BYU and the Big 12 are still a hot topic as the college football offseason rolls on. While it's unlikely that BYU will receive a coveted invitation anytime soon, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman has been pushing an interesting idea for the past week:
A scheduling agreement between the Big 12 and BYU.
Tramel has already written three articles on the subject. The first was written in response to a West Virginia fan floating the idea. The second was in response to a BYU fan named David Moore responding to the first article. Tramel makes his own case for a scheduling agreement in his third article. He's even made appearances on BYU Sports Nation and talked about his idea in a Lawless Republic podcast.
It goes to show you that this is interesting to at least one major college football writer in Big 12 country. Tramel is certainly going out of his way to talk about this.
So, does it make sense for both BYU and the Big 12 to come to some sort of scheduling agreement?
Tramel lists two main reasons in his latest article why such an agreement would be good for both parties. In brief, Tramel believes a scheduling agreement would allow the Big 12 schools to get to know BYU better and vice versa. Tramel even compared this to "dating and marriage" in his interview with BYU Sports Nation.
Second, Tramel states it would give the Big 12 better games. He then breaks down the Big 12's 2014 schedule week by week and points out that some weeks lack any really interesting games. Tramel claims that adding BYU into the mix in a scheduling agreement would be an upgrade.
Tramel raises some interesting points. From the Big 12's point-of-view, BYU would bring a larger TV audience than many of the non-conference opponents the Big 12 currently has on the schedule. The Cougars can also help improve the Big 12's non-conference strength of schedule.
So, how would this help BYU?
While not perfect, BYU is doing a good job scheduling as an independent. The Cougars wouldn't need to rely on such an agreement to create solid schedules. Just look at the 2015 schedule with games against Nebraska, Michigan and UCLA.
That said, BYU could benefit tremendously from such an agreement.
First, a scheduling agreement would help BYU put its foot in the door. The Big 12 doesn't appear to be looking to expand in the near future, but if another round of conference realignment arises, BYU would be in a better position to receive an invitation to the Big 12 if it already has a scheduling agreement.
There's no guarantee that such an agreement would eventually lead to an invitation, but it can't hurt BYU's chances.
Second, while BYU is doing just fine scheduling teams, a scheduling agreement would make life easier for athletic director Tom Holmoe. Let's say that BYU plays five Big 12 teams every year. That's five fewer games Holmoe has to worry about. Add one to three Pac-12 games each year and fill in the rest with Boise State and Utah State of the Mountain West and a few American Athletic teams, that's a solid schedule.
Third, this would certainly help BYU's national standing and credibility. It would help perceptions about BYU after the ACC and SEC recently said BYU doesn't count as a power opponent under new scheduling rules.
The ideal scheduling agreement for BYU would include access to the Big 12's bowl tie-ins. Notre Dame has such an agreement with the ACC.
It's unlikely that increased access to one of the big New Years Day bowls would be included. Automatic bids to those games are reserved for conference champions. BYU would probably still need to compete for an at-large bid just as it does now.
So, the Sugar Bowl would be off the table. But look at the other bowls the Big 12 has:
Alamo Bowl: No. 2 Big 12 vs. No. 2 Pac-12
Russell Athletic: No. 3 Big 12 vs. No. 2 ACC
Liberty Bowl: No. 4 Big 12 vs. No. 5 SEC
Buffalo Wild Wings: No. 5 Big 12 vs. No. 7 Pac-12
Meineke Car Care Bowl: No. 6 Big 12 vs. No. 6 SEC
Heart of Dallas Bowl: No. 7 Big 12 vs. C-USA
For comparison's sake, here's BYU's bowl tie-ins since it went independent:
2011: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Tulsa (C-USA)
2012: Poinsettia Bowl vs. San Diego State (No. 3 MWC)
2013: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Washington (No. 6 Pac-12)
2014: Miami Beach Bowl vs. American Athletic
2015: To be determined
2016: Poinsettia Bowl vs. Mountain West
2017: To be determined
2018: Poinsettia Bowl vs. Mountain West
Clearly, BYU needs any help it can get with scheduling bowl games. If a scheduling agreement includes any sort of bowl tie-in with the Big 12, the Cougars should take it.
That said, a scheduling agreement with the Big 12 wouldn't necessarily come with a bowl tie-in. After all, BYU wouldn't be a member of the Big 12 in other sports as Notre Dame is with the ACC. There would be less incentive for the conference to include BYU in its bowl tie-ins unless the conference could get more money.
All things considered, both BYU and the Big 12 can benefit from a scheduling agreement. Will it happen?
With today's unstable college football atmosphere, who can say?
Lafe Peavler is a staff sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.
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