BYU football: Cougars weigh independence; other sports in WAC
"It all comes as a surprise. I knew they were exploring possibilities, but I didn't think a whole lot about it. I don't know what's going on yet," said Edwards, who guided the Cougars from 1972-2000. "One thing I do know — they're not a bunch of dummies up there (at BYU). I'm sure they've done their due diligence in whatever they decide. I like things status quo. I don't know. But times are different now."
Trevor Matich, who was the center on BYU's 1984 national championship team and is now an ESPN commentator, said he would be thrilled at the prospect of the Cougars going independent.
"If it happens, I'd leap for joy because BYU's built itself to the point that it's a national program that's consistently winning," he said.
Of course, there are pros and cons to going independent.
"The upside is so high and the downside is really risky," Matich said. "The upside is, BYU's a national program. This would allow them to market games to bigger networks, and use BYU-TV, which is huge. Texas is looking at starting its own network. BYU's already got it. BYU would increase its footprint dramatically and potentially increase its cash flow as well, if they can monetize it the right way. BYU's won at least 10 games the past four years, but you can't see them on TV. There's more potential upside, especially with Utah leaving the Pac-10 … you can't afford to be second-fiddle in your own state."
On the downside, BYU, as an independent, would no longer have a conference championship to play for.
"And what if there were four 16-team superconferences created?" Matich said. "That would affect scheduling and make it tough for BYU. It's really complex. There could be some unforeseen complications. And we don't know what the BCS is going to do."
BCS executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN he has spoken to Holmoe about whether the BCS presidents and chancellors would allow BYU automatic qualifying access similar to the deal the BCS has with Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish become an automatic selection if it wins nine games and is ranked in the top eight in the final standings. Army and Navy do not have that kind of deal.
Hancock said the BCS schools would "thoughtfully consider any request that comes in. Every school is eligible to be considered by a bowl for at-large selection if it is ranked in the top 14."
According to sources, ESPN could partner with BYU to help facilitate this move to independence, particularly with scheduling and broadcasting games.
ESPN spokesman Michael Humes told the Deseret News that "as part of the process described in (BYU's) statement, BYU initiated a discussion with ESPN. The conversation will remain private."
Contributing: Jared Eborn
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