Earlier last week Brett McMurphy from ESPN broke two BYU related stories. One, a two game series with Mississippi State, the other being the SEC, that’s right THE ess ehe see, announced that they would count independents for the power five scheduling requirement. Hopefully more will join them, and the ACC, to help BYU schedule better and better games.
Tom Holmoe stated:
“The SEC’s decision, along with the previous announcement from the ACC, is exciting news for Cougar Nation. It won’t change our approach to scheduling because we are already playing as many P5 schools as possible; however, it might help our efforts in the future. BYU has a proven football tradition of excellence, as demonstrated by our No. 5 national ranking in total wins over the past 40 years. Although we are independent in football, we believe we are a Power-5 caliber program and are grateful to the SEC and ACC for their willingness to consider us as such for football scheduling.”
First Mississippi State, as long as they build on last year, looks like a solid SEC team. Mississippi State is coming to Provo in 2016 and BYU goes to Starkville in 2017. With this change we will see more big schools schedule BYU. They probably won’t all go like Mississippi State though, but this makes BYU very schedulable to SEC teams. Mississippi State isn’t the only SEC team slated to be on BYU’s schedule in the future. BYU plays Missouri in Arrowhead stadium this coming season with a return to Provo set up for 2020. BYU is set to open the season against LSU in 2017.
I will admit that I have been frustrated with BYU’s success. I want more and wouldn’t feel like a true fan if I didn’t, but if BYU went undefeated the last two years they wouldn’t be as appealing to SEC teams. Right now if given the choice between Ohio State, USC, Oregon, or BYU, most SEC teams would schedule BYU. They have more flexibility then any other team to schedule and they are still a recognizable name. When people outside of Utah think of BYU they still think of quarterback U even though it seems like they’ve been more of a defensive school under Bronco Mendenhall.
This is big news and big money for the Cougars. This also means more prime time or even afternoon ESPN games as well. ESPN helps make BYU a more attractive schedule then Army. Army will get plenty of “We need a win”, but ESPN puts butts in front of the game and that helps recruiting. Most SEC teams don’t need that help with recruiting, but it may help the bottom of the league.
Hopefully this year can be the last time we see the Wagner Seahawks on the BYU schedule. Hopefully this leads to more meaningful games in November. Utah State being in November is great, but think about Missouri in November instead.
Does this mean that BYU needs to stay Independent? No, it means that Independents will be more palatable. It may open more doors to a Power 5 conference. I still want BYU in a Power 5 conference and the Big 12 is the best fit as far as I see. I still believe it will happen, but all the chips need to fall in place. When the Big 12 got shut out of the playoff last year I think it helped, but there needs to be pressure from the others. It may have been better for both TCU and Baylor to make the playoff ahead of Ohio State. That way the other big Conferences would have thought it was unfair for those two to not play a championship and force them too. The Big 12 would have to be shut out for more than one year to make them think about expanding.
I agree with Bronco Mendenhall when he said to the Salt Lake Tribune:
“I think the advantage [of being independent] is scheduling,” Mendenhall said. “The disadvantage is revenue. And so the television contract, in relation to being a member of one of those conferences, is still not the same. This [announcement] doesn’t change it as far as I’m concerned. It makes it nice to be recognized, and it is nice to have that acknowledgement, but as far as I’m concerned, I would still like to head in that direction [of joining a P5 conference].”
I expect the BYU coaching staff reacted this way to it:
Dr. Bob Anae tomahawk chop! Go Cougars!