September 27, 2011
Brigham Young has Big 12 offer
Key in the finalization of such a move is how BYUtv fits in to the Big 12, as well as how much of its current 8-year deal with ESPN BYU can keep. (It would make sense for both parties to keep it intact if contractually possible, as it would add both more money and exposure for all in the conference.) BYU officials are reviewing these details to ensure its wants can be met, which may end up in a renegotiation with Big 12 television partners ESPN and Fox if possible and/or prudent. While acceptance of this offer is not guaranteed, our sources indicate BYU definitely wants in if things can line up to BYU's liking.
Some editorial points:
An acceptance of the offer is not 100% guaranteed. As Dick Harmon of the Deseret News reported late last night, if BYU cannot obtain rebroadcast rights for football games or is not guaranteed the ability to use BYUtv to televise other sports, they will likely decline, or at least continue negotiating. But our sources indicate that BYU wants in and is efforting to make it work, whatever details may or may not be left to hammer out. Without saying as much, Harmon's story also implicitly leads that BYU has an offer: "If you hear reports out of Texas or Oklahoma that BYU is not interested in the Big 12, it is only an interpretation of BYU negotiating its talking points."
It is assumed all this is contingent upon the six-year media grant coming to fruition and being signed by the current nine members of the Big 12. Some schools have to go through a board of regents or similar body before officially agreeing to the media grant that would bind the conference together, so it seems that as of now, that agreement is still not official.
While concern over relationships with the schools in the West Coast Conference has been real, as we reported a month ago, such worries could be dissipating. ESPN's Andy Katz reported four days ago after a sitdown with WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich, "If the Cougars did want to leave, they wouldn’t get held up by the WCC. The league fully understands that BYU may want to join a major football conference..."
The recent turns in the unfolding drama that has been the Big 12 Conference--and pronouncements from Larry Scott on Pac-12 non-expansion--seem to have BYU looking more favorably upon Big 12 inclusion. We had previously reported BYU's interest in aligning with both Notre Dame and Texas. One would assume the appeal of the Big 12 monetarily as well as for competition in non-football sports could ultimately lead BYU to the Big 12. BYU does still have a six-year scheduling agreement with Notre Dame in football. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has confirmed within the last two weeks that Notre Dame is still committed to football independence.
While BYU could still have a strong independent friend in Notre Dame, if it can maintain many of the same television freedoms it currently enjoys in independence to utilize BYUtv and its shiny new $100 million broadcasting building, but combine that with BCS money, BCS access, and a more premier league for basketball and Olympic sports -- it could be too good to pass up.