At one point things were really looking well for the Mountain West with all the talk of conference realignment. When everyone believed that college conferences were in their way to becoming the 16 team super conferences, it seemed like the Mountain West was going to get to expand and add teams like Kansas and Kansas St. Then Texas decided to stay in the Big 12 and people thought, well at least they added Boise St. so they are going to have all the top non BCS schools in one conference, then of course Utah decided to split and enter into the PAC 10. Now Utah’s in state rival, BYU, is also looking to exsit the Mountain West, only instead of joining another conference, like the Big 12 who will only have 10 teams, BYU is looking to go independent.
The Mountain West is currently not a “BCS” conference so that means that unlike the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 10, and SEC, the Mountain West’s conference champion does not get an automatic birth into a BCS game. Instead, they must be in the top 14 of the final BCS standings at the end of the regular season just to be eligible to play in a BCS game. But being a smaller school like BYU has its draw backs. Last season BYU did finish 14th in the final BCS rankings, but Florida and Iowa were chosen instead to go to a BCS bowl game because they were higher ranked. So since the Mountain West does not give the school any advantage in getting into a BCS bowl game, BYU has made the choice to become an independent and keep all of its football revenue for itself. While the Cougars may go independent in football they would also then join the WAC in all other sports, in effect replacing Bosie St. who will be making the move from the WAC to the Mountain West. BYU is now waiting on the approval from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who owns the school, so that they can make the move.
However a new development may put the BYU move on hold. The Mountain West has been trying to become a BCS conference. Going into the summer of 2010 the Mountain West contained 9 teams (Utah, BYU, TCU, Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Colorado St., Wyoming, San Diego St.) but then Boise St.. decided to move to the Mountain West while Utah is going to be heading to the new PAC 10. Now today while the Mountain West Conference was answering a few questions about about BYU, they also announced that they will be inviting Nevada and Fresno St. While it would be best for the conference if Utah were to stay (they would have 12 teams with 4 being very strong teams and 3 pretty good programs), without Utah and BYU the conference will have 10 teams and could have a real shot at being a BCS Conference. With Nevada and Fresno St., the Mountin West would then have more teams then the Big East, and would have more elite programs with Boise St. and TCU.
The choice seems simple to me as to what BYU should do and that is wait. BYU needs to wait and see what Fresno St. and Nevada do before they make any final decision. The WAC has a $5 million dollar buy out if the teams want to leave, so it is going to be tough choice if they do decide to leave. If it really is all about the money and BCS for BYU then they yes they should go independent if Fresno St. and/or Nevada do not join the Mountain West, but if they do then they almost have to stay. If Fresno and Nevada join and BYU stays then the Mountain West will ave a pretty good football conference that should get consideration to become a BCS conference, plus also that means that the MWC would be one team away from getting to have a conference championship game, which means more money for the teams in the conference. It really did seem like the issue of conference realignment was dead in the water for at least the rest of the summer once Texas said that they would stay in the Big 12, but it didn’t even make it through the summer.