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Is an awkward reunion between BYU and the Mountain West inevitable?

Is an awkward reunion between BYU and the Mountain West inevitable?

Almost four years ago, the three biggest names in the Mountain West Conference, Utah, TCU and BYU all went their separate ways (cue the Journey music) to capitalize on their own individual fame and fortune within a college football hierarchy that all but dared institutions to do just that.

Utah, a perennial contender under Kyle Whittingham in the MWC, joined the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) and will receive an estimated $20 million this year in payouts. TCU has a similar path to the Big-12 (only ten members). They are expected to bring in $26 million this next year.  To put that in perspective, the University of Wyoming’s entire athletic budget is about $29.6 million. The money is pouring in, but both have been relegated to relative obscurity within a bigger pond thus far.

Then there is BYU. The Cougars were not extended an invite to the west, nor were they asked to join the league to the east. So they decided to strike out on their own. Not a bad decision monetarily. The university is bringing in approximately $10 million with agreements with ESPN and their own station, BYUtv. This is armfuls of cash better than what the television deal that was in place when they left the league.

However, in those four years, the MWC renegotiated some of their strict (and nonsensical) television contracts and squeezed some significant blood from the small school stone. Previous payments of $1 million have increased into the neighborhood of $3 million for the league’s top teams with the shuttering of The Mtn., the league’s now defunct television station and night games on ESPN. This pays schools some $500,000 per appearance.
So where is all this going?

BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall recently stated that he felt his Cougars and BYU would be  perfect fit for the Big-12. It seemed to be an uninvited opinion in the wake of the Big 5’s decision (SEC, ACC, Big-12, Big Ten & Pac-12) to shrink their pool of opponents to remind them of the Cougar’s history.

The Big-12 higher-ups responded that revenues have never been higher and that expansion is not even on the docket. In other words. It’s nice you think so Bronco, but no thanks.

MWC_LogoWhich brings us back to the MWC. The bad television contract (improved but still bad) is almost up, which means negotiations are about to begin.

I believe it’s time for the MWC and BYU to both swallow a little pride and join forces once again.
For the Mo’ West, the Cougars bring an elevated television potential which would increase an overall payout for league schools. The league itself is in a position to offer the Y something they seemingly have zero chance at in the new NCAA alignment. A shot at a New Year’s Day bowl.

Both the SEC & ACC in recent weeks have stated that BYU does not qualify as a Big 5 opponent, meaning less scheduling opportunities. The MWC is in the so-called Group of Five (MWC, Sun Belt, American, MAC & Conference USA). The best team of those leagues is guaranteed one of the major bowl payouts in the playoff system moving forward. If you have the highest rating from one of those leagues, you play on New Years. This is something that BYU has not been able to attain during the BCS era or as an Independent, they are not even eligible for the Cotton, Peach, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar or Rose bowls moving forward.

Which is why the time is now to bury the hatchet.

I think the wheels have already started turning. MWC Commissioner, Craig Thompson, has come out saying that the league will also be “re-evaluating” the scheduling of BYU moving forward. I think this is simply sabre-rattling to perhaps get the Cougar administration to consider a reunion. Maybe the teams can help each other out in a new NCAA where you are either wanted, or unwanted. Perhaps an increased payout for schools combined with concessions to BYU getting to broadcast their own product. It’s probably time both entities realized they are stronger together than they are separate. Yes, it will make for some awkward steps along the way, but have you ever seen a reunion photo? Awkward is what it’s all about.

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Is an awkward reunion between BYU and the Mountain West inevitable?

21 thoughts on “Is an awkward reunion between BYU and the Mountain West inevitable?

  1. This has to be the silliest suggestions out there. What possible motivation is there for BYU to essentially go backwards?

  2. I can see how this would benefit the MWC, but I don’t see a compelling argument as to why BYU would entertain the idea.

    BYU’s intentions are clear. They want in a Power 5 conference, the Big 12 specifically. BYU would be foolish to not let that thought percolate in the minds of the Big 12 schools for a while. They would add value to the conference financially. What BYU needs to make a Big 12 invite work is for another school to show that they can also be a net add to the equation.

    If the Big 12 wants to remain a viable conference they will need to grow. If they don’t UT and OU will bolt the first chance they get and the Big 12 will become the next Big East, i.e. they will cease to exist. The other schools in the Big 12 not named UT or OU will come to see this pretty quickly and will start singing a different tune before too long.

  3. This will NEVER happen. Please explain what value the MWC adds to BYU? Scheduling? our schedules are way better than when we were with the MWC.

  4. Inevitable? ya right. Since BYU left the MWC they now:

    1. Make more money.
    2. Get more national exposure.
    3. Can get a better schedule.

    With the current fear that is felt in the hearts of BYU athletic department its power-5 or bust. Going back to the MWC would hurt their brand and their recruiting.

  5. Ask your selves these questions:

    1. How often do we get a chance to play for a National Championship? (Once in our history)

    2. So why do we make that an all important part of our football life?

    3. As a member of the MWC, how many P5 games do we get to play in a season and
    compare that 1-or 2 to the number of P5 teams we get to play as an independent.
    Do you really want to go back to 1 or 2 P5 games per season?

    4. As a member of the MWC, how many TV games to we get to play in a season on TV
    for $10+ million dollars like we do being an Independent. Do you really want to
    give that up?

    5. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Do we really want to go back to known Mid
    Major Conference or would we rather stay Independent with Notre Dame?

    Finally, if we stop trying to fool ourselves playing division 2 teams to guarantee wins and a bowl, we will be much more respected. We throw away the respect of playing 4-5 P5 teams in a season when we play that many or more Patsey teams, including Division 2 teams.

  6. The entire premise of this article is absolutely ludicrous. The Cougars would NEVER, repeat NEVER, go backwards into the Mountain West Conference. I look for BYU to be able to increase their payout from ESPN to close to $20 million in the near future. Conference expansion is coming sooner than later. The Big 12 will have to expand to 14 teams as will the Pac 12. Look for BYU to receive an invite when that happens. BYU needs to do ONE THING right now to assure an invite- they need to WIN! TCU did it, and Utah did it. Boise State did it as well, but their TV market is too small add significant dollars to any contract. Change is coming to college football, but it won’t include BYU in the Mountain West.

  7. If BYU: (1) can’t get into a P5 conference AND THEN (2) decides that independence and the WCC just aren’t working out, then BYU’s next best alternative (3) is actually the American, not the MWC.

    But, it’s WAY TOO early for BYU to give up on a P5 conference invite, let alone independence.

    See also yesterday’s article from Big 12 territory – “Big 12 Football: The Case for a BYU Scheduling Alliance”

    This would fall as alternative 2a, above.

  8. I truly believe that the only way the Cougars would go back to the MWC is IF they feel that it is their only option. The American is the second least desirable option. It seems that lately the pressure has been on even from within the B12 fanbase to seriously consider bringing BYU in. This, of course, is the most desirable option for us all. Aside from playing in the strongest division it looms possible that the Brethren might take the sports program back to the student participation level ala BYUI and BYU-Hawaii. That would be devastating to many of the faithful.
    Go Cougs!!

  9. As we attended the MWC basketball tourney the past couple of years many of the fans expressed a continued disdain for the Cougars yet at the same time with all the newly added teams also had strong desires to have us back. They love to have someone to hate. It would certainly be fun but absolutely not nearly the best solution. Definitely not an upgrade move.

  10. The only school in the MWC that would benefit from BYU rejoining the conference is Utah State. BYU already has a lengthy home and home deal to play Boise State through 2023 in place. Craig Thompson is gambling that his political blackmail move to invite Utah State 2 years ago pans out. He tried in August 2010 to keep BYU from pulling the football independence trigger by approaching Utah State first BEFORE calling Fresno State & Nevada since he knows more about the politics of BYU governance all too well. But I think BYU will try now to get into the Big 12 since like a 10 team league neither is sustainable in their present state. BYU should NOT return to the MWC to solely benefit Utah State which is no doubt on the minds of Tom Holmoe and his new boss Kevin Worthen. BYU should NOT have to go back to a dysfunctional league just to nanny Utah State the way they did Utah for 3-4 decades in the WAC/MWC alignment.

  11. Will never happen. What’s funny, however, is that after Thompson’s latest remarks, and his mismanagement of BYU both during their MWC tenure and during their departure….any deal with BYU coming back would require his resignation… 🙂

    1. Agree no way BYU goes back to MWC as long as Hair Thompson IS IN CHARGE and probably not even then they would GO to the AAC first!

  12. The big Power 5 needs a Lawsuit to include “ALL” the Schools to bring them down to Equal Status. These Conferences have taken all the cookies and seems that they left nothing but the CRUMBS. The other 5 Conferences have the right to Participate in all those Bowl Games, I get sick and Tired of these Schools getting all the attention and the other Schools don’t. This BCS Crap I hated so much, and now they made it the “BIG BOYS CLUB”.

    They all need to be brought down and brought down HARD.

  13. There is a way for a 6th Conference to be included. Take 10 or 11 Teams from the Other Conferences and make them the 6 them Conference.

    The schools I think would be able to hold their own against any of the other 5 Conferences are;

    Cincinnati BearCats.
    Louisville Cardinals.
    Houston Cougars
    Rutgers University Scarlet Kights
    Brigham Young Univ. Cougars.
    Boise State Broncos
    Fresno State Bulldogs
    San Diego State Aztecs
    Utah State Aggie
    University of Central Florida Knightro
    Army Knights

    I believe that any of these teams can’t beat any team in the Big 5 Conferences on any given day. How sweet it would be to see this happen/ All of these teams aren’t push overs at all. They are strong and can compete with the BIG BOYS!.

  14. No way Jose! One of the refreshing things of independence is to be free of the BYU haters in Laramie, Albuquerque, etc. We actually play teams now who have a level of respect for the Cougs. Go back to BYU hater land? No, a thousand time no.

  15. BYU will shut down their athletic program, implode the stadium and build a medical school where the 50 yard line used to sit, before they rejoin the MWC.

  16. BYU won’t do anything unless we can have BYU tv can rebroadcast home games we’ll the big 12 let us do whate Texas does??

  17. BYU should go back to the MWC when:
    1. thompson is gone
    2. New Mexico, Wyoming, CSU, UNLV, Nev. are gone or learn to win 8 games regulary. And develop a fan base that shows a modicum of class.
    3. The MWC TV package is 8 times bigger than what BYU gets now.

  18. In all the articles and conversations about Mid-Majors (MM), and their “access” to the new playoff system, I never read anyone talking about what seems pretty obvious to me. The Big 5 are clearly angling for a new “Big 5 Football Division”. Thus, the agreement will be DOA, scrapped (or only honored for as short a period as legally possible). There is only one real option, and that is to be found on the inside of the Big 5 Division. The MWC will definitely be left for dead on the side of the college football road; it is only a question of when.

    (CAVEAT: Unless the outsiders can somehow successfully sue the Big 5 for anti-trust violations… But I don’t think the MM would win that suit.)

  19. If I were any conference, Iany conference at all…Including JuCo and high school conferences…BYU…..We don’t want you…You stay on the far side of our door.

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