Thank you Bob Bowlsby for what you did for BYU Sports
Brett Yormark will take over the Big 12 as Bob Bowlsby retires.
BYU Football has been Independent for over a decade which essentially means that every decision was done in their best interest. For example, if BYU wanted to schedule during Covid, they were able to do that without the permission of a conference commissioner who could have a different agenda, unlike a team like Nebraska who wanted to play, but was held back because of Big 10 rules.
When BYU was invited to the Big 12, it was officially announced and given by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Bowlsby had been in the position since 2012, or almost the same amount of time as BYU’s Independent stint. Bowlsby was not considered the strongest leader in the world, often being on a second tier to the SEC and Big 10, but he held the conference together when Oklahoma and Texas ran to the SEC as well as was probably the deciding factor on football being played at all in 2020.
Before Bowlsby’s announcement that the Big 12 would play or cancel due to Covid, the SEC was the only P5 conference wanting to play football. The ACC was waiting for the Big 12 decision before joining in playing as well. Had the Big 12 said no, the ACC would have surely followed and the season likely would have been cancelled. Zach Wilson probably wouldn’t have even gotten drafted, and it’s anyone’s guess how 2021 would have played out.
However, Bowlsby wasn’t without controversy.
Back in 2016, it seemed all but certain that the Big 12 was going to expand from 10 to 12 or 14 teams. At the time there were a lot of candidates including Memphis, BYU, Boise State, UCF, Cincinnati and East Carolina amongst others. These teams travelled to the Big 12 offices and presented their case. Then at the last minute, nothing happened. It gave the conference a bad look and left a bunch of teams feel taken advantage of.
Bowlsby also received a lot of pushback when he claimed that ESPN was working with conferences behind his back to try to destroy the Big 12 and boost the Big 10 and SEC. Whether these claims are true, because we all know ESPN has so much money they could shut down any story, it was still a controversy and ESPN made sure to make Bowlsby look like the bad guy.
In the end however, Bowlsby was the guy who BYU Football needed to get invited to the P5 level. No matter how fans may view Bowlsby he made time for BYU and went against the politically correct decision by inviting a private religious school to the conference.
But the time has come for Bowlsby. Bowlsby doesn’t like where college sports are going with NIL, the transfer portal and TV deals. He felt that he did enough to keep the conference strong and now is his time to go.
So what is next, and what does that mean for BYU Sports?
BYU didn’t sign up to play for the Bob Bowlsby Big 12, they signed up for the Big 12. With new leadership could come big changes. For example, Bowlsby always fought the idea of divisions and has been one of the most vocal about expanding the CFP. Those could all change under Yormark.
Regardless of what happens though, BYU fans should always be grateful for what Bowlsby did to keep the conference going and invite BYU to the table.