May 23, 2011
BYU and ESPN attempting to bring the bacon
The long-rumored agreement with Hawaii that became official today, which has BYU playing Hawaii "almost annually" through 2020, is the official BYU scheduling news of the day. The names in the rumor mill, however, are interesting. Very interesting.
It started last week when DeepShadesofBlue.com's Brett Richins reported from sources inside BYU that deals with Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin were close, and that USC and UCLA had called to explore scheduling games as well. He indicated that BYU was close to officially announcing some agreements right when the Pac12 set the sports news world on fire with its new TV deal, and the Cougars wanted to wait until they could shine a bit brighter in the media spotlight. He also indicated that some of the hang up in announcing the series was that many were set to be home-home-neutral series, and the schools were working to finalize where the neutral games would be played.
While this definitely comes from a BYU blog, so some grains of salt might be needed, we know of no reason to doubt the veracity of Mr. Richin's sources. Impeccable? Not sure. Credible? Most likely.
But today, rumors independent of BYU and its blogosphere surfaced when FBSchedules.com added Ohio State, Arizona State, and Syracuse to the mix, as well as giving very detailed information on the nature of these games, which includes:
-BYU will play Ohio State in a home-home-neutral, with the neutral game at what we presume is Cowboys Stadium
-The neutral game of the Nebraska series will be played in Denver (presumed to be Invesco)
-BYU will play Syracuse in a home-home-neutral, with the neutral game at the Meadowlands
-A game with Penn State at FedEx Field in 2014
-A season opener at Arizona State in 2013
Now we aren't normally the type to jump on every rumor floating around like occurs on fan message boards, but the details provided by FBSchedules in these rumors (years, locations of neutral-site games) suggests that this is more than speculation. Teams in the mix such as USC and Syracuse are teams who have played home-and-homes with BYU within the last 10 years, so those schools don't feel out of place.
If these things are true, then my oh my are BYU and ESPN going harder than anyone could have seen coming. Not only are these some of the biggest names in college football, but they are also setting up neutral site games in NFL stadiums. The rumored Nebraska series, for example, would be a huge matchup from a fan standpoint. Both BYU and Nebraska travel very well, and Denver boasts an NFL stadium that is almost exactly in between the two schools, and within reasonable driving distance of both.
When BYU announced independence, the college football world debated if BYU would be able schedule anybody, or if they were the Notre Dame of the West. We told people they'd line up a solid schedule, but didn't have this in mind, and certainly didn't think BYU was in a position to call them the Notre Dame of the West. But maybe it isn't too far fetched after all.
As for now, though, it's time to wait and see, as all much of this is rumor ... so time will tell.