Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Winners and Losers

With the dust now settling from the first volleys of conference realignment, its time to assess the winners and losers. 

Winners (in order)
1. University of Utah--the move to the PAC-10 improves the image of the school athletically and academically by association.  The athletic budget stands to gain $9-10M per year more than they currently get in the MWC.  Recruiting (especially in CA, OR, and WA) should improve as recruits want to go to a school that A) has a chance for a auto bid and national title, and B) play annually in front of home town friends and family.
2. Nebraska--moving to the Big Ten gives them conference stability, a meaningful financial increase (though not as much as Utah), and more prestige.
3. Boise State--although the financial windfall will not be as great as Utah or Nebraska, Boise will reap an additional $2-3M per year in the MWC over the WAC.  It also associates with universities of a higher caliber, which is incredible for a school that was a junior college just a generation or so ago.  Admissions and academics also stand to improve as much from this move as the level of competition.
4. Big East--Although there may still be moves to come from the Big Ten, at least for now the Big East is breathing a sigh of relief and shelving the survival plans as it has managed to avoid the doomsday scenarios that had it being cherry picked into oblivion.
5. Big Ten--Thanks to the PAC 10's public coup on the Big Ten's best, Nebraska turned to the open arms of the Big Ten for comfort and security.  The Big Ten in return gets an upgrade over the rumored alternative in Missouri, and now sits at a comfortable 12.
6. PAC 10--Although some insist that Larry Scott and the PAC 10 have some egg on the very public failure to lure Texas, et al., I believe that the conference knew it wanted at least Utah and Colorado and decided to make a run at something better, with the former as a comfortable backstop in case the plan didn't work.  No harm done and I say kudos to a bold and proactive approach.  The conference will now be able to stage a championship game and adjust scheduling somewhat to eliminate a few intra-conference losses that seem to sink any hopes of a second BCS bid year after year.  The conference also moves east and finally breaks beyond the scheduling limitations of the Pacific time zone.
7. Colorado--Colorado gets a nod here for finding the home that it wanted.  Otherwise, all in, I would say it is about a wash.  The PAC 10, financially, will not be much different than the Big 12 and the television visibility will be worse (although Colorado isn't on TV that much anyway); however, the university (both athletically and academically) will improve in prestige and will have more equal representation in a non-Texas dominated conference.
8. The state of Utah--with the state's flagship university now affiliated with the PAC 10, it is a validation of sorts for the community that it is accepted and respected on a national level.  The state will also see some budgetary savings due to the significant increases in television funding from the new conference affiliation.

Losers (in order)
1. BYU--Despite what anyone says, Cougar fans and administrators have been holding out hope for a PAC 10 invite for decades.  To see it go to your chief rival, and relative new kid on the block, while being left behind is a demoralizing blow.  And although yet to be fully understood, there may be detrimental effects on the program as Utah improves its recruiting base, funding, facilities, etc.  BYU knew that it would likely not end up in the PAC 10 but was hoping for a seat at the table somewhere when everything settled down.  That didn't happen.
2. WAC--The WAC loses Boise State, its only legitimate national player of the last several years.  The loss jeopardizes its TV contract with ESPN, its standing as the number 8 conference (just above CUSA), and at least one of its bowl games. 
3. Big 12--While the teams that remain managed to right the ship, and there are rumors of more lucrative television deals in the works, the conference took a major hit to is national perception, prestige, and stability.  The losses of Colorado and Nebraska will hurt television prospects, and at least with Nebraska, national relevance in football.  Dan Beebe (the conference commissioner) also comes out of this looking a bit inept, weak, and reactionary rather than proactive.
4. Fans of the BYU-Utah Rivalry--After more than 100 years of competing for the same conference championship each time these teams took the field, that will come to an end.  They will likely continue to play each other annually, probably in every sport, but it will be preseason, non-conference, and less on the line.  Thanksgiving weekend won't be quite the same without it.
5. MWC--With a BCS auto bid in sight and the addition of Boise, the MWC was poised to become a major player.  The great intermountain void (only states with D1 programs and no BCS bid) on the BCS map (Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico) seemed destined to be filled by the MWC.  With Utah (the most populous of those five states) now removed from that equation, the chances have to be diminished somewhat, even if still alive.
6. Utah State--With BYU and Utah now likely to be scheduling annual out of conference games, it is possible that Utah State may be the odd man out and see it without its annual tilts with its in-state rivals.  This would be unfortunate for everyone, and may relieve USU of its only guaranteed sellout of the season.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Year Recap and Summer Reading List

At some point over the last couple of weeks, the readership of this column hit 20,000. I will make it a habit to mention from time to time when we hit various milestones. I would also like to mention that you can subscribe to the RSS feed directly from www.byucougs.com, as dozens of you already do, and have new content delivered right to your inbox.

In honor of our first year covering BYU football for Phil Steele, and in light of a dearth of any college football news outside of realignment, I am reposting the links to the top five most popular stories from this site over the last year. These articles have been picked up by national and local news organizations, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS, Rivals, Scout, and dozens of others as well as scores of fan sites and other blogs. The top 5 in order:

1. Oct 22, 2009 Updated Comparison of Conference TV Contracts

2. Feb 11, 2010 Numbers Behind PAC-10 Expansion: What it Means to the MWC

3. Dec 19, 2009 Recruiting Lag: A Look at Contributions by Class

4. Sep 2, 2009 Numbers Inside the Missionary Advantage

5. Apr 23, 2010 Official BCS Conference Standings… Finally

6. (Bonus) Dec 28, 2009 A Rebuttal of Vegas Bowl Excuses

These rankings are based purely upon the number of people that have read these articles. If there are other columns from this site that you feel are worthy of summer reading but didn’t make the above cut, let us know!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Realignment Preferences

If you are reading this then you have probably noticed the lack of articles over the last several weeks.  I'll probably continue to be off and on for a few more weeks until mid-summer. 

And, with conference realignment the only topic of the day (and a tired one at that), and having already said about all I have to say on that matter (see conference expansion topic at right), I am waiting with you to see how it will all play out.    If I could prioritize my preferences for Cougar football:

1.  PAC-10--The rivalries and BYU's fanbase footprint line up nicely with the PAC 10's current membership.  This would be a great scenario for BYU, although not going to happen.  1% chance.

2.  MWC with AQ status--This is the best possible outcome from my perspective, with a probability that falls somewhere between very possible and likely.  75% chance.

3.  Big 12--Should BYU be a replacement for Nebraska or Missouri (possibly leaving for the Big 10) in the B12 as it is currently situated (with Texas, etc), it would be a good financial and social move for the Cougs, but bad for the fans.  Do I really want to see them play Iowa State?  Baylor?  Am I going to go to those road games?  Outside of the Texas areas, there are significantly fewer Cougar fans in B12 country than in P10.  And, the destinations aren't as good (imagine nostalgia for Las Vegas, San Diego, and Colorado Springs).  This is a real possibility--and one that many Cougar fans may even be hoping for.  25% chance.