Last week, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall made headlines when he told the Austin American-Statesman that BYU “would to be in the Big 12.”
The Cougars have been an independent the past three years but have felt pressure to join a conference due to the scheduling policies of the ACC and SEC and the push among the power five conference teams to gain autonomy.
During the turmoil of conference realignment, both BYU and the Big 12 flirted with the Cougars joining the conference in 2011. But ultimately, the Big 12 invited TCU and West Virginia, and closed its doors at 10 members, while BYU went on to become an independent.
Now, BYU evidently wants the Big 12 to give it another look.
"I would love to be a member of [the Big 12],” Mendenhall said. “I think that would make a lot of sense."
“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."
For those reasons, BYU would be an interesting option for the Big 12.
The Cougars have tradition. They would expand the Big 12 footprint. And they’re the one so-called free agent that would bring TV eyeballs.
On the other hand, BYU’s connection to the Mormon church would present obstacles (BYU doesn’t play games on Sunday). Provo, Utah, is 2,000 miles from Morgantown, W. Va., and 1,300 miles from Austin, Texas. Traveling is already an issue for the Big 12 with West Virginia’s proximity to the rest league.
And if the Big 12 ever added BYU, it would have to add a 12th school, too, to avoid a scheduling nightmare and to feasibly reinstitute a conference championship game. Who would that 12th school be? Cincinnati? Houston? Central Florida?
The Big 12 also recently handed out $23 million to its members (and $14 million to West Virginia and TCU) in distribution revenue. Would that figure be as high with BYU and another school?
With those pros and cons in mind, we put the question to you: Should the Big 12 add BYU? Let us know what you think in our weekly Big 12 blog poll.