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Sprints Is Trying to Figure Out Why BYU Is Considering Independence // 08.23.10

10 Days to Football Season

Again, SEC-specific stuff is down a ways; see Gary Patterson's comments if you think this won't affect everyone eventually. Besides, when one of the big "news" items is Houston Nutt saying he'll use two quarterbacks, it's been a slow weekend.


The Moutain West and C-USA aren't merging ... unless they are
A meeting Thursday between Craig Thompson of the MWC and his C-USA counterpart apparently had some people thinking "merger." Nothing could be further from the truth, only it sort of is true if you read between the lines.

Thompson said the leagues are not planning to merge, nor are they going to stage a game between their champions that would award the winner a spot in a BCS bowl -- though the latter idea was broached at the meeting.

So the two would have a championship game, like a conference, which could influence bowl bids, like a conference, but would TOTALLY NOT be a conference. Sure.

Actually, I think the idea has some merit, but not if it's just the Mountain West and C-USA. If the two highest ranked mid-majors stage a "play-in" game for the BCS, that could eliminate the possibility of a repeat of last year's Fiesta Bowl. The only question would be -- what if we had another year like last year, where both teams arguably deserved to be in a BCS bowl to begin with?

There are a lot of reasons why this is wrong
For one thing, I don't think that the BCS dreams of the Mountain West are dead, and the additions of Fresno State and Nevada actually help the auto-bid initiative. But, apparently the folks in the know are backing up parts of the idea.

Two days ago, when the MWC was being read its last rites due to the departure of BYU (and potentially other teams to the WAC), I threw out my idea for a new 10-team conference on Twitter including Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, TCU, UTEP, Memphis, Tulsa, Houston, SMU and Southern Miss. When I checked with a source today who is plugged in to the conference discussions, I was told I was on the right track, that there were forces working for a MWC/C-USA combo conference that would stop short of a full-blown merger.

If you go along with the idea that anyone wants to get to AQ status at some point, this league is about the worst possible way to do that. I can't believe that TCU, Houston and Southern Miss even get you as close as the current Mountain West does. And as the post itself points out, this would be almost impossible to accomplish. Once the C-USA comes unwound, the Big East will get all the teams worth having.

Or, consider this: several months ago, the Big XII and the Pac-10 met to discuss a non-merger agreement for scheduling and television purposes. Within weeks, Larry Scott had proposed the Pac-16.

Gary Patterson says it's not over
How much the TCU coach really knows is open to debate -- but he seems to think he knows more than reporters.

"All I can tell you is this: Just wait and see in the next two weeks before you make any judgments and see what happens in the national landscape," Patterson said. "Things that I know that maybe you don't know. That's all I'm going to tell you."

Now, his comments were made before or around the same time that the Fresno State and Nevada defections were announced, so he could be referring to that. Or the Mountain West could have other plans in the works.

But note what he said: "What happens in the national landscape."

Utah State: Against joining the Mountain West before they were for it
The best chance might have passed the Aggies by, but they haven't given up hope on getting off the U.S.S. WAC before it goes under.

A source familiar with the situation told The Tribune on Friday night that USU is attempting to negotiate an invite from the Mountain West Conference just days after declining an invite when it was thought that BYU was all set to join the WAC. ...

"We’re looking at every option," Barnes said minutes after the Utah State football team finished up its second scrimmage of fall camp.

If only Utah State had decided they were open to every option, say, a week ago. The only way BYU will go independent now is if the administration and the entire LDS leadership has gone clinically insane. And if BYU stays and Houston or Southern Methodist is willing to join the Mountain West, Utah State will be left out.

Why BYU independence would be crazy
The Salt Lake Tribune takes a break from being one of the biggest cheerleaders for independence to deliver a reality check: the scheduling is difficult, the money might be better, and a few years later, "another trip to Las Vegas wouldn’t seem so bad."

Hawaii could also go independent
How are they going to do it? By becoming a one-team Sun Belt Conference.

Another reason the move to independent status in football makes sense for Hawaii: The program could schedule enough guarantee games -- road games against BCS heavyweights with significant payouts from $750,000 to $1 million-plus -- on ESPN to make it work.

The challenge would be home games. With the exception of Southern Cal and Alabama, teams haven't exactly shown an eagerness to go to the islands during the season. (Generally, the BCS teams will go out there for the first or last game of the year to keep their schedules intact.) But when the alternative is a dying WAC, it's not exactly a difficult decision to make.

Meanwhile, the WAC's drive to add Montana might require adding Montana State. That'll happen. (HT:

Why the WAC is imploding
What's happening in the WAC are that the dominoes are falling in a completely foreseeable way. Why?

When Fresno State and Nevada jumped to the Mountain West Conference, the 5 million dollar agreement between the WAC schools all went null and void.[para] Knowing that, I asked Benson what's stopping his other schools from leaving in the very near future.

"Nothing", was the response.

Part of this is common sense; no one is going to sign onto a deal that requires them to pay $5 million to bolt a conference which has Hawaii as its marquee member. But that's why the Fresno State and Nevada decision was likely the final straw for the conference. (HT:

Good luck completing a schedule
BYU had actually gone so far with the WAC / independence route that it decided to draw up a 2011 schedule that included six games against the WAC. Among the teams: Fresno State and Nevada -- who are now headed for the MWC, though perhaps for the 2012 season -- Utah State,which is trying to get into the Mountain West, and Hawaii, which is (bizarrely) considering its own independence. So three of those teams -- Hawaii, San Jose State and New Mexico State -- might be the only ones available by the time this is done, and only two of them would actually be in the WAC.

If Nevada and Fresno aren't available, let me sum up the way BYU's schedule would stack up to BCS contenders, even with Texas and Oregon State, unless they got some much better options for the other seven games. Ha. Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

The only thing that really makes sense for either of them
The most notable part of Schad's story on the MWC-CUSA meeting has more to do with BYU than the meeting itself.

Thompson said the MWC has "shown a willingness to work through some TV issues" in an effort to prevent BYU from declaring its independence.

Make no mistake: If ESPN actually has a deal of some sort with BYU, then the WWL has also been outmaneuvered. ESPN isn't willing to pay $4 million a year for games with Utah, a BCS school, New Mexico State and Utah State. They need content, and a new BYU-Mountain West arrangement would now be in ESPN's interest as well -- which means it probably will happen.


Neal Lourie earns more money
The Columbia-based attorney has Quintin Richardson as his newest client after the South Carolina offensive lineman ALLEGEDLY assaulted his girlfriend ALLEGEDLY. Because the Gamecocks have a surplus of talent on the offensive line, this should make no difference at all in the coming season. Nope, no difference. Lots of offensive lineman. Too many. Could use a few more getting suspended. Now excuse me while I go insane.

Nutt says he'll play two QBs
I know, we're all stunned.

'His career at Alabama is over'
Alfy Hill is likely headed to East Carolina, which means he's probably not going to play for the Tide.

Now, why would they have a provision like that?
New Georgia AD Greg McGarity's contract requires him "to act at all times on and off the campus with appropriate recognition of the fact that the reputation of the University also depends in part on public respect for and approval of those persons associated with its athletic programs." When has a Georgia athletics director not done that?