Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Nov 2011

BYU 'Close' to Joining Big East

On this week's edition of As The Conference Turns...

BYU, a major domino that has yet to fall in realignment, is reportedly close to joining the Big East. Other schools that had already been accepted were waiting for Boise State to get a partner on the western flank before they announced their decision, and BYU appears to be the team that will fill the void.

This would, seemingly, be a big step towards the Big East keeping its automatic BCS bid.

Update: BYU will now apparently not join the Big East, with television rights being the major sticking point.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 17 Nov 2011

55 comments, Last at 20 Nov 2011, 8:59pm by dbostedo


by djanyreason :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 2:09pm

So, "East" is now defined as any state not bordering the Pacific Ocean?

by Floyd (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 2:44pm

I thought San Diego State was in the mix as well. If they join, the conference will border both oceans, Canada and Mexico. And have only two schools in the Northeast.

Yeah, this'll work just fine.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 2:30pm

If there's a more natural football rivalry than the UConn and BYU, I certainly can't name it.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 2:44pm

Wazzu and Mizzou?

by andrew :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 3:19pm

BYU and LSU. Because they're on the Bayou.

aside from that it has to be the legendary Culinary Academy vs Connecticut School of Broadcasting rivalry.

by The Powers That Be :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 2:56pm

Surely the conference will change its name if all this falls into place? I propose simply "Big".

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:52am

The Big Mess?

by tuluse :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:57pm

The Notorious BIG

by dryheat :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 8:55am

Actually, I find "East" to be less objectionable than "Big".

by Alexander :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 3:10pm

I am fairly glad that Pitt has left this conference now, and I would be happier if no one ever joined it again. Honestly BYU and Boise would make a better 2 team conference playing each other 8 games a year.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 4:24pm

So going independent was just a sham? Shocking!

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:56am

Yeah, the independent route was an extremely short-lived and rather strange experiment. Hard to see how it could have really been worth it. And looking at some of these other Mountain West schools who have either left already (TCU) or are considering doing so, there don't appear to be any real problems with a speedy exit. Looks like BYU outthought themselves.

by Temo :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 5:48pm

This is additionally humorous when considering that it wasn't too long ago that the Big East was known for having a lot of the Catholic universities/communities represented in its ranks.

by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 5:59pm

They are still there, they just don't play (Div. I) football. Boston College was the only Catholic football playing school there, and they bailed years ago.

The Big East was always much more of a basketball conference first than a football conference.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 8:06pm

Since it existed for 12 years before a football conference was dreamed up (and didn't start conference play for another two years after that), that's not really surprising. What I'd worry about in the long run for the Big East is that the football members have become less and less connected to the non-football members with each shakeup.

by RickD :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 11:50pm

Let's see what I can think of off the top of my head.

St. John's
Seton Hall

(googles) oh, and Villanova.

Oh and Marquette, DePaul, and Notre Dame are Catholic schools in the non-football part of the conference. Personally, I spend a lot of time pretending that these three are not in the conference at all. I grew up in the 80s and the current practice of conference swapping really bothers me.

It is curious that BC was the only Catholic school with a (respectable) football program in the Big East football conference. (I thought about not including the last six words - your mileage may vary as to whether Notre Dame football is "respectable.")

by Mikey Benny :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:54am

It's moot because Notre Dame is not a part of Big East football anyway.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:11pm

Moot with respect to what point?

I was talking about Catholic schools in the Big East. Pretty much all of them are not in the football part of the conference.

As I already said.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 5:30pm

Villanova's respectable in FCS, so you'd need the qualifier.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:15pm


Well, they did beat UPenn this season. And UMass.

While losing to, let's see, Towson, Monmouth, William & Mary, New Hampshire, James Madison, Old Dominion, Maine, and Delaware.

You have a very low standard for "respectable."

by Jerry :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 8:33am

I suspect that when all is said and done, the Big East will return to being a basketball conference full of Catholic universities, even if some are in the Midwest.

by Solomon :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:30am

Dang ... I was really hoping the Big East would lose its automatic BCS bid in a few years.

If Brigham Young U. could be a little more patient, it could probably receive a Big 12 invitation within a year or two, which seems like a better fit.

by njligernj :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 8:29am

Why on earth are you *hoping* they lose their bid? What difference does it make to you? The events of this year make it patently clear that all these conferences are arbitrary, meaningless groupings which can change at the drop of a hat on the whim of billion dollar corporations.

I can't understand for a second why anyone supports this insane system by falling into the trap of debating which conference is best and which deserves automatic bids. NONE of them deserve bids -- bids shouldn't exist. The entire stupid system should not exist. We all want playoffs so why buy into this nonsense? We should burn this thing to the ground (and use people who chant "SEC" as kindling).

by dbostedo :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 2:03pm

"We all want playoffs..."

Not all of us...

by Dean :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 4:14pm

Thank you.

by Mikey Benny :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 10:29am

People who don't want playoffs are like Ron Paul supporters -- a small minority, but VERY LOUD.

by justanothersteve :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 11:50am

Seriously? It seems to me the playoff supporters were the loud minority, else the schools would be doing playoffs. Most college football fans I know just want their team to do good, beat their main rivals, and finish by winning a bowl game. There are only about a dozen schools any year with a serious shot at a national championship. And even in the major conferences there are schools that haven't been in that discussion for decades. Iowa State. Mississippi. Indiana. Wazoo. And when you to non-BCS schools like Wyoming and Toledo it's even less likely.

College football is about the schools' fans and boosters, and their money. Right now the fans and boosters prefer the present system. It's sportswriters and fans of no particular school who want a playoff, along with casual followers who need something big like a playoff to keep interested. But they don't pay bills. Frankly, I don't care either way. But until those who pay the bills want a playoff, it's not happening.

by zenbitz :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 3:06pm

The schools won't do a playoff until they figure out how to keep the NCAA out of the money. What fans want is not even secondary.

by Dean :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 7:56pm

The schools won't do a playoff because they know that they'd make LESS money, not more. Right now, they essentially already have 3 month playoff. They've seen firsthand that nobody gives a shit about the regular season in college basketball. TV ratings there are lower than freakin' HOCKEY! I love the NHL, but I'm not harboring any illusions there. College hoops has become 3 months of loss leaders and 63 games where they hope to make up the money at the end. A playoff would destroy college football. The schools know this.

The only one who wins on a college football playoff is ESPN - which is why they bleat about it so endlessly. They want another "event" to feed the hype machine. Sadly, most fans are simply too stupid to grasp this.

The day college football institutes a playoff is the day I stop watching.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:20pm

The big money schools don't want a playoff because the current system guarantees a championship game every season between an SEC team and the best team from {Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10}. The other members of the power conferences like the current system because they make a lot of money out of it.

The day college football institutes a playoff is the day I stop watching.

What a curious opinion to hold! I take it that you avoid watching MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA basketball playoff tournaments. I mean, this wouldn't be an opinion that magically fits only one sport and one situation, would it?

by Dean :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 10:20pm

It's only a curious opinion if you have some bizarre homogenization fetish where every sport needs to establish its champion in exactly the same manner.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 5:01pm

Speak for yourself. I for one have no desire for a playoffs. College football's unique system (regular season meaning a ton and used to be decent regional rivalry based conferences) is the only thing that gives it any interest. Otherwise it's just an inferior pro-league that I'd have no desire to watch.

by young curmudgeon :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 6:10pm

Yeah, the regular season means a ton. That's why the talking heads on ESPN were saying the other night that LSU could lose their conference championship and still be selected for the "national championship" game (so the conference championship game is meaningless), or that, if OK St loses to OK, an Alabama-LSU rematch would be a real possibility (so their regular season game meant more like a couple of ounces). And those regular season games against FCS schools that Brian Fremeau has to pretend don't even happen, explain to me again how they "mean a ton."

by Mikey Benny :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 10:31am

Yip, FSU's season was over week 4 after losing to Clemson. That's wonderful how your season can be over after losing one game early in the year. Great way to run a sport.

by dbostedo :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 6:49pm

Actually, that's why I like the current system. I realize that it's a little irrational and based on emotion, but it adds some real drama and impact to a lot of regular season games. For instance, if there were a playoff, the Alabama/LSU game likely would have meant a lot less.

Right now, that game result makes me think "Alabama lost? That's going to make it almost impossible to get to the title game." If there were a playoff, I think my thought would be "Alabama lost? Who cares - they'll still make the playoffs."

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:24pm

How many times can you think "Alabama lost - who cares?" How big do you think the hypothetical tournament would be?

Under the current system, if the two best teams in the country are both in the SEC (and it's arguable that this has been the case for the majority of the past ten years), it is far from optimal for the sport to have national titles be decided by regular season games.

by dbostedo :: Sun, 11/20/2011 - 8:59pm

Yeah, that's why I said it's a little irrational. I like the fact that it's non-optimal and open for debate. I don't want regular season games to mean less - even if their meaning is due to some sort of flaw in the system. I like the idea that for a lot of teams, one loss can knock them out of the national title picture.

And I like that late in the season, undefeated teams need to stay undefeated to get to the title game. And if they don't, it brings a bunch of 1 and 2 loss teams back into the picture. I don't want all those teams sitting back and taking it easy because they know they've already made the playoffs.

by njligernj :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 7:33pm

I do not just "speak for myself" I speak for the majority of people (a fact you know but choose to argue anyway because this is the internet ... which is fine go ahead). Obviously it's not literally true that every single person in the world wants a playoff but you are essentially just choosing to argue for the sake of arguing on that issue because you are no doubt aware of the prevailing public opinion. Regardless, this system you love (not to mention the entire NCAA) will fall apart. Just a matter of time.

As a general rule I find most people who don't support a playoff fall into two camps: 1) follow a team which is solid every year *and* in a strong conference so they don't get ignored if they have a good season (so they don't need a playoff) or 2) don't actually support any particular team (perhaps their school didn't have football). Chuck Klosterman often writes about all these "exciting" things that happen in college football (many of which are the very things I find abhorrent) because he just watches a spectacle with no rooting interest. Meanwhile the vague mostly arbitrary nonsense which makes things "exciting" to some actually impacts (usually negatively) the team I follow. This means I have little more to look forward to come November than another utterly meaningless bowl game (which my team usually wins ... but who cares). Bowl games are like "participation medals" -- distractions for morons who want to pretend they are winning something. "We won the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl! We're the champions!"

Regardless of all of that, whether you are pro-playoff or not I still do not understand this hatred of certain conferences. It's the same fan v. fan garbage we see in the pro leagues when people gleefully talk about contraction or moving teams because they've had a few bad years (in football usually suggesting a struggling team move to LA without for a second acknowledging the deep irony inherent in that suggestion); I don't understand it in college when people don't seem to care about ESPN attempting to destroy a conference. "Oh it's okay that Disney destroyed them just because they haven't been quite good enough."

Even "lesser" teams have tens if not hundreds of thousands of devoted fans who love their team as passionately as fans love a powerhouse team in a conference you deem "worthy" of AQ and wouldn't want Disney to destroy. It's one thing to have a rivalry and "hate" a team and want your team to beat them on the field; it's another thing entirely to want a team which isn't even a rival or yours to be removed and leave their fans with no chance of contention. Hell even if I didn't care for the BE, on principle alone I'd find all of this garbage distasteful.

Not to mention the old "when they came for ___ I said nothing, when they came for ___ I said nothing, when they came for me ..." rule. These things change, a decade from now maybe "your" conference falls apart and you can listen to "fans" laughing and enjoying it all because it makes watching football 5% more convenient for them.

by Mikey Benny :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 10:33am

Awesome. Awesome. I love it. Thank you for saying it... it needed to be said.

by Dean :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 7:58pm

So lets see if I have this straight. Fans that oppose a playoff either

1) are fans of a particular team, or
2) are not fans of any particular team.


by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:25pm

Methinks your parser is broken.

by Rivers McCown :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:15am

I have to admit I am a bit perplexed that the Big 12 couldn't get the Boise/BYU block for themselves. It would certainly make more geographic sense.

Heck, they could add SMU and UH too, then force the Big East to basically become Big Conference USA.

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:02pm

Yeah, I can't really get a feel on what the Big 12 is thinking, either. I've seen it reported that Boise really isn't that big a prize in terms of TV, though I'd think an exciting top-10 team would draw even if they are from a small town, but BYU has plenty of followers because of the church and they bring along a good basketball program.

I simply do not see a Big East spread out all across the country as being an idea that succeeds. Random schools with no connection to each other aren't going to excite fans and ultimately TV revenue depends on people being interested in the matchups.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:58pm

I agree. The Big East including Boise and BYU reminds me of when the CFL expanded to Shreveport, Las Vegas, and Sacramento.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 7:24pm

I'd guess the Big 12 is thinking that
1 - BYU has issues that making adding them for all sports difficult for a major conference (not playing on Sundays, demands for rebroadcast rights on BYUtv)
2 - Going with BYU would have made adding any current Big East football teams in the future (excepting never-actually-played-in-the-Big East TCU) difficult, as you'd have a rather huge east-west footprint (Provo isn't much closer than Morgantown for most Big 12 schools; Boise is farther)
3 - Boise's non-football sports don't really belong in a major conference

As for the Big East, I'm glad the Orange are leaving, since I'm not at all convinced of the viability of the 8 non-football/8 all-sports/4 football-only (3 out west + Navy) model that seems to be where they're headed. Especially since I think it's very likely that Louisville, Cinci, UConn, and one of ND or Rutgers will announce plans to leave within the next year or two (the first two to the Big 12, the second to the ACC).

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:26pm

I'm sorry, I cannot take either the Big 10 or the Big 12 seriously. These conferences are teaching a generation of kids that counting is unimportant.

by Dean :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:00am

I think UPR-Mayaguez is in serious discussions for the next bid.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 11:51am

At least it could credibly be called "east", unlike Utah and Idaho.

by Dean :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:05pm

East is relative. It's all West compared to Kamchatka State Technical University. (proposed for 2014 expansion?)

by TomKelso :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 12:27pm

I don't know-- Kamchatka's a major RISK for any conference to schedule...

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 2:18pm


by Dean :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 4:15pm

Eh, it was good, but it was pretty obvious if you have your Berings right.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 1:34pm

They should be playing Irkutsk State and Eastern Siberia U anway

by zenbitz :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 5:47pm

I still say we will end up with 4 super conferences. Either the Big East will merge with the Big 12 or one will get all it's good teams gobbled up by the other 3 super conferences.

by RickD :: Sat, 11/19/2011 - 9:39pm

All its good teams have already been gobbled up. Rutgers, UConn, Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida are not credible as national football powers.