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BYU football: Fans supportive if Cougars go independent

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 2:55 a.m. MDT

BYU fans cheer during the ESPN Game Day broadcast near LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo during the 2009 season. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) BYU fans cheer during the ESPN Game Day broadcast near LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo during the 2009 season. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO — News that BYU could bolt the Mountain West Conference and declare football independence was greeted enthusiastically by BYU football fans on their university's campus Wednesday afternoon.

Across the board, fans who were interviewed at the Wilkinson Center and at the BYU Bookstore said it was a good idea for BYU to make the bold decision to leave the MWC and attempt to go it alone.

"I think it's a great idea," said Ron Allen, 65, Salt Lake City. "It'll allow us to play some top teams in the nation."

Allen was one of several BYU fans to spontaneously mention the words "Notre" and "Dame" on Wednesday, and he hopes BYU can follow in the model of Notre Dame, which is one of only three FBS schools in the NCAA to compete independently in football.

"I think Notre Dame has done real well as an independent, and so I think if we can follow their tracks, we'll have some success," he said, before quickly adding: "But we can't mess around."

Mark Bernards, 31, Orem, echoed those sentiments. Bernards called the idea of going independent "an awesome" one while also acknowledging the potential pitfalls of such a move.

"There's always risks," said Bernards. "You have to make a lot more money to be able to go independent. You're not guaranteed money if another school makes it to the BCS or something like that, so there's financial risks.

"(But) they've already got the TV worked out, so I think they'll be alright."

Numerous reports suggest a deal may be in the works for ESPN to broadcast BYU football games if the school indeed opts to turn independent, with BYU-TV, the university's own TV channel, poised to potentially show games, as well.

Clearly, easier TV access to BYU football would be heartily welcomed by BYU fans who have had to deal with The mtn. and its myriad of distribution issues since 2006.

"It would be a good idea (to go independent) if we can get better TV coverage," said Robert Swenson, 24, Lindon. "I think it's been hard that, living right next to BYU, I can't always see the BYU games because I don't have the right cable channel."

If the fans on campus Wednesday are any indication, though, Cougar supporters will continue to follow their school's tradition-laden football team regardless of what channel it's on or conference affiliation it carries.

"I think BYU can handle it independent. I think they're a very strong team and they know what they're doing," said Ashley Dewey, 22, St. David, Ariz. "If they make that choice, I think it's a good choice.

"(But) if they stay, I'll support them either way."

e-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com

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