Doug Robinson: BYU sold out other sports for football's independence

Published: Tuesday, April 12 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

The BYU women's track team has finished in the top 10 of the national championship meet 18 times while also producing six Olympians and 81 All-Americans. The men's team can boast of more than 60 All-Americans and a number of Olympians and/or NCAA champions in distance running such as Doug Padilla, Henry Marsh, Paul Cummings, Ed Eyestone, Jason Pyrah and recent NCAA mile champ Miles Batty. Between the men's and women's teams, BYU has won more than 90 indoor and outdoor conference championships.

But starting next spring, they won't even be able to compete for an outdoor conference championship.

The football team doesn't even win in this deal. The Cougars are going to have to replace regional rivals (and steady victories) with a constant lineup of heavyweight opponents to appease the people who own their TV contract, ESPN. Be careful what you wish for. Next season the Cougars have road games at Ole Miss, Texas, Oregon State and Hawaii, and home games against Utah, Central Florida and TCU. The schedules for the following seasons are still being filled, but already they have dates with Boise State, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame.

Fans might have to decide if it's more fun beating up on regional rivals for 10 or so wins a year, or playing ranked teams regularly and winning only six or seven games. By going independent, the Cougars have actually made the task of cracking a BCS bowl more difficult, not easier.

You could make the same argument against the University of Utah's move to the Pac 12 (and I have). If both Utah and BYU had been more patient, they could have been part of a Mountain West Conference that wound up attracting Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State. TCU probably would not have fled to the Big East. All of these teams combined could have presented a lineup that was formidable enough to win acceptance as a BCS conference.

It's all about the money now.

email: drob@desnews.com

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