SALT LAKE CITY — So now we hear the BYU Cougars are on the verge of returning to the Mountain West Conference, right back from where they came.
Talk about chasing your tail.
It's a lot like the episode of "Seinfeld," where Costanza tells off his boss and storms out. But over the weekend, he starts to regret the move and returns to work on Monday, as though he had just been blowing off steam.
Boss: "Is that Costanza over there? What are you doing here?"
Boss: "Am I crazy, or didn't you quit?"
Costanza: "Oh, what? What? That? Are you kidding? I didn't quit. What? You took that seriously?"
Less than two weeks after news broke that BYU was planning to go independent and join the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports, a Denver Post report said Thursday that BYU could well end up where it started — in the trusty Mountain West.
But if it happens, BYU will be glad for the security of a conference and the ensuing scheduling benefits. At the same time, the MWC will have a new appreciation for the team whose TV ratings and attendance are traditionally the highest in the league.
If agreed upon, the reunion would end — either permanently or temporarily — some of the strangest days in the history of BYU athletics. For decades, the program was a bastion of stable athletic success. In most ways, that's still the case.
At the same time, it didn't take much to see the Cougars were pulling more than their share of weight in the MWC, yet were getting the same TV share as, say, UNLV. So BYU started looking around and planning its move toward independence. But to the Cougars' chagrin, the MWC countered by adding Nevada and Fresno State, drastically changing the picture. BYU had thought it would be playing Nevada and Fresno State regularly to help fill out its independent schedule.
Meanwhile, BYU said it was unhappy with its TV deal and planned to do so much more. The conference said it wouldn't allow BYU to exist as a non-football member.
Seemed like a stalemate, or more accurately, a standoff.
But if cool heads and creative financing prevail, they'll be back together within the week. Which would be fine with me; I'm tired of wondering.
Besides, I actually like reconciliations. In 1980, The Eagles broke up. Asked when they might reconcile, former band member Don Henley had told a reporter: "When Hell freezes over."
Turned out to be the theme of their next album. So there you go.
Breakups and makeups occur all the time. It's the American way. Remember before the 2008 elections, when Hillary and Obama were at one another's throats? Once Obama got the nomination, they were suddenly chatting and smiling, even clasping hands in the victory grip.
Independence was an ambitious but risky plan, one that had potential for big financial rewards for BYU. At first, I was all for it. But that was before it became obvious BYU would have to book 12 opponents a year instead of a handful, and that the remainder of the WAC might well fall apart. And before I started counting the number of non-football sports in the West Coast Conference and compared it with the number at BYU. They don't match up.
Being independent without a concrete commitment from other schools is a scary place. For now, the Cougars are better off sticking with the devil they know than the devil they don't.
Beat Boise State, TCU and Utah every year, they'll be fine. Get to a BCS bowl and they'll even do fine financially.
Admittedly, things have been bumpy, and getting back together after all that has happened would be awkward. But nothing is as awkward as two bye weeks and a game against Eastern Washington in November.
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