BYU Football: Is now the time to join a conference?

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Over the past 10 years there has been on looming question for BYU Football.

When BYU Football decided to go Independent in 2011, there were a lot of questions as to what the future held.  Was BYU going Independent the result of a rash decision when it appeared the MWC was about to collapse (Utah State, San Jose State, Nevada, and Boise State had not entered the conference yet).  Was it in hopes of becoming the next Notre Dame?  Or maybe was it in hopes of finding a bigger and better conference in the near future?

Ten years later we still don’t have that answer.

Somehow, ten years later college football looks very similar to how it did back in 2011. A few teams have changed conferences, the kickoff rules have changed and players can now be No. 0, but for the most part, if a common fan watched a game in 2011 and 2021 with the same camera resolution, they may not know which year they were watching.

That is all about to change. My guess is that in 2031, we will have a college football landscape that looks totally different from what we have today. The transfer portal and NIL rule changes are likely going to create an elite group of teams that leaves the rest in the dust.

What that looks like is anyone’s guess, but my guess is that between now and 2025 teams are going to try to make jumps into the “elite group”.

That brings up the question, is it time for BYU Football to make a move? The Cougars fresh off of a 11-1 season and No. 2 overall draft pick in Zach Wilson are an attractive option for a conference, especially if they can put together an eight or nine win season this year.

But where would be a good spot for BYU Football? The answer is unclear, but I’ve got four good options:

  • AAC – What if the AAC becomes the conference of “elite G5’s” including Boise St, San Diego State, BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, UCF, and others? That feels like a conference that would become a default P5 conference, especially if the conference makes the tough decision to drop bottom dweller teams like East Carolina and Temple.
  • Big 12 – Oh our great friend. This one seems dangerous since the SEC seems to be flirting with Oklahoma and Texas, but maybe adding a BYU and three other teams (bring back Nebraska and add UCF and Boise State) makes this conference an elite conference that survives the NIL/Transfer portal changes.
  • Pac 12 – The Pac 12 isn’t going anywhere. USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington are in markets that are too big to be left in the dust. BYU would add a fan base and interest that exceeds Oregon State, Wash St, Colorado, Arizona, Stanford and possibly even Arizona State and Utah.
  • Own Independence – Independence has had its rocky points, but overall it has been pretty great. If BYU Football can keep their contract with ESPN and get good player sponsors like Marriott, NuSkin and other Silicon Slope companies the Cougars could perhaps rise to the “elite status” and remain relevant.

What do you think? Does change need to come?