As reported here more than a year ago and as opined recently by head coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU’s affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is having an impact on the school’s prospective athletic conference affiliations.
“(BYU is), by design, to be very unique and someone in a conference has to want that culture with our values,” Mendenhall told KSL Radio in Salt Lake City. “Those that want us, fantastic. And if they don’t, I would rather stand alone.”
Mendenhall’s comments come in light of recent talk of further conference realignments.
When the Pac-12 invited Utah and Colorado to join its ranks instead of BYU and Utah, it seemed apparent the liberal-minded powers that be at the conference’s more powerful schools were acting more on ill feelings than reason.
Ill feelings toward what? The LDS Church’s backing of California’s controversial Proposition 8 regarding same-sex marriage.
To be honest, the Pac-12’s snubbing of BYU wasn’t really that surprising, given the liberal tendencies of many of its member schools. What is surprising, however, is the continued hesitancy – or blatant disregard – of adding BYU and its massive fan base to any of the nation’s big athletic conferences.
I’m with Mendenhall on this one. If the conference fat cats are not willing to look beyond religious preconceptions and misconceptions, then the Cougars would be better served to go it on their own.
Bottom line, how much does an invitation to join the Pac-12, Big 12 or any other conference really matter? The Cougars are getting more national exposure as an independent than they ever have as a member of the Western Athletic Conference or Mountain West Conference. Not to mention more cash from the school’s deal with ESPN.
It seems evident BYU would be a solid addition to any of the BCS conferences because of its loyal nationwide following and revenue-generating prospects.
BYU’s unwillingness to play on Sunday as a reason not to invite the school to join a conference is an argument stuck in the 1970s.
Be that as it may, the clock is ticking in the game of big-time college conference realignments and it’s becoming painfully evident the Cougars are going to have to settle for football independence and membership in the West Coast Conference.
All that can be hoped for is for one or more powerful and influential muckity muck to see the light and invite BYU to the table.
Big 12? Are you listening? Your conference is in prime position to benefit the most by inviting the Cougars onboard.