BYU FOOTBALL FUTURE MAY BE BLEAK

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Some fighting between Brigham Young and the Memphis Tigers breaks out following the NCAA football game at the Miami Beach Bowl, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. At front is Kai Nacua (12) of Brigham Young.

When LGBT lobbyists succeeded in getting the National Basketball Association to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina, it could be surmised that the trickle-down effect would expand to other entities under the PC microscope.

That bodes trouble for Brigham Young University’s football and athletic program.

In terms of football and basketball success and prestige, BYU remains as qualified as any candidate to join one of the ‘Power Five’ conferences, and considered throughout the summer as a top candidate  to join the Big XII Conference.

For geographic and athletic reasons, the University of Houston and University of Cincinnati have jumped to the top of most projections. Houston is a major city with likely support from the conferences six Texas and Oklahoma entries. Cincinnati is also a media market and gives the University of West Virginia a geographic partner.

These two schools could be added and the Big XII could rightfully say it is nothing personal against BYU’s policies.

But it does not help that lobbyists have predictably targeted against BYU and have lobbied against against the Mormon school’s Big XII inclusion.

Than what?

BYU could swallow its pride, point towards its unique brand and following and continue its existence as a ‘mid-major.’

But the situation could get worse before it gets better. In year number six as an independent, football scheduling has become more difficult – especially in bringing quality opponents for home games. The 2016 schedule at LaVell Edwards Stadium includes the following.

  • Sept. 17 v. UCLA
  • Sept 30 v. Toledo (Friday night/LDS conference weekend)
  • Oct. 14 v. Mississippi State
  • November home games against FCS Southern Utah, fellow independent Massachusetts and Utah State.

Other than getting UCLA along with a SEC team smack in the middle of their conference season, there is little to offer. 2017 includes home dates with Utah, Wisconsin and Boise State while Cal highlights four home games slated so far for 2018.

BYU’s next ‘hope’ to land in a major conference could come if the college football landscape shifts to four 16-team conferences in the mid 2020s. But would the ‘Pac-16’ or Big Ten show interest in the Cougars then? History says no.

At some point BYU could attempt to crawl back to the Mountain West, where Boise State can provide a legitimate rival. But if lobbyists can keep the school out of the Big XII, why not lobby against the MWC, Sun Belt or any other conference.

The politics can expand to those who schedule BYU non-conference. Would it be a shock if Wisconsin decided to take a second look at its scheduled home-and-home for 2017-18? Wisconsin already has a policy not to schedule schools with politically incorrect names.

As an independent BYU gets automatic bids to various bowls provided the team is bowl eligible. In 2016 the Cougars would earn a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, last year the school played in the Las Vegas Bowl. But could bowl games shun BYU in future years? The football team’s conduct in a postgame brawl v. Memphis after a bowl game in 2014 serves as a black mark.

It may not seem fair. Notre Dame’s culture could be viewed in a simila vain, a dozen compared to BYU’s 12. But Notre Dame established itself as a major football brand more than 100 years ago. No one is going to kick the Irish out now.

In recent years sports was surprisingly dropped at BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Idaho (which once had a strong JUCO program). Ten years from now, the end game may see BYU’s flagship campus dropping football and remaining with like-minded schools in the West Coast Conference in other sports.

Unthinkable, but possible.

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