Dick Harmon: BYU's football focus should stay on the here and now

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 3:00 p.m. MDT

Until the Big 12 figures out what it wants to do as far as possible expansion, BYU's football program can't be too concerned about the likes of Texas and coach Mack Brown, center, seen watching  his team's game against Florida Atlantic during a game last year.        (Associated Press) Until the Big 12 figures out what it wants to do as far as possible expansion, BYU's football program can't be too concerned about the likes of Texas and coach Mack Brown, center, seen watching his team's game against Florida Atlantic during a game last year. (Associated Press)

PROVO — Despite BYU's reluctance to discuss its role in a potential revamped Big 12, there are plenty of folks doing the talking for them.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has made it very clear the past week: He hasn't had any talks with the Big 12 about potential membership in the BCS conference if Texas A&M bolts for the SEC.

Holmoe has taken a firm stance that BYU's focus — at this time — is making independence in football and a WCC partnership in other sports work as planned.

That is exactly the tone BYU needs to take when nothing is certain; A&M hasn't bolted yet, the Big 12 isn't in expansion mode and Texas politicians haven't had their turn cannibalizing the issue yet.

If Holmoe put himself in front of the parade, he'd look silly.

Still, as Holmoe likes to point out, the media continues to examine the issue and BYU's potential role in it without any concrete evidence of the Big 12 reshuffling its roster. So far it's only been media talk.

Holmoe said quotes about expansion and BYU are not coming from athletic directors, presidents or Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebee.

That is basically true.

But they are coming from reporters who talk to those folks off the record.

Most of the media mentions of BYU and the Big 12 came after Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebee made this statement last Sunday:

"We're active in looking at what we're going to do next. We're not just in a holding pattern. We're making plans for all sorts of alternative situations that may present themselves. I think we would be derelict in our duties if we didn't.

"I think 10 seems to be the number our folks are real excited about maintaining, and we feel we have an attractive group of institutions that might be attractive to others to consider."

That's when speculation started by the media. USA Today's veteran college expert Steve Wieberg said this week the most widespread speculation of a potential new Big 12 member is BYU.

In August, these kinds of foot tracks by the press are unavoidable, regardless of Holmoe's non-participation in the speculation tent.

Many Cougar fans monitoring this issue warn that this BYU administration does not want to be remembered as the one that "stumbled" and kept the school out of a BCS league. They take Holmoe's refusal to speculate as non-interest and are ticked off.

It is interesting, however, that BYU's wise refusal to talk is met with plenty of voices in Big 12 territory pitching its brand around for them.

In a column by Jim Weber at Lostletterman.com, he makes fun of the Houston Chronicle idea that the University of Houston would be considered by the Big 12 when and if A&M leaves.

Weber says there are three Big 12 expansion candidates that are no-brainers: BYU, TCU and Boise State.

"It's painfully obvious that the best option to join the Big 12 should be BYU," claimed Weber. "The Cougars have a national fan base and have proven that with their own TV station and long-term TV deal with ESPN. BYU is starting its first year as an independent but, if the Big 12 allows BYU the freedom to have its own TV network like Texas and the ability to broadcast some of its games on ESPN instead of FOX, there's no reason this relationship can't work if the Big 12 can sell BYU on being a stable conference."

Tim Cowlishaw, of the Dallas Morning News, said the Big 12 should expand immediately, just get it done in the wake of Nebraska leaving last year.

"The Big 12 should be locking up Brigham Young and one other team right now. Assuming there's no chance of getting TCU to escape its trip to the Big East, Houston, SMU and others would happily jump their contracts to gain admission," wrote the Texan.

In the Oklahoman, veteran columnist Barry Tramel wrote last Monday it is time the Big 12 courted BYU. Under a headline that read: "Brigham Young might be what Big 12 needs," Tramel asserted: "BYU is a bonafide football school. Lavell Edwards Stadium seats 64,000, and the Cougars fill them. BYU has a national following, thanks to the Mormon Church, and even has its own network. BYUtv is on a bunch of cable systems (Cox included), which is more than you can say for the Longhorn Network.

"The Cougars also play good football. They beat the Sooners on a neutral field just two Septembers ago."

Tom Dienhart, the college football senior writer at Rivals.com, painted the Big 12 choices in case of expansion as few. He mentioned BYU first.

"BYU may be the only 'big' name the Big 12 would have a chance of luring. The Cougars begin play as an independent this fall in football. Perhaps BYU's biggest motivating factor for joining the Big 12 would be to find a better home for its other sports."

There are a myriad of other sportswriter types I could quote, but the point is made: BYU is a topic of discussion in Big 12 circles either formally or informally as this issue goes forward.

Some have suggested this A&M to the SEC deal is a car going 85 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone and the SEC put a speed bump in the road.

But it wasn't a roadblock.

Meanwhile, BYU is poised to deliver its goal of independence: exposure. In a talk with BYUtv managing director Derek Marquis this week, he cited the comments of an ESPN executive on just how much coverage BYU football would receive this season.

"When Dave Brown was here from ESPN, he said he thought it was safe to say that BYU will have at least equal coverage and probably more coverage than any other team in college football this year," said Marquis. "Think about that statement. That is incredible; likely as much or more national coverage than any other team in college football. The other team he said that might be up there with BYU as far as national coverage goes is Notre Dame, interestingly another independent."

Not a bad gig for the present.

Once again, we have a very interesting August.

EMAIL: dharmon@desnews.com

twitter: harmonwrites

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