Its official! BYU is leaving the Mountain West and will join the West Coast Conference (WCC) for all sports other than football starting the 2011-12 season. Wed., September 1, BYU will hold an official press conference announcing the move.
The whole process has been a real chess match between BYU and the MWC. Earlier this summer BYU pushed for the remaining members of the WAC to sign an agreement to stay in the conference for at least five years so that it would remain a vaiable conference for BYU’s other sports to compete in. To counter BYU’s potential move to the rival conference for all other sports besides football, the MWC raided their rival conference. They were forced to reconsider. Now that they are going ahead with it anyway, Utah State loses out big for being loyal to the WAC and BYU. My sympathies.
Alas, BYU’s decision to move forward with the leap into the wild was released a day before the deadline set by the MWC. If you don’t know a lot about the WCC, check them out at their official site and the omniscient source. The conference is made up of other private, religious institutions, which ironically enough will make scheduling changes to accomodate BYU’s no playing on Sunday stance. Last season BYU was often referred to as the second best team in the west, behind WCC’s Gonzaga. The WCC’s is prominent as a basketball conference, but they do not offer four other sports sponsored by BYU. It is unknown what will happen with those sports. BYU is also a significantly larger school than the other members of the WCC. Other than those differences, the WCC and BYU are great fit for each other.
Jimmy pretty well summed up the rest of the situation in his latest post. The biggest concern for me is that they do not have any bowl contracts. Due to their nationwide fan base, it should not be too difficult to land a bowl game of some sort. Even if they end up in bowl games worse than the Las Vegas Bowl (which is really saying something), they will not have to divide their winnings with a conference. As Spencer commented, along with more earnings from contracts with ESPN and viewership on their own network, BYU games will simply be more available to a larger portion of its fan-base. Even though they won’t have the same agreement with the BCS as Notre Dame has, BYU will have to go undefeated if they want to appear in a BCS bowl either way.
My biggest concern is scheduling. They have proven they can schedule real opponents (i.e. Oklahoma, Florida State, Washington, and Texas), but the real problem will be scheduling later in the season when most teams are in conference play.
The Unofficial Reaction is its a smart, sensible decision worth all the risks and criticism.