It was hard leaving Texas Tech after the success we had as a team and individually. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. —Tanner Jacobson
BYU (1-2) vs. West Virginia (2-0)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT, FedEx Field
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — For months, and even years, there have been reports and speculation about BYU potentially being invited to join the Big 12.
The conference has been evaluating expansion for a while, and the Big 12 presidents are scheduled to meet again in October.
As the Cougars get set to face Big 12 foe West Virginia Saturday (1:30 p.m., MDT, ESPN2) at FedEx Field, there’s one Cougar player who knows all about the Big 12. That’s because he’s gone through a Big 12 schedule and has played against every Big 12 school.
Backup safety Tanner Jacobson started four games, and played in 13, for Texas Tech as a true freshman in 2013 before transferring to BYU. He was named to the ESPN Big 12 All-Bowl team after recording seven tackles as the Red Raiders upset Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
Jacobson loves the Big 12 and would love to see the Cougars join the league.
“Growing up in Texas, being around those schools, those were the games I watched,” said Jacobson, who hails from Southlake, Texas. “Great stadiums. Great tradition. Great players. Lots of speed and passing offenses."
Jacobson’s roommate at Texas Tech was quarterback Baker Mayfield, who now plays at Oklahoma.
“I talk to him every once in a while,” said Jacobson, who tallied 47 tackles as a true freshman. “I’d like to play him again. I also keep in contact with a lot of my buddies at Texas Tech. They’re always talking trash, hoping that we get in there.”
Jacobson played at West Virginia in 2013 and helped the Red Raiders beat the Mountaineers 37-27.
“They have a great stadium,” Jacobson recalled. “I was actually looking forward to playing in their stadium until I realized we were playing at a neutral site. It will be fun to play against them.”
Jacobson, the younger brother of former BYU receiver McKay Jacobson, chose to play at Texas Tech rather than BYU out of high school. He had a positive experience in Lubbock but toward the end of his mission in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Jacobson decided to transfer.
“I had always planned on going back to Texas Tech. It didn’t cross my mind until I had multiple people, family members and others, the same week, tell me I should reconsider,” he said. “I thought about it and prayed about it and made the decision. All the things that BYU offered me off the field were really appealing to me. I grew up a BYU fan. My brother was a player here and my mom was a cheerleader here. At at the end of the day, BYU is a special place, academically and spiritually.”
McKay Jacobson didn’t get involved in his brother’s decision to leave Texas Tech. He just counseled Tanner to make the best of his situation no matter where he ended up.
“I’ve always looked up to my brother,” Tanner Jacobson said. “I’ve always tried to follow his footsteps, though he's 7½ years older. I've tried to be my own person. That influenced me to play defensive back instead of receiver.”
These days, McKay Jacobson — who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in 2009 that beat No. 3 ranked Oklahoma of the Big 12 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas — lives in Dallas.
“McKay’s always supportive, sending me pregame texts," Tanner said.
Tanner Jacobson returned home from his mission last December. He lost 20-25 pounds in Bolivia, and it’s taken some time to return to football form.
“My mission definitely changed my paradigm. It made me more grateful for what I have,” he said. “Spiritually, it was what I needed. It was hard leaving Texas Tech after the success we had as a team and individually. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m just happy to contribute here any way I can.”