With Texas A&M bolting for the SEC a year after the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Colorado Buffaloes left, the Big 12 is collapsing -- or so the Big 12 says. The conference really should deploy a plan soon to stop the bleeding and ensure the Missouri Tigers, among others, that it makes more sense to stick around than to jet.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Pittsburgh Panthers have seen their names thrown into the Big 12 rumor mix, with each sending out statements denying interest over the past week. People keep bringing up the Arkansas Razorbacks, which isn't going to happen, and YES WE HEAR YOU SMU.
But the lone interesting statement to come out of all this was released by the BYU Cougars:
There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference. The university will have no further comment.
That's so not a no. If you think about it, schools like Virginia Tech and Pitt have to issue abrupt, frazzled statements denying realignment rumors, as they have current conferences to appease. But BYU's a football independent. So let's talk.
Why would BYU think about giving up its short-lived independence to join Conference Texas?
There are only a handful of schools in the country with the national or global reach to support their own television networks. Texas is one. Notre Dame would be another. So is BYU. BYU likes their relationship with ESPN? Texas loves theirs. I still really like the idea of those three establishing the country's most casual conference, which would allow each school to get money however it pleases.
BYU could have just about everything it wants out of independence, plus annual marquee games against Texas and Oklahoma and a straightforward path to BCS money.
If the Big 12 has another significant move to make, it's not clear right now, but adding BYU could be what it takes.
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