Big East courting BYU, coach says

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday his school has had discussions with the Big East about joining its conference.

The Big East is trying to create a West Division as it tries to re-invent itself following the departures of Pitt, Syracuse, TCU and West Virginia. Boise State has expressed an interest in joining as a football-only member, but only if there is a West Division in order to help ease travel.

BYU is in its first season as an independent after leaving the Mountain West, and would be interested in joining any league that has an automatic qualifying spot into the BCS.

As an independent, the only way BYU can get into the BCS is with an at-large selection.

"There is a push and there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference," Mendenhall said during his weekly press conference in Provo, Utah. "I trust our athletic director (Tom Holmoe) and president (Cecil) Samuelson to deal with all of that. I have been informed along the way. At some point there will be a decision with what our intentions will be. I don't know how fast nor do I think a time frame is relevant at this point."

One of the biggest questions is whether the Big East would retain that AQ spot after this cycle ends.

"With the landscape changing, the main benefit I can see on a short-term scale would be inclusion to the BCS system," Mendenhall said. "That is up in two years and whether the Big East can hold that spot with the new teams going in, my guess would be yes. I can't speak as to what we are going to do other than just to verify we have been approached. I wasn't involved in anything else."

BYU has a unique set-up because it has its own television network, BYUtv, in which it airs all its football games, either live or on replay. That will be something that has to be addressed should conversations grow more in-depth.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto was given the go-ahead last week to invite teams into the conference. Boise State, Air Force, SMU, Houston, UCF and Navy all have been mentioned as candidates.

Boise State president Bob Kustra was given the authority last week by the state board of education to pursue membership into the Big East, but only if a West Division was created.

Andrea Adelson covers Big East football for ESPN.com.