The world of college football keeps changing, and further conference realignment remains an option. However, adding BYU to the Big 12 which is still a ten-team conference doesn’t seem to be something we’re going to see in the near future.
Why? It simply doesn’t make sense for the Big 12. Despite head coach Bronco Mendenhall saying he’d love to see the Cougars in the Big 12, things don’t work that way. BYU have the resources, athletic level and market size which goes beyond just Utah to be in a power five conference. However, they have no connection to the main recruiting bastions of the Big 12, and geographically it doesn’t make sense.
Yes, sometimes it’s not just about money (although money will be an issue here as well). The Big 12, after losing four teams, stretched out East to add West Virginia, who have been struggling in their two years since leaving the Big East. It’s not just a different level of football or a decline in quality for the Mountaineers, not being able to replace the great players they’ve lost. West Virginia are out of reach, stranded too far East at the moment compared to the rest of the conference.
So suddenly stretching out West will make things even weirder and more difficult – for everyone, but especially for West Virginia and BYU, suddenly having one more place on the map that’s an extremely long travelling distance for two schools that should suffer from what some might call “The New Kid on the Block” syndrome, that has differing effects with no real common ground to analyse it even further.
And there’s money, of course. An interesting post by Mike Davis on Sports Politico suggests it was a sin (our words, not his) that the Big 12 was even formed in the way that it had. It didn’t make sense for too many teams, and most of it happened thanks to the political power of Texas legislators who got involved way too much than they should have, creating a hybrid that wasn’t as successful as it should have been, eventually falling apart.
Ten teams, at least at the moment, is the best thing for the Big 12. It also gives them the best value per product they can hope to achieve unless they’re able to bring in new schools from the East: There’s been the constant talk of Florida State leaving at some point or North Carolina, who both seem happy at the moment with the ACC. Out West? The Big 12 has other areas to pursue, while BYU, who deserve a Power Five conference berth, will have to look for an invitation from somewhere else.