Dick Harmon: BYU, Big East speculation continues to percolate

Published: Monday, Nov. 21 2011 11:54 a.m. MST

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver JD Falslev (12) is congatulated after scoring as Brigham Young University plays New Mexico State University in football Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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PROVO — So, what is happening with BYU and the Big East?

Well, it's official that the two parties are talking. It's been reported the Big East has officially invited BYU to become a member of the BCS automatic qualifying conference, and it was projected by some that an official announcement would come last week, which never happened.

Is everything with the Big East and BYU back to that crazy Big 12 ebb and flow where everything takes a new turn almost daily? Maybe.

Only this time, from all indications, BYU and the Big East have gone deep into the briefcase and filing cabinet to reach an agreement. But predicting a timeline is a fool's errand.

I found myself in just that situation last week at a sandwich shop in Provo while dining with a friend.

First, some members of BYU's basketball coaching staff came into the restaurant. After exchanging pleasantries, a coach asked, "So, are we in the Big East?"

That echoed what their boss, Dave Rose, wanted to know last week. Rose met reporters in the Marriott Center and the first thing he asked was: "What conference are we in?"

The funny thing is, in that sandwich shop that day, BYU's baseball coaches came in a few minutes after the basketball staff did. The first thing head coach Vance Law wanted to know, after saying his hellos, was "Do you know what's going on with the Big East?"

It actually was kind of funny.

The latest is a report from the Orlando Sentinel this morning suggesting that Big East expansion talks are hung up on some last-minute details that have to do with TV contracts that may exist with potential invitees.

Reporter Iliana Limon (who first told the nation just how close BYU was to Big East membership last Tuesday morning on an Orlando radio station with Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi) wrote today that Central Florida president John Hitt is trying to hasten things up, and he wants it resolved soon.

UCF is one of the schools on the Big East's wish list, along with Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and BYU.

Hitt said Conference USA members UCF, SMU and Houston, along with MWC member Boise State, are all onboard to join the Big East, but a "variety of issues" have popped up during the past month that "have delayed a joint official announcement."

He didn't say if there was one school more difficult to deal with than any other. He painted it as an equal opportunity frustration exercise.

"I would guess it would be announced next week, but you've got a short week because of Thanksgiving," Hitt told the Sentinel. "There are just a lot of moving parts.

"Just when you think everything is set, another little question moves up involving a different school. There's an agreement in principle. And I know it's frustrating to people — I get a little frustrated myself — but it's going to happen."

Hitt said he'd just talked to SMU'S president Gerald Turner and told the Orlando newspaper both CEOs were getting a little anxious. Both these CUSA schools are ready to make an announcement and have no hangups about doing so, but they've been asked to do it together in concert with the Big East.

"We've got to do something," Hitt said. "I talked to President (Gerald) Turner over at SMU and we're getting frustrated. I'm ready to do something.

"It's better if Houston, SMU and UCF at least stay together. But I'm getting ready to do something."

The frustration is understandable.

For months, BYU fans have listened and watched BYU's name get thrown about with the Big 12. Initially, BYU was reported to be the leading candidate to be invited if the Big 12 moved to replace Texas A&M.

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