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Report: BYU To Play Independent Football, Align With The WCC

The San Jose Mercury News is first out of the gate in reporting that, as speculated, BYU will indeed pursue independence as a football program. Less certain was the fate of the university's remaining sports programs, but the Cougars will deal both the Mountain West and the WAC a blow, choosing to align themselves instead with the West Coast Conference:

The move, which takes effect for the 2011-12 season, changes the face of major college sports in the western third of the country — weakening the Mountain West (BYU’s current home) and strengthening the WCC, whose members include three Bay Area schools: Santa Clara, St. Mary’s and USF.

(It’s impossible to overstate the significance of this development for the WCC, which is about to begin renegotiating its ESPN contract.)

Culturally, it's a good fit for BYU; the WCC includes a host of smaller religious institutions. They'll have good competition in basketball with frequent March Madness darlings like St. Mary's and Gonzaga in the mix.  Clearly, the Cougars have come out on top. The loser here is ... well, everybody else.