BCS Busters Still Looking for Respect

July 30, 2010 – 7:40 am by Eric Schmoldt

For a few days this summer, the Mountain West Conference looked like it might have a clear-cut argument to become the seventh automatic-qualifying conference to the Bowl Championship Series. If the league could boast Utah, Boise State, TCU and BYU as members that might be hard to turn down when the BCS re-evaluates in two years.

But just days after adding Boise State to the 2011 mix, Utah was gone, bolting for greener pastures in the Pac-10 starting next season.

Now, despite a 9-3 bowl record against teams from automatic qualifying conferences, the Mountain West appears to be right back at square one in its crusade to “join the party.” It’s a fight that has been spearheaded by commissioner Craig Thompson, but the league’s coaches, including BYU head man Bronco Mendenhall, have been right there to reinforce the argument.

Bronco Mendenhall joined ESPN Las Vegas with Steve Cofield and Dave Cokin to discuss why BYU isn’t necessarily an attraction to some conferences, the Cougars’ biggest rival bolting the league and how he thinks the top non-BCS teams would fare in the top conferences.

On policing players who use social media:

“We can’t be with the players when they leave the practice field, we can’t be with them when they go to close, we can’t be with them at night, so if you don’t simply just ask them and trust them to do what you want them to do, then you recruited the wrong guys. That’s really the simple way I go about it. … If there’s a problem, they’re held accountable and they wish they hadn’t done whatever they did.”

On enforcing rules:

“What I’ve found is I lead the team more by principle than by exact rules. The rules kind of paint you into a box. You’re trying to create all these different situations that you’re looking at your book, ‘What did I do to this one? What did I do to that one?’ We simply go on with ‘This is what I ask you to do and use good judgment.’ … Most of the time it works well. … The kids at BYU, for the most part, are coming to that school because they want a very different experience and it’s relatively easy to manage them.”

On the reaction of fans and the team to Utah leaving the Mountain West Conference after this year:

“I think, in terms of the reaction, you would probably have every gamut. You would have those who couldn’t wait to see them go. You’d have those that are sad to see them go, those that are mad that they’re going and we’re not going, those that are sad that the rivalry will change. I think you have the entire gamut. Really, the bottom line is the rivalry will not be the same. We’re not in the same league anymore.”

On what Utah brings to the Pac-10:

“It’s interesting because one of the things that, among coaches in the Mountain West Conference, we have always been acknowledging that versus the Pac-10 over the past five years, we’ve beaten the Pac-10 with a one-game advantage. We were always interested in saying we were actually outperforming them. Now, is the Pac-10 really superior? It’ll be interesting to see. I think Utah will go in and do very well, quite frankly, because I think they’re a good football team.”

On BYU’s attractiveness to other leagues in terms of realignment:

“BYU is so unique and we’re not appealing to a lot of conferences. Once you add a faith-based component, and that is the main reason that school exists, [it’s tough]. If you were to say ‘Is attendance the reason? Are number of wins the reason you wouldn’t be selected?’ You’d say all those things, revenue generated, TV exposure, all those things are very strong. The bottom line is, for any BYU fan to acknowledge, is we’re not any other school and we won’t be appealing to many conferences because of the faith-based nature.”

On how the top Mountain West Conference teams would fare in the top conferences:

“My argument would be, right now, if you took Boise, you took BYU, you took TCU or Utah and put them in any conference, they would all do very well and hold their own. I think anyone that follows college football would acknowledge that. For someone to then wave the magic wand and have to wait to be invited. I mean, in the meantime, we’ve got to play our way in. This conference has to continue to get better and play our way in.”

Listen to the entire interview with Bronco Mendenhall on ESPN Las Vegas here

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  1. 2 Responses to “BCS Busters Still Looking for Respect”

  2. The following is as it was passed on to me.

    Concerning Tom’s recent shot fired across the bow of the MWC concerning going independent.

    The BYU ptb’s are planning an announcement sometime near the end of the year. Interested schools + Conference schools will have until July1st next year to decide their intentions. I suspect the details will leak out before the Dec.date. Presently, just the idea is being leaked.

    Among the possibilities:

    Each school will set up its own tv network using pay for view. And sign a targeted amount of fans to yearly sports programming. Each school determines the size of the target and cost of the yearly subscription. BYU’s target is 100,000 yearly. They think 10,000 to 30,000 single game purchases depending upon who the visiting team is.

    Single game purchases are so the fans of visiting teams can watch their team play, plus for those outside the blackout area. A black out area so more seats will be sold in the stadium.

    Each school keeps all the income for all purchases, both yearly purchases and single game purchases. However, normal visiting team guarantees will remain in effect.

    Each schools station will be able to handle three games each Saturday, broadcast to a different pfv channel. The Kansas schools already have extensive tv programming, and would be able to purchase or rent more pfv bandwidth to allow them to go nation wide pfv.

    Tom’s announcement about the possibility of going independent was to put the conference schools on notice. Get their attention, they make a lot of money off BYU games.

    Word is BYU is looking at purchasing the bandwidth for four pfv channels to rent to interested schools. That would allow up to 12 games a day.

    Each interested school would hire its own tv crews and announcers. Game officials would have to be worked out, but would not seem to be a problem because the pay rate would be increased. Instant replay would continue, officials with obviously missed calls would be fined. Bigot Twelve officials would not be considered!

    Why did Utah decide to go with the Pac 12 instead of working on this project with BYU? Utah doesn’t have a big enough “interested” fan base.

    All BYU games would be rebroadcast the following week on BYUtv at 7pm, during prime time.

    I see a new conference here, Schools supposedly expressing interest in the Tv pfv so far; Kansas, KSU, Iowa State, Air Force, Missouri, Army, Navy, Tulsa, ND, CSU, BYU, and BSU. The Big 12 schools mentioned tired of Texas and Oklahoma getting everything they want.

    Now, lets talk about the income possibilities. Say BYU signs up 100,000 homes to its PFV “all sports” network 100,000 X $150 a year is $15 million. Then there’s single game purchases at say $20 dollars a game, other school fans, BYU (sub) fans only interested in one or two games, LES tickets and concessions. PLUS, any advertising dollars they can rake in.

    The Mountain tv network payout for mwc teams is $1.5 million. Signing up “ONLY” 20,000 season all sports sign ups for each school would gross $3 million dollars per school. Not counting single game purchases and normal football season ticket and concession income.

    The military schools have access to Armed Forces radio, and tv through the Military channel.

    ND has access through its own Catholic nationwide network. They think they can sign up over a million.

    Tulsa claims available access through a religious channel, they think at least 50,000.

    BYUtv is already broadcasting to 50 million homes in the US alone, plus Canada, and then there’s BYU International. There are over 950,000 homes in the State of Utah alone! Shooting for only 100,000 household signups.

    That’s what I’m hearing!


    By Bob Henstra on Aug 2, 2010

  3. I favor sports broadcasting independence for BYU. Perhaps the new campus facilities will satisfy that need.

    I also propose a nation-wide Christian Athletic Conference (CAC) with both Div I & II in an Eastern & Western League. There are ample Christian-based schools to accomplish this. An initial Div I CAC League will generate enough fan popularity and financial benefit to offset some residual “Christian intolerance,” and complete the CAC concept. BW

    By Bob Webster on Aug 2, 2010

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