BYU, along with its new partners, the WCC and ESPN, hosted a press conference today at Lavell Edwards stadium to officially announce football independence, as well as the alignment of other sports with the WCC. The biggest announcements to come out of the conference:
- BYU has an 8 year agreement with ESPN.
- BYU has set up a 6 game series with Notre Dame that runs through 2020.
- The WAC will provide 5 games in 2011 and 4 in 2012.
- The agreement with the WCC is “not a stepping stone” to another [BCS] conference
What does it all mean?
First, ESPN’s Dave Brown was present, and spoke regarding the ESPN-BYU partnership. He talked about the great tradition at BYU, and how BYU was instrumental in “putting ESPN on the map.” BYU played in the first live college football game televised on ESPN, where they upset then #3 Pitt. In 1990, they upset #1 Miami, in what is still the eighth highest rated regular season game since that year.
The deal with ESPN ensures continued exposure on a great television network. It also will continue to bring in significant amounts of money, and attract high-caliber teams from across the country to play home and home series with BYU. Along with the ESPN contract, BYU retains the rights to air their home games on BYUtv, even on the same day it occurs as a live event on ESPN.
When BYU independence was in the rumor mill, many Mountain West schools (as well as fans and local media) aired their opinions about this awful move, and how BYU would fail. San Diego State and Wyoming even went so far as to ask who BYU would be able to schedule, as they certainly wouldn’t be willing to play them. Well guys, stay tuned…
BYU has that new deal with Notre Dame, who is sure to see better days ahead with new head coach Brian Kelly at the helm. Six games is a huge commitment, and while the dates and details are still being hammered out, the Cougars have got to feel good about that relationship. In fact, recent deals with the likes of Notre Dame and Texas are just the sort of quality opponents that will make sure that BYU can continue to gain relevance in the national picture, despite not having a conference affiliation.
BYU will be playing home and home series with San Jose St, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and New Mexico St in 2011-12, and will host Idaho in 2011. It turns out that each had a slot to fill in the schedule that was vacated by Boise St. Despite having a WAC-heavy schedule for those two seasons, they will be balanced out by the games against Oregon St, Texas, and Notre Dame.
With rumors that BYU is also working on deals with Clemson, Texas Tech, and others, one can only guess how many other quality teams are lining up to play the new, independent Cougars. One thing’s for sure, BYU won’t be pining for San Diego State and Wyoming.