Dick Harmon: BYU, Big 12 interest draws plenty of speculation

Published: Monday, Sept. 26 2011 8:00 p.m. MDT

Through private donations, BYU has built a TV broadcast facility worth more than $100 million. It will not become a paperweight on campus. This is a prime reason such talk of BYU doing away with intercollegiate athletics on a high level is silly. BYU is one of only a few that can pull off independence, and its TV technological capabilities are a decade ahead of the University of Texas right now.

BYU left the MWC primarily because the league's TV partner, Comcast, and other presidents did not want BYUtv to rebroadcast games. It would be highly hypocritical for BYU to let the Big 12 restrict that after leaving the MWC because of it.

Remember, this is a league that does not like one of its members making demands or getting a foot up. Already, the way Texas has operated in that league, getting its own way, is cause for all the rift and destabilization.

This is an issue for the Big 12 with BYU. Can BYU make such demands? Yes, it can.

But remember, this is a group of league presidents in the Big 12 who have already had some of their coaches whine about the age of some of BYU's football players due to two-year missions.

The Big 12 is a league of tender feelings, trust issues, jealousy and gang hissy fits as a very arrogant and powerful University of Texas towers over all with its $300 million deal with ESPN for the Texas Longhorn Network. Texas will not share its gold.

Only last week, one of the Big 12's best-connected sportswriters, Barry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman, had BYU as the No. 1 expansion candidate in a list that included TCU, Louisville, West Virginia and Boise State.

In Tramel's list of pluses for BYU, he listed large fan base, a good tradition and, as an independent, most readily available. As minuses, he listed a Texas-like reputation in getting along within a league.

And this is true. Many times in the MWC, BYU would talk like Texas. It bugged folks at Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico. But BYU had clout, ticket numbers, the fan base, ratings and championships; others did not.

BYU gets one chance to get its way in a new league — protect itself. This is it.

If you're selling a prized car, you don't discount price if nice rims or a stereo are taken off, you certainly don't announce the step-by-step of dialogue so every Tom, Dick and Harry can chime in. Some in the Big 12 have done this, both last summer and now, and at times have looked the fool.

So, in conclusion, if you hear reports out of Texas or Oklahoma that BYU is not interested in the Big 12, it is only an interpretation of BYU negotiating its talking points.

If the Big 12 wants BYU in its league, it will find a way to get it done. If BYU receives what it demands, it will be in the Big 12.


Only three people know the very latest on a daily basis of an ever-changing issue: President Cecil O. Samuelson, vice president Kevin Worthen and athletic director Tom Holmoe.

They are not talking.


The art of negotiation.

EMAIL: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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