BYU took themselves out of the musical chairs hysteria that was realignment with the start of the 2011 season as a football independent. When doing so, they adopted the Notre Dame model. If one religious private institution could schedule their own football games why not BYU?
Now that BYU enters its sixth season as a football independent, it is starting to be clear that scheduling 12 games every year is a lot of work. Keep in mind, the College Football Playoff was not part of the decision criteria in 2010 to leave the Mountain West. Now that Bob Bowlsby has opened up the qualified application floodgates heading out of Big 12 Media Days last week, BYU is making it known loud and clear it wants in.
Personally, I understand the pros very well to the BYU Cougars. However, as a K-State fan I have never been that thrilled of the prospect of BYU coming to our league. Call it sour grapes from a certain Cotton Bowl that was supposed to cap off a great 1996 season if you will, but I know that someway K-State will be put in a division with BYU and West Virginia. Yes I am paranoid. Yes I know I will not be making that decision, but would you be surprised if you are reading this as fan of the other nine (or 11) schools? After all, decision-making has not necessarily been this conference’s strong suit in the past decade. Dealing with two conference outposts is not appealing to me. I would rather fill in between the original outpost WVU, than to create the same problem all over again.
On the flip side, I do believe BYU deserves an equitable shot at the College Football Playoff. So my advice? Continue to follow the Notre Dame model! Yes, you read that right. In 2013 Notre Dame signed a 12-year scheduling deal with the ACC. This gives Notre Dame five ACC opponents on the schedule every year for that run. So I propose that BYU and the Big 12 reach a deal that guarantees six annual games with BYU for the non-conference portion of the schedules.
In the current setup, television partners can sell five Big 12 games for each of the nine weeks that schools play each other. Thus, a 45 conference game inventory. Let us assume that the Big 12 adds two other teams in this current round of “conference composition” and revert back to eight game regular seasons. That ends up six Big 12 games for eight weeks, extending the inventory to 48 (and 49th for a Championship game). With the BYU scheduling alliance, ESPN would not have to worry about Friday night games for some of BYU’s games, and in essence add six more compelling games to the Big 12 inventory for a total of 55. I am sure someone smarter than me could figure out how to intersperse the BYU games throughout the 12 game seasons too.
Heck, I think it would even be worth it to allow BYU with a 10 plus win total to have access to one of the Big 12’s better bowls if it warrants it, maybe Alamo Bowl access? That would help out years like last year in order that match-ups square up a little better for some team. But this keeps BYU from ever winning a conference championship and having to deal with a playing on Sunday situation. No non-revenue sports teams have to make Wednesday night trips to Provo.
This set up would allow all 12 teams to feel like BYU was in “the other division” for home and home series, as opposed to if they were in the league one division having to account for ridiculous travel in addition to WVU. So, in two-year blocks, one division could have home and home series with BYU in the non-con, and the next two-year block the other division could have home and home in their non-con. It would take care of half of BYU’s scheduling annually as well as help the current Big 12 teams who have three non-con opponents scheduled right now, fill out that fourth spot in moving to four non-cons.