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BYU’s Mendenhall welcomes a Big 12 invite, if only it would be extended

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BYU is embarking on its fourth season as a football independent since leaving the Mountain West Conference behind. At the time the decision was made to abandon conference affiliation in football, there was a sense of pride and ambition for the program and the plan actually seemed to make some sense early on. What BYU may have failed to predict was the continued evolution of the college football landscape and how it would impact BYU. Now, perhaps feeling a need to secure a footing in the college football world, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is letting it be known his program would appreciate consideration for a spot in the Big 12. Why wouldn’t he?

“We would love to be in the Big 12,” Mendenhall said in a story posted by the Austin American-Statesman. “I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, if that was your headline, that would be great.”

It would make plenty of sense for BYU. Not only would a spot in the Big 12 cement BYU with a connection to one of the power conferences in college football, lump it in with brands like Texas and Oklahoma, but it would solve one of the biggest problems BYU faces as an independent; scheduling. The stress of having to fill out a 12-game schedule annually would be relieved with eight or nine conference games locked in every season. BYU would also cash in on Big 12 conference revenues, which could end up being more profitable than the current financial structure in place for BYU despite having power to arrange its own media rights deals without having to share a dime with any other school.

If the Pac-12 was not going to invite BYU (it opted for Utah and Colorado, remember), then the Big 12 is the most logical conference destination for BYU if it is to be a part of a power conference. The problem is, the need to add BYU is not there for the Big 12, a conference establishing a comfort level with a 10-member line-up after letting the ground settle in conference realignment madness of recent years.

Mendenhall has seen the way power conferences are viewing Notre Dame and feels BYU is deserving of that same level of respect as an independent. Notre Dame will qualify as a power conference opponent for the ACC’s non-conference scheduling requirement, but BYU will not. This does not sit well for the head coach at BYU.

From the Austin American-Statesman;

“We have a chip on our shoulder,” Mendenhall said. “I could have given you that instead of the longer answer. I’m just wondering who fights for us as an independent?

“Between myself and my basketball coaches, there’s no two featured programs that have won more games,” Mendenhall continued. “Our attendance is high enough. And our winning percentage is high enough.

“We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the church. There’d be a ton to offer the Big 12, because it’s a money-generated world right now. You’re talking about an amazing kind of brand.”

The Big 12 has said time and time again it is fine sitting on a membership of ten schools. For the Big 12, the lack of a conference championship game has not been a major concern, to this point at least. One of the big questions moving into the College Football Playoff era is what will the impact of a conference championship game have. If it looks as though the Big 12 is losing a step to the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 because it does not play a championship game, rumbles about expansion may kick up some dust. If that is the case, would BYU be among the potential candidates?

It appears there are four options for BYU.

1. The Big 12 answers Mendenhall’s prayers and invites the Cougars to join the conference along with some other school to get to 12 members and play a conference championship game. This is likely a long shot at best right now.

2. Work with the Big 12 to establish some sort of relationship similar in structure to the ACC’s deal with Notre Dame. Having five games with BYU on the schedule certainly is not a drain on the Big 12’s non-conference schedule and it provides BYU with some more stability with scheduling. If BYU can even sneak into the Big 12’s bowl line-up the way Notre Dame will in the ACC, that is a bonus.

3. BYU continues as a football independent, hoping to secure scheduling deals with Pac-12 schools (like UCLA) and push for national scheduling. This may urn out to be the most likely scenario, and may still be the best case scenario if the power conferences do not totally split off from the rest fo the NCAA.

4. BYU gets left behind in the power shift in college football and rejoins the Mountain West Conference, providing for schedule stability in whatever happens in the future of the college football landscape.

Are there any other options on the table for BYU? Which is the best plan?

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30 Responses to “BYU’s Mendenhall welcomes a Big 12 invite, if only it would be extended”
  1. planecrashguy says: Jun 5, 2014 10:12 PM

    If I’m the B12, I add BYU and either Cincinnati/Memphis/USAFA to get to twelve for a championship game.

  2. scoochpooch says: Jun 5, 2014 10:28 PM

    BYU had their chance with Big 12 but blew it with overzealous demands. Demands coming from a school begging to play with the big boys, ridiculous. So funny that Utah moved up and BYU is stagnating.

  3. thirty2ncountin says: Jun 5, 2014 10:49 PM

    The Big 12 has been picking up scraps since mizzou and a/m took off. We had our chance and blew it thanks to a ut AD posing as a conference commissioner. We will get picked apart and say hello to the Power 4 conferences.

  4. coachbeck says: Jun 5, 2014 10:59 PM

    Cincinnati should get a big 12 invite before BYU.

  5. ancientcougar says: Jun 5, 2014 11:02 PM

    BYU refused admission to the Big 12 because they didn’t want to compromise their religious tenets and play on no no days. Or was it the Pac 12?

  6. ancientcougar says: Jun 5, 2014 11:04 PM

    Houston should have been included in the revamped SWC, Big 12 merger. Look at their record when they were in the SWC.

  7. planecrashguy says: Jun 5, 2014 11:59 PM

    BYU’s problems relative to their religious beliefs and willingness to play on Sunday and so forth, those problems were with the Pac-12 not the Big

    12. In particular it was Stanford and Cal who black listed BYU from the PAC12.

    .

    As to Cincinnati joining the Big 12, still don’t see why they would want to bring in a school that cannot fill a 35 thousand seat stadium in a town that has no interest in college footbal. Cincy is a pro sports and college basketball town.

    10 there’s no reason to go to go in to Cincinnati to the big 12

  8. shaunodame says: Jun 6, 2014 4:07 AM

    Big 12 should add BYU and UCF. UCF is on the rise and in a VERY fertile recruiting ground that the other Big12 schools would LOVE to get their hands in. If not UCF then Houston absolutely fits the profile.

  9. fatcamper says: Jun 6, 2014 7:07 AM

    I feel they would want to flip a coin between USF and UCF. UCF has had much more success the past couple of years, but are 1-4 against USF. Historically, UCF has played the role of little brother. USF still out recruits UCF, but neither are killing it with attendance. Of course, selling out a game with UT is a bit easier than getting either location excited for Tulsa

  10. 8to80texansblog says: Jun 6, 2014 9:51 AM

    Good luck with that. After the spanking they gave Texas last year, the defacto Big 12 commissioner is probably not likely to invite that team into the fray.

  11. deadeye says: Jun 6, 2014 9:59 AM

    Gee, I wonder if BYU will come off the no-Sunday-play rule to land in a major conference. They are on the verge of being left behind, which is a shame because BYU does have good merit. But they need to compromise if they want in.

  12. coachbeck says: Jun 6, 2014 11:10 AM

    What makes you think Cincy can’t fill their stadium? They are expanding it lol. You don’t expand if you have attendance problems. Their attendance is on par with Louisville, wvu, and the majority of the current big 12 with exception to UT and OU.

  13. thraiderskin says: Jun 6, 2014 12:30 PM

    Why is not playing on Sunday a deal breaker? Why can’t that be respected? BYU is a solid program, I’m positive such a trivial issue could be over looked.

  14. bfree2k says: Jun 6, 2014 2:16 PM

    I agree with shaunodame on the UCF add giving the BIG 12 a footprint into Florida joining the SEC as the only two power conferences with a footprint in those two fertile recruiting grounds. I disagree on adding Houston which would give the conference a fifth school in a state that they practically own.

  15. crasharmon says: Jun 6, 2014 3:44 PM

    Why would BYU want to start playing on Sunday? In 2013 and in 2014 there are only TWO regular season college football games played/scheduled on Sunday, and that was Labor Day weekend. The NFL cornered the market for Sunday play.

    BYU is probably only interested in joining a conference in football. The WCC is a nice fit for BYU in the other sports.

  16. wvuandsteelers says: Jun 6, 2014 4:35 PM

    If the Big 12 did expand and we assume they can’t steal anyone from the other major conferences, I would want BYU and probably Central Florida. I could make an argument for Central and South Florida, but South Florida’s program just doesn’t seem headed in the right direction.

    UConn is another possibility given their basketball tradition. Just don’t think that would carry as much weight.

  17. 8to80texansblog says: Jun 6, 2014 5:56 PM

    Honestly… What’s the long term viability of the Big 12?

    I felt until Texas’ Big 10 and Pac 10 flirtations the conference was solid…. now even after adding WVU and TCU, it feels like the seams could unravel at any moment.

  18. loltimore says: Jun 6, 2014 6:09 PM

    I’d like to see UConn into the ACC and Loolville into the Big 12 with BYU.

  19. andynormile says: Jun 6, 2014 7:24 PM

    BYU and Boise State join the PAC-12. UCF, USF, Houston and SMU join the Big 10. All power conferences then have 14 colleges, and play a championship game, parity

  20. ajarkoski says: Jun 6, 2014 8:48 PM

    BYU travels well and usually fields a quality team. The PAC is foolish for not adding them. Get them and Boise to keep up with the B1G and others.

  21. ancientcougar says: Jun 7, 2014 11:43 AM

    I think that the PAC or the B1G should look at Houston for a toehold in the Texas Market.

  22. Pounder says: Jun 7, 2014 9:30 PM

    “If I’m the B12, I add BYU and either Cincinnati/Memphis/USAFA to get to twelve for a championship game.”

    I think the B12 would rather have Cincy and a Florida school. Maybe they’re even still dreaming of Clemson and Florida State.

    “Houston should have been included in the revamped SWC, Big 12 merger. Look at their record when they were in the SWC.”

    Conference expansion is about what you do next, not what happened 30 years ago. Example: Boise State seemed obvious for a while based on performance. But really?

    “Gee, I wonder if BYU will come off the no-Sunday-play rule to land in a major conference. They are on the verge of being left behind, which is a shame because BYU does have good merit. But they need to compromise if they want in.”

    No Sunday is a CHURCH thing more than a school thing. Most conferences need Sunday programming for their networks. Both are understandable positions. Not that LDS hasn’t had a “convenient revelation” or two.

    “I felt until Texas’ Big 10 and Pac 10 flirtations the conference was solid…. now even after adding WVU and TCU, it feels like the seams could unravel at any moment.”

    It’s really hard to foresee Texas shedding their ego. As long as that doesn’t happen, the rest of the college football world accommodates them and the B12 exists. It seems unfair to someone outside the region, but I bet most of you thought this was all about what happens inside the lines. Really, not that much now.

    “BYU and Boise State join the PAC-12. UCF, USF, Houston and SMU join the Big 10. All power conferences then have 14 colleges, and play a championship game, parity”

    The big guns don’t want parity. Heh.

    “BYU travels well and usually fields a quality team. The PAC is foolish for not adding them. Get them and Boise to keep up with the B1G and others.”

    Keep up? The numbers game has nothing to do with the number of schools. It has to do with the TV market commanded. That’s why the Pac-12 holds out for Texas (even to the exclusion of Oklahoma). A BYU-Boise State addition actually loses money for the Pac-12. For that matter, while adding Colorado was a bit of help for the conference, Utah really wasn’t. Fans out west are actually upset with that expansion.

  23. coolhorn46 says: Jun 8, 2014 12:23 AM

    Just a hunch…I’m certainly no insider, but for the time being, barring some seismic shift brought on by the playoff, I don’t think the Big XII expands for a few years, if at all.

    I think it’s more likely that some combination of UT, OU, and two others (Probably OSU and Tech or KU) heads west, assuming UT and OU get to hold on to their networks in some form. I get the feeling that the PAC commish knows that’s the very best option for his conference to get to 16, which seems to be the optimal number in the brave new world of major college football. Sorry for any Big XII fans on this thread, but I just don’t think the conference as now constructed is built to last and I don’t see any reasonable options for expansions. (Sorry BYU, Cincy, and the directional Florida schools…)

    I suppose there’s an outside chance that UT and OU could become the SEC’s 15th and 16th schools, but I don’t see any other viable options for the Big XII’s two highest profile programs. Oh, and no…UT won’t even entertain the idea of going independent…take a look at the troubles associated with that that BYU has listed above.

    Just spitballing here, but if the Big XII goes the way of the dinosaurs, the AAC might look to expand and become a player in the playoff picture, and BYU and some of the Big XII schools might find that conference to be a more attractive option.

  24. uffdatx says: Jun 8, 2014 3:19 AM

    andynormile,

    I think you have the Big 10 mixed up with the Big 12. The Big 10 has 14 schools and the Big 12 has 10 schools. I guess neither one can count. ROFL

    I’d like to see BYU in the Big12, but I don’t see it happening. The Big 12 is hemmed in by the other four super conferences and the decent table scraps the other super conferences left behind are too far away.

  25. 8to80texansblog says: Jun 9, 2014 12:40 PM

    @coolhorn

    1st… OU and OSU are legally joined at the hip so anywhere one goes, so must the other.

    I don’t see the SEC allowing Texas in. Ironically A&M now has the power in the relationship that regard and very seriously doubt they’d allow it.

    PAC is probably a better option, but didn’t they balk at the LHN the last time?

  26. graygrantham1 says: Jun 11, 2014 4:54 AM

    So the Big 12 has no motivation to think expansion anytime soon?

    How about money or greed.

    Currently the Big 12 distributes approx $22 million per school with a 90 game football broadcast inventory. (I know there is more to it than football but for the sake of discussion I’m using football broadcast inventory as the measuring stick)

    OK so lets say the big 12 decides to add two more members (ANY TWO WILL DO).

    The Big 12 is aligned into two 6 team divisions but continue to play a full round robin going from 90 games to 132 games. A 32% increase in inventory should equal a 32% increase in T1/T2 broadcast revenue or a new share of $24 million for each of the 12 schools. Add a CCG ($24 million) and you get an additional $2 million per school

    Phase in the two new members starting at $21 million and add $1 million each year for 5 years until they are at full share (now $26 million) and you have generated another $2 million (one time) for each of the current 10 members.

    So $2 million (one time) and probably about $2 million per year additional broadcast revenue and $2 million per year each for CCG revenue you get to a fairly simple math equation.

    Any two schools will increase the revenue over the next 10 year for every current big 12 member school by about $42 million.

    Two new schools would phase in shares of $21 million (y1) to $26 million (y5)

    So maybe the issue isn’t, does BYU and San Diego bring enough value (sure they do any 2 FBS teams will do) perhaps it becomes more political or perhaps even religious jealousy. Perhaps the big 12 just doesn’t want to see that kinda money going to the Mormon church

  27. 8to80texansblog says: Jun 11, 2014 11:52 AM

    @graygrantham

    I like your analysis but your logic is a bit too simplistic. You can’t just assume that every game and every school are worth the same. Also you can’t just assume that any 2 will do. As much as I hate to say it… Texas brings more to the table than BYU or Cincinnati. Thus you can’t say that adding BYU or Cincinnati will have the same effect on total revenue as Texas or OU currently do.

    Also If you add another team in a market that is already saturated you’re just stealing eyeballs from Peter to pay Paul, you’re not creating new eyeballs, which is what you would need to justify a higher TV contract. So say adding Houston would not necessarily generate substantial additional ratings.

    There are a multitude of variables that have to be analyzed in order to decide if expansion is a good idea and where to expand.

  28. planecrashguy says: Jun 11, 2014 6:15 PM

    coachbeck says:
    Jun 6, 2014 11:10 AM
    What makes you think Cincy can’t fill their stadium? They are expanding it lol. You don’t expand if you have attendance problems. Their attendance is on par with Louisville, wvu, and the majority of the current big 12 with exception to UT and OU.

    *laughs* Coach, I’m a UC grad and I live here. Look at NCAA stats on home attendance over the past decade, to compare UC with WVU (55+k avg) or UL (50+K avg) is pure folly. No other school in the B12 averages less than 40K, UC doesn’t average 30K. With Pitt and UL no longer coming to UC, look for that average to drop even lower.

    Also, you don’t seem to understand the purpose of the expansion at Nippert. The expansion mainly will come via premium seating, adding suites, club seats and loge boxes within a new press box structure. They gain about 4000 seats, the majority of which will go to the likes of P&G, Krogers, Cintas, Duke, GE etc. There won’t be a net gain in attendance, it’s just the corporate types will sit in nicer seats.

    I’d love to see this city support UC football, but it’s not going to happen. This is not a college football town, it’s that simple.

  29. coolhorn46 says: Jun 12, 2014 5:32 PM

    @ 8 to 8…Everybody thought UT and agricultural were joined at the hip, until they weren’t. Any team can make a move under the right conditions, including UT and OU. I do think if UT and OU get their ‘druthers, they’d take Tech and OSU and join the PAC. As for the LHN being a problem, IF UT and OU indicate a willingness to talk to the PAC, accomodations will be found. Adding the four Big XII schools is the only really viable way for the PAC to get to the optimum 16 number.

    Reference the SEC…UT doesn’t want in, and really, I don’t think OU does either. However, make no mistake that UT and OU are Mike Slive’s endgame, and if he can get interest from the two, aggy will get overruled. That business about no two schools from a state in the SEC is NOT a formal rule. Reference ‘Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I do think you’re right though, simply because UT hasn’t shown an interest in the SEC since the early nineties.

  30. nonix559 says: Jun 20, 2014 5:02 PM

    I would add BYU & Fresno State. If not Fresno State & WSU. If not 3rd choise Fresno State & SMU either way B12 needs to add a California market & some other team out in the West.

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