BYU in the Big East. It sure doesn't sound like it makes much sense, seeing how Utah Lake is hardly the Eastern Seaboard. But on paper, there's just no two ways about it. BYU must accept the Big East's invitation to join the conference in football.
I think that is what is going to happen. All that probably needs to be done is for BYU to cross the "t's" and dot the "i's" concerning the inclusion of BYUtv and their contract with ESPN. If BYU is allowed to keep all of its broadcasting rights that they currently hold as an independent, than this is a no-brainer.
We're seeing how challenging life can be as an independent. After the loss to Texas in September, we all knew BYU was locked into the Armed Forces Bowl against a lowly opponent. There was no other option. But as a member of the Big East, BYU can once again vie for a conference title and most importantly, have much better access to a BCS bowl game.
That's the biggest reason Bronco Mendenhall has lobbied to be in a conference, and he's absolutely right. UConn made the Fiesta Bowl last year with a record of 8-4. If the Big East retains its automatic qualifier status, as is expected, BYU might be playing New Year's Day every other year or so.
Joining the Big East would also give the Cougars meaningful games in November. Let's face it, after the TCU game, how are Cougars and their fans supposed to stay excited? They're finishing the season against Idaho, New Mexico State and Hawaii, instead of the likes of Boise State, Louisville and Cincinnati. Just look at Utah. Despite an 0-4 start to the Pac-12 season, the Utes are still playing a meaningful game against Washington State this weekend.
As far as travel goes, BYU would most likely be making just two trips back east each season to play games. That's not much different than their current travel schedule. Besides, BYU fans are all over the country, and would be well represented wherever they play.
True, the Big East isn't the most glamorous conference in the country. It's actually much less exciting than the Big 12. But BYU's television network would never have worked with the Big 12 and their ruling power, namely Texas. In the Big East, BYU would be one of the big boys in what is still a big boy conference. And with the way the college landscape trending towards super conferences, the Cougars better get into a conference now, or they will be on the outside looking in.