BYU coach makes impassioned plea to join the Big 12
JUN 06, 2014 1:15p ET
If Bronco Mendenhall had his wish, the BYU Cougars would be in the Big 12.
“We would love to be in the Big 12,” Mendenhall told the Austin American-Statesman. “I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense."
Mendenhall's comments come after much talk this offseason has been dedicated to scheduling, with strength of schedule becoming increasingly important with the new playoff format.
Earlier this offseason, the SEC and ACC announced rule changes that will require their members to play at least one non-conference game each year against a Big Five opponent, which includes teams from the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten plus independent Notre Dame. For whatever reason, those leagues didn't consider independent BYU as part of the Big Five category even though the Cougars routinely produce teams better than many in those conferences.
Last month, Mendenhall told FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman in regards to BYU not being deemed Big Five worthy, "I really don't get too worried about the things that I can't control," but being left out of the Big Five clearly frustrates him.
From the American-Statesman:
“We have a chip on our shoulder,” Mendenhall said. “I could have given you that instead of the longer answer. I’m just wondering who fights for us as an independent?“
Between myself and my basketball coaches, there’s no two featured programs that have won mores games,” Mendenhall continued. “Our attendance is high enough. And our winning percentage is high enough.
“We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the church. There’d be a ton to offer the Big 12, because it’s a money-generated world right now. You’re talking about an amazing kind of brand.”
“I bet I’d have the first plane ticket to whoever I have to see to present our case. How ‘bout us?”
What's working against BYU is that the Big 12 currently is doing fine with its 10-team setup, and even if it were to expand, chances are the league would first look to expand its reach in the East, where it already has one member (West Virginia).
Mendenhall makes valid points for BYU as an attractive option for the Big 12, and there are probably a handful of business reasons why commissioner Bob Bowlsby would be inclined to look elsewhere before Provo.
One thing that's clear: The American-Statesman quotes an anonymous Big 12 source saying, "Outside of the 65 [Big Five teams], [BYU] could be the best program out there," which is a ridiculous statement, even if intended as a kind of compliment, when you watch Wake Forest or Colorado or Kansas or Indiana or Kentucky or any number of Big Five bottom-feeders clinging to the last rung of the power players' ladder.
Strengh of schedule, as it will relate to playoff seeding, doesn't consider market size or brand reach, only football prowess. And every year it is clear BYU produces a football program more worthy of Big Five status than many of the teams granted that status.