Loyal Cougars

The sky is still not falling on BYU football

The sky is not falling on BYU football. I repeat, the sky is not falling on BYU football.

Ever since the ACC and SEC announced they were looking at an 8+1 scheduling philosophy and that BYU would not be considered a “Power 5” opponent, the anxiety levels of BYU fans have ranged from nervous to hysterical. In this post I hope to explain why very little has actually changed for BYU and why there is no need to panic.

The Worst Case Scenario (It’s not gonna happen)

The worst case scenario for BYU as an independent would be for the Power 5 conferences to break away from the rest of college football and refuse to play any teams outside of their conferences.

I have good news — the Power 5 breaking away and refusing to schedule BYU and other non-Power-5 schools is not going to happen. Here are several reasons why:

  • Many Power 5 schools rely heavily on the revenues from seven home games per year. Playing only other Power 5 schools would mean they would all have to revert back to 6 home games per season, resulting in a significant revenue loss.
  • Massive TV contracts are already in place. TV is where the a huge portion of the income for these schools comes from. Breaking away and refusing to play non-Power-5 schools would not result in more TV income so there in no incentive on that front.
  • Besides getting more home games, playing three OOC games is a chance for Power 5 schools to get an easy win or two per year. (This part doesn’t help BYU but it does work against a breakaway).
  • Schools and conferences don’t like change for change’s sake. A massive change like breaking away would have to be preceded by a perceived massive problem that needed to be solved. The Power 5 schools are sitting pretty right now and making money hand over fist. They have no reason to fix something that is not broken for them.

The Best Case Scenario (Unlikely to happen)

The vast majority of fans agree that the best case scenario for BYU right now would be to join the Big 12 — either as a full member or as a football-only member. The reality is that BYU getting invited to join the Big 12 is very unlikely in the short term. There is currently little incentive for the Big 12 to invite BYU to join its conference. The main problem is that a BYU addition would not make the Big 12 any more money. A lesser issue is that BYU joining would make the conference boundaries stretch from West Virginia to Utah.

Maybe some time down the road the Big 12 will be forced to add two members and hold a conference championship game or something like that. If that happens, BYU’s odds of joining as a football-only member would increase. But until then, follow the money. The money indicates no invite for BYU to the Big 12 is forthcoming any time soon.

Most Likely Scenario (Hello Indie)

The most likely scenario is BYU remains an independent football team for the foreseeable future.

Scheduling as an independent remains a challenge for BYU, but so far Tom Holmoe and his staff have done an admirable job. Scheduling home and home series with ACC and SEC teams in the future is now a little bit harder, yes, but not massively harder. The rest of the scheduling landscape remains largely unchanged.

The good news is that all of the benefits of being an independent football team with an ESPN contract remain intact too:

  • Tremendous national TV exposure on the ESPN family of networks (with more SportsCenter highlights every year than BYU had in 10 years with the MWC)
  • Excellent television money — especially when compared to the MWC TV money BYU got (to the tune of upwards of as much money per home game as BYU got per year in the MWC)
  • New and intriguing opponents to play every season, both at home and on the road

If BYU can bolster its scheduling agreements with conferences like the Pac 12 and Big 12, the future schedules could be very challenging and exciting. The encouraging news is these schools, especially from the Pac 12, have geographical and other reasons to be willing to continue to schedule BYU (and Pac 12 schools have and are doing so).

As I’ve recently pointed out, a team does not have to be in a Power conference to “relevant” in college football. The real key to relevance is winning. Winning a lot. And being seen by a lot of people when you win helps even more.

In the current college football landscape, BYU as an independent program is not a dead-end proposition. Sure, the landscape could change someday and make independence no longer a viable ongoing option, but that day has not arrived yet.

The sky is still in its place. BYU as an indie football program still works.


  1. Matt

    May 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Sorry, but the worst case is BYU shutting down the football team. The gay marriage issue will become a scarlet letter issue and schools will refuse to schedule games with us because we are “haters.”

    • Geoff Johnston

      May 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Haha. Well if you’re going to bust out of the lines we are working with here, why not go much further and say the worst case is a zombie apocalypse that annihilates all of humanity.

  2. Jason Smith (@byumanutd)

    May 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

    BYU didn’t shut down athletics prior to or soon after the revelation on the priesthood. That issue was even more divisive as it brought many protests, etc. Don’t see why that would happen with the gay marriage issue.

  3. Matt

    May 20, 2014 at 10:33 am

    We didn’t get into the Pac-8 or 10 in the 70’s because of the priesthood issue. Gay marriage wouldn’t be a deal breaker for the Big 12 or any other conference now, but as public opinion has shifted so quickly recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become a deal breaker in the future. And unlike the priesthood issue, I don’t see a change in church policy coming.

  4. Stan

    May 20, 2014 at 10:56 am

    The LDS Church is not the only religion that chooses not to recognize SSM. The Catholic church and the Baptists are not lining up to marry same sex couples. So Baylor, Notre Dame, and Boston College will be in the same boat along with many other religious sponsored Universities

  5. CBT

    May 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Correct. The sky is not falling. But the Earth is moving underneath BYU football, and BYU has no control over those tremors. Could end up with a totally devastated situation as a result of those tremors that BYU has no control over. And that is the problem.

    Yes, they have limited control over smaller things, but those smaller things keep getting made more and more less attractive. Such as zero incentive for SEC/ACC teams to schedule BYU and to come to Provo. As if it wasn’t tough enough as is getting teams to Provo. That is not helping.

    Indy was supposed to be a means to an end, not the end game. Sadly, it keeps looking more and more like it might be the end game, and that is the real problem. It is P5 or bust. Indy might be better than other G5, but it is still stuck in a no man’s land limbo between G5 and P5 right now.

    • Geoff Johnston

      May 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      I just don’t see how BYU would legitimately end up in a “devastated situation” as an independent. The ACC and SEC have already scheduled BYU and there is no indication that will change in the future. The Pac12, Big12, and B1G have all scheduled BYU and there are no indications that will stop.

      You claim indie was supposed to be a means to an end, but that is speculation. I think BYU went into indie willing to make it permanent unless a better option became available. I think that is still the case.

      That’s why slogans like “P5 or Bust” are simply false. BYU as an indie makes plenty of money, has terrific TV coverage (which is significantly better than BYU’s P5 neighbor in SLC) and BYU has recruited well as an indie. Indie works.

      • Bublnet

        May 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

        We should stop calling them P5 but rather PU5, because what they are doing stinks and they know it.

    • Wahului

      May 21, 2014 at 2:09 am

      Why wait for the inevitable? Just go kill yourself now!!

  6. bublnet

    May 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    First thing BYU fans need to do is believe in themselves. Don’t take cues from poor or misinformed reporting or people who have an axe to grind (most hated school for example).

    Second begin talking about the school as it is, National Champions, nations football awards all over the place including the Heisman, the elite leader of the passing game in modern time, LAVELL EDWARDS, alumni as influential college coaches in the NFL and college ranks.

    Third we are as good as Nortre Dame, they had the four Horsemen, we have Gifford Nielson, Jim MacMahon, Steve Young and Ty Detmer (Robbie Bosco, Steve Sarkisian, Marc Wilson, Pete Van Valkenberg). Norte Dame made their name way before the nation caught on fire with college football fever. BYU did it when money and exposure became the driving force behind football.

    And finally, the honor code. Name me one team that could do what the cougars have done with the academic and moral standards ENFORCED at BYU. Here’s the answer, nobody.

    So fans need to stop looking outside for validation and embrace and talk about what is real. When we take ourselves serious and stop this silly self-deprecating behavior, the nation will take us serious too. But as long as they say, “You guys stink.” and we say, “Yes, I guess you’re right.” We will never gain their respect.

    • Wahului

      May 21, 2014 at 2:11 am

      Five Srars to bublnet!!!!