As many theorized during Conference Realignment Armageddon, a polarizing school with a nationwide fan base and its own network, with plans to play football at DKRTMS in 2001, might be better served by ditching the conference system and going its own route, at least for football.
Yes, BYU is apparently considering football independence and joining the WAC for its other sports.
My initial perspective is that I like the proposed move, at least from BYU’s perspective.
Keep in mind that I generally have dismissed most schools’ abilities to successfully make a stab at independence, and that includes Texas.
I hadn’t contemplated BYU independence, but the school would certainly have a nationwide fan base few other schools have.
Additionally, on the risk-reward side, the balance in favor of reward is much greater for BYU than it would be for most other schools.
To use Texas as an example, since most have surmised that Texas would have the best chance of any BCS school of making the move, the rewards could be great, but the risks are very great as well — giving up the security blanket of a conference which if you win it, you play for the championship; scheduling in October and November; and finding a home for non-revenues.
The risks for BYU strike me as not being anywhere near as big. Geography (and, perhaps, anti-LDS bias) has condemned BYU to mid-major status if it remains in the conference system. Winning its conference and going undefeated guarantee nothing. (See: Utah 2004 and 2008; TCU 2009.)
Run the table on an upgraded independent schedule (it’s easier for BYU to "upgrade" by replacing UNM or SDSU or UNLV than it would be for Texas to replace Big 12 school), though, and the chance of appearing in a championship game might increase.
Exploit the built-in nationwide fan base, and perhaps earn the school a lot more money than The Mountain brings the school.
And if the WAC wants to be the useful idiot as the parking space for the non-revenues, all the better.
Plus, the school already has its own nationwide network (BYU TV, which is carried by at least DirecTV nationwide, up in the religious channels for now). It's apparently planning to take it HD soon.
BYU and Utah both leaving the MWC is all but deadly for the conference in its attempt to upgrade to BCS status, even with the addition of Boise State. What does this do to TCU? Would this make the Frogs poachable by, perhaps, the Big East? (Let's not reopen the TCU-to-the-Big 12 debate, since it seems as though the conference is wisely staying at 10 schools.)
I now await Wrangler86's strong denunciation of BYU's arrogance for playing an independent schedule for football and joining another conference for all of its other sports.