BYU's road through independence has included plenty of discussion about the possibility of joining a Power 5 conference. On Monday, the Big 12 Conference announced it will stay at 10 members, closing the door on expansion.
Here's a look back at the past six years as BYU has played as an independent in football, all while searching for a power conference home.
BYU announces its football program will go independent after being in the Mountain West Conference since 1999 and join the West Coast Conference in 12 other sports, effective June 30, 2011.
Immediately, the recognition that making a mark on the national stage in football will be a challenge without a conference affiliation is made by then-head football coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Earlier that summer, Nebraska and Colorado agreed to leave the Big 12, with the Cornhuskers going to the Big Ten and the Buffaloes to the Pac-12. Utah also left the Mountain West Conference to join Colorado in the Pac-12. This begins a string of changes to the conference, which currently has 10 members.
Responding to the notion that Power 5 teams won't want to schedule the Cougars, Mendenhall tells the Austin American-Statesman in Texas that BYU would "love to be in the Big 12."
At the time, all indications were that the Big 12 had no interest in expanding.
NCAA ruling states that conferences do not need to have 12 teams in order to hold a conference championship game. This factor had been a primary point for those arguing in favor of the Big 12 expanding, as a championship game is seen as necessary for conferences wanting a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Having been hired as the head coach at the University of Virginia two months earlier, Mendenhall said during a radio appearance that BYU's independence is "not sustainable."
At a meeting of Big 12 athletic directors and coaches, research is presented which indicates that the conference would increase its chances of making the CFP if it expands to 12 teams.
Multiple reports indicate that the Big 12 is not planning expansion this summer.
The Big 12 sends out a memo announcing a press conference for July 19 with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and University of Oklahoma president David Boren, who has been a proponent of the conference expanding.
The Big 12 announces that it will be asking interested schools to make presentations to the conference's board.
Boren said several criteria the Big 12 will be looking for in expansion candidates include strength of the athletic program, competitiveness, fan base, media market, reputation and academic standing.
Two days after the Big 12 announced it would explore expansion candidates, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe addressed the situation during a press conference in Salt Lake City. He stressed the importance of finding BYU a Power 5 home for the entirety of the Cougar sports program.
"When I watch our football team and our basketball team and all our Olympic sports have a hard time getting games with Power 5 schools in non conference play, it's tough for all those sports," Holmoe said.
"We've got a long way to go to prove our point, but we’re going to get after it."
Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBT awareness in sports, sent a letter to Bowlsby, as well as the league's 10 school presidents, citing concerns about BYU's Big 12 candidacy.
The group claimed that adding the Provo school would be inconsistent with the values the Big 12 espouses.
In part, the letter says, "BYU … actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff. Given BYU's homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices, BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership."
A month later, Iowa State's student government passed a resolution that stated it "believes that BYU's discriminatory policies and practices are inconsistent with membership to the Big 12 Conference at this time," according to The Ames Tribune.
Boren, the chair of the Big 12 expansion committee, told reporters after an OU regents meeting that expansion was "not a given." It helped fuel speculation that despite the efforts to explore several expansion candidates and invest resources in this endeavor, the league would indeed stay at 10 members.
Less than two weeks before the scheduled Big 12 presidents meeting, CBS Sports reported it had learned the league would not be extending its grant of rights beyond its 2025 expiration.
Right now, the $2.6 billion media rights contract with ESPN and Fox will expire in eight years. Speculation is that by not extending the grant of rights, it brings uncertainty about the stability of the league.
The Big 12 announces it will stand pat at 10 members following its research of potential expansion candidates.
"We do not consider it an active agenda item any longer," league commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.