PROVO — While the future of the Big 12 appears to be teetering on a precarious precipice, it's worth noting that BYU owns a rich, colorful history against current members of that league.
The Cougars face yet another Big 12 team when they visit Texas Saturday (5 p.m. MT, ESPN2). It's the first of a three-game series between the two programs that will continue in 2013 in Provo and 2014 in Austin.
"I think it's great," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said of matching up with Texas. "If you're talking about playing on big stages in front of a lot of people and getting the exposure necessary, there's not many bigger than that."
The timing of Saturday's contest against the Longhorns could not be more ironic. There's been plenty of speculation, both locally and nationally, in recent weeks about the possibility of the Cougars joining the Big 12, which currently has 10 members.
Some have billed this contest as an opportunity for BYU to show that it belongs in that BCS conference.
The Cougars, who just kicked off their inaugural season as an independent, have been viewed as a possible replacement for Texas A&M, which is looking join the Southeastern Conference starting next season — although Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State is doing everything it can to prevent Texas A&M from leaving and keep the league together.
Oklahoma officials have stated that the Sooners are looking at their options, and could move to the Pac-12 with Oklahoma State. If the two Oklahoma schools leave, that could mark the death knell of the Big 12. Texas could either join the Pac-12, too, or it could go independent, like BYU. Or maybe the Big 12 decides to stay together and invites the Cougars. BYU and Texas have long-term broadcasting contracts with ESPN and boast their own TV networks (BYUtv and the Longhorn Network, respectively).
Mendenhall was asked this week how his team would fare playing a Big 12 schedule. "It's hard to say having not done it, but I believe we would do and compete very well every week," he said. "What our win-loss record would be, I don't know. But I think we'd compete very well."
The record book shows that the Cougars are 12-14 all-time against current Big 12 opponents. More impressively, they are 8-3 against Big 12 foes since 1980.
It might shock many around the country to learn that the Cougars have a combined 4-0 record against mighty Texas and Oklahoma. On the other hand, they're 0-4 all-time against lowly Iowa State (the last meeting with the Cyclones was in 1974).
Beyond the mere win-loss records, though, are the stories behind many of those games.
BYU's first two bowl games were against Oklahoma State (both losses) in 1974 and 1976.
The Cougars' first win over a ranked team on the road was against Texas A&M in 1979.
The dramatic come-from-behind victory over Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl will always be remembered for the game-winning touchdown scored by quarterback Steve Young after catching a halfback pass.
Baylor handed the Cougars their only loss in 1983 in an 11-1 season.
One of BYU's 13 wins in its march to the 1984 national championship was against Baylor.
The only time BYU has played on Christmas Day was in 1992 against Kansas in the Aloha Bowl.
Legendary coach LaVell Edwards' first career victory — the first of 257 — came against Kansas State, in 1972.
Twenty-four years later, BYU played, and won, its first, and only New Year's Day game, in the Cotton Bowl, by rallying from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat K-State.
BYU made national headlines in 2009 by knocking out defending Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, and then knocking off then-No. 3 Oklahoma, in the first game played at billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium.
Cougar wide receiver McKay Jacobson, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in that upset against the Sooners, is from Texas and has followed the Longhorns, as well as Big 12 football in general, for years.
"I liked watching all of the Big 12 teams play and it was fun watching them growing up," Jacobson said. "A lot of the big-time recruits (in Texas) go to Texas or Oklahoma. There's just a lot of tradition and history. They've been successful for many, many years."
Jacobson, who spent time as a youth attending football camps at Texas, added that playing at 100,000-seat Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will be a thrill. "It definitely means a lot. I would always watch those local games on TV."
Playing at Texas, Jacobson said is "always been something I've wanted to do."
Many BYU fans would love to see their team play teams like Texas and Oklahoma on a regular basis, as members of the Big 12. Do the Cougars deserve the opportunity to be part of a BCS conference?
"Hopefully our body of work would say yes," said BYU center Terence Brown. "That's what I would hope. But you never know."
Cougars on the air
BYU (1-0) at
No. 24 Texas (1-0)
Saturday, 5 p.m. MT
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
BYU vs. the Big 12
The Cougars have played respectably against the current members of the Big 12 Conference. Here's how BYU has fared all-time against those teams:
Oklahoma State 0-2
Kansas State 4-4
Texas A&M 2-1
Texas Tech 0-1
Iowa State 0-4