomes.
Should I Stay?
The addition of Nevada and Fresno St. make staying in the Mountain West a bit more appealing. They should help to bolster the middle tier of the conference. Certainly in recent years they have been able to gain some notable victories while remaining in the shadow of Boise St. Life will be harder for both teams new to the MWC, but they are good middleweight schools.
During the Mountain West’s trial period for BCS AQ status (having now completed 2 of 4 years), preliminary results have shown favorable numbers in each area except for top-to-bottom conference performance. The conference obviously has a formidable top tier, but the bottom of the conference shows very little life. If two or three teams from the bottom tier of the conference were to fill the vacancies in the WAC, it should be enough to solidify the MWC’s bid to become an AQ qualifying conference in two years.
Whether that happens or not, I would be excited to see BYU stay in the MWC because of the new challenges brought by Nevada and Fresno St. Add another quality team, like Houston, and you could have a conference championship, with BYU, BSU, TCU, and Houston battling it out every year? That’s some exiting football to watch.
Or Should I Go?
On the other hand, perhaps Notre Dame will one day be called the BYU of the East (sorry, I had to)! BYU could go independent. While the WAC has now become a much less attractive host for BYU’s non-football sports (with the loss of Nevada and Fresno St.), BYU could still strike a deal with the WCC (which doesn’t have football), or maybe even strike a deal to leave their other sports with the MWC.
If BYU does go independent in football, they will have control of their own destiny, for better or worse. They would likely have a rough time scheduling for the first several seasons until they have built up some more relationships/interest from other programs. I do believe the independent move would save the Holy War, as BYU could be free to include Utah year in and year out without a problem. BYU can also get off of the Mtn. network, being able to strike a deal with ESPN and airing the rest of their games on BYUtv. The positives here are that BYU won’t have to share any of that revenue.
BYU would also need to create a partnership with a bowl game in order to assure themselves a good home for December/January. Worst case scenario I could see the Las Vegas Bowl wooing BYU (they’ve practically got the spot already), but as has been pointed out, the Big-12 has 8 bowl commitments, and only 10 teams, so a bowl that is now set up with the Big-12 may jump at the chance to guarantee a team like BYU, that travels very well. BYU does have a good history with the Holiday Bowl.
If BYU does choose independence, I see them playing Utah and Utah St, perhaps starting up a series with Notre Dame, Navy, and Army, and perhaps continuing to play a few teams from the MWC. Throw in a couple from the Pac-10 and Big-12, and you should end up with a pretty decent schedule. It would seem that independence will bring some exciting football into Lavell Edwards Stadium.
So what should BYU do? Having looked at these two options, I find both intriguing. Staying is safer, and more interesting now than it was two days ago; leaving however, is also exciting, albeit more risky. Rest assured that the officials at BYU are thinking about all of this, and won’t make the decision lightly. Whether it’s the right decision or not? Only time will tell.