Independence has been an interesting road for BYU. The common thread amongst many national media members when they read the news of BYU opting for football independence instead of the security of a conference was shocking to many. The common sense was that BYU needed to make independence a short-term fix to get to a BCS conference. Now in year three of blazing their own trail the Cougars are proving the doubters wrong.
Can independence survive going forward into the college football playoff era? That’s the question many ask when discussing BYU and realignment. Because another wave of realignment is coming, it’s not a matter of if, but simply when. Where does BYU fit in the picture?
In terms of positioning themselves at the “big 5” table, BYU has done nothing but help themselves. Folks are amazed at the schedules BYU is putting together, and the BYUtv angle continues to see unprecedented success. 60 million homes can watch BYUtv, and anyone with an internet device can watch BYUtv programming live. It’s taken 20+ years to build BYU Broadcasting up, but now they are in a golden era with delivering content to fans and viewers. But is this enough? Is there going to be a point where being on ESPN every week and BYUtv aren’t enough to make BYU administration happy? Will there be a breaking point where the powers that be force BYU’s hand and they cave to the man and go to a conference? That is if they are invited by any.
BYU is hosting #15 Texas this week. This is by far the biggest game the Cougars have had in Provo since being a football independent. Would you want to see this matchup every other year, in the Big 12? It sounds really nice on the surface hosting one of college football’s best programs on a regular basis, but wouldn’t the novelty wear off? Seeing Texas in Provo for the first time in 25 years makes this Saturday more special than if it was a 0-1 BYU team facing conference foe Texas.
Yes, the Big 12 would give BYU more guarantees, more assurances, and ultimately better access to a national title. Which is something the program has coveted for years. But BYU enjoys independence and doing things their own way. And honestly, a few years from now I think people will back off the stance that they want BYU in the Big 12. The Big 12 has been on life support in the past, expect to see that talk again. Oklahoma is going to the Big Ten eventually. It’s bound to happen, and the Sooners will take Oklahoma State with them. Would a Big XII without Oklahoma be that much more exciting over the national schedules BYU is playing now? Do folks really need to hear their players receive all-conference press clippings? I sure don’t.
BYU is in a better position today than they were in the summer of 2010. Maybe that position hasn’t improved on the football field, but it has definitely taken significant strides in the right direction on the realignment surface.
I’m optimistic about BYU’s future and access with the new playoff system. Will it be ideal? No. But it’s the best they’ve seen since the 80’s, when of course a National Championship was won.
Patience is the key right now. BYU’s future is bright and independence is working. BYU simply doesn’t need the Big XII right now and need people to acknowledge that. There’s nothing the Big XII can offer that BYU can’t get right now. Well, maybe a slot as a 6-6 team in the Alamo Bowl. Woo-hoo! It’s playoff or bust folks, and as an independent BYU can get there.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a schedule filled with novelty rather than annual pitstops in Waco, Ames, Manhattan (KS), and Lubbock. You think Provo is dry? Don’t get me started on Lubbock. Give me trips to Madison, Austin, Lincoln, Ann Arbor, Washington DC, Charlottesville, Oxford, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and others any day over the monotony of a conference. Fans should enjoy independence. Just don’t enjoy the play on the field, but the schedule on paper. Love it!
Now that I’m off that positive soapbox on BYU football (hard to come by these days), let me go commiserate about the current state of the Cougar offensive line some more.