BYU Considering Football Independence
A cascade of conference realignment and expansion has left Brigham Young University (BYU) in a strange position as its in state rival and Mountain West Conference foe, Utah, left the Cougars behind to join the Pac-10.
Seemingly left out in the cold — without an expected invitation to join another conference — BYU is now reportedly considering taking a completely different step — becoming a football independent.
Early reports told that BYU was looking to the BCS to afford it “Notre Dame” status, relating to the agreement the Irish have with the BCS that guarantees a bid for Notre Dame if they finish in the top eight of the final BCS standings.
More recent reports have told that BYU is interested in the opportunities that being an independent presents, including the ability to mold their own schedule, unbound by conference affiliation, and the ability to keep all of the bowl payout it receives.
The payout for a BCS at-large bid is reportedly six million dollars this season.
The Cougars’ planned independence only is in regards to its football program — the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has reportedly promised BYU a spot in their new look conference for all of their other sports if the Cougars leave the MWC.
BYU’s departure could have long-lasting consequences for the Mountain West.
The BCS will be looking into the automatic qualifying conferences in the coming years to determine if the current six conferences which are considered AQs (ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) are adequately deserving of their relationship with the BCS.
They will also be looking to see if any of the other five FBS conferences should be added to that AQ list. The Mountain West had been in discussion as a possible candidate before the conference realignment began this offseason, but the departure of BYU would only take away from those chances.
BYU, like Notre Dame, has its own television network deal and a religious affiliation to its name.
The current FBS independent schools are Navy, Army and Notre Dame.
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