At his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed the school has been contacted by the Big East conference about the possibility of joining its ranks.
“There is a push and there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference,” Mendenhall said. “I trust our athletic director (Tom Holmoe) and president (Cecil) Samuelson to deal with all of that. I have been informed along the way. At some point there will be a decision with what our intentions will be. I don’t know how fast nor do I think a time frame is relevant at this point.”
Mendenhall’s statement confirms last week’s Denver Post report that claimed the conference had contacted the Provo-based school about becoming a member.
In a college football environment that forebodes the formation of mega conferences in its near future, there appears to be a jockeying for position by conferences to secure their involvement in the current Bowl Championship Series structure.
“With the landscape changing, the main benefit I can see on a short-term scale would be inclusion to the BCS system,” Mendenhall said of the possibility of joining the Big East.
The Big East’s contract with the BCS is up in 2013, so it appears the league is attempting to secure its contract renewal as an automatic qualifying conference by attempting to add more schools.
With BYU nine games into its initial season of independence, one has to wonder if joining the Big East is really that beneficial to its football program.
That would depend on the school’s overall football objective. If money is the driving force – let’s be honest, it would appear that it is – then joining the Big East would prove to be a fiscally sound move.
However, BYU has proven itself to be an institution that marches to the beat of a different drummer, espousing principles – and sticking to them – that, by all indications, has shown that it is motivated by objectives that differ from most schools.
While BYU football leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to on-field talent when compared to other big-time programs, it is consistently competitive at the FBS level. Enough to at least be included in the discussion for inclusion in the current BCS bowl system.
As a member of the Mountain West Conference, and even in its current independent role, BYU has never seriously had a chance at qualifying for a BCS bowl. Membership in the Big East, or any other BCS conference, could change that.
Remaining an independent would also prove to be a smart move. A multi-year contract with the ESPN Family of Networks and matchups with some of the nation’s more storied programs over the next few years will do a lot in gaining BYU national exposure. An eventual invitation to join a more reputable conference than the Big East, such as the Big 12, could also come as a result of remaining an independent.
If it were my call to make, I’d pass on the Big East, remain an independent and hope for a better offer down the road. While there may be strength in numbers, there is something to be said about going it on your own.
Like Jack Shephard told the marooned survivors of Oceanic Flight 815: live alone, die together. Or something like that.