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BYU Watching Developments with Interest

7 June 2011 Brett Richins 33 Comments

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The powers that be at BYU are watching a couple of developments in college football and hoping that they don’t become trends.

The newly expanded PAC-12 recently instituted a clause in its new television contract that prevents its member football programs from scheduling non-conference games beyond the first three weeks of the season.

USC and Stanford are exempt from the the rule when it comes to playing traditional rival Notre Dame, but all other schools must receive a waiver from all 12 athletic directors if they wish to play a non-conference opponent beyond the third week of the season.

The move by the PAC-12 may make it more difficult for the BYU vs. Utah rivalry to be played on an annual basis, but if other conferences were to follow suit, it would be much worse news for BYU.

The one fear that the BYU brass has is that the PAC-12 bylaw could be picked up on by other conferences, making it extremely difficult for the Cougars to fill out their future schedules. If you are a BYU fan, it’s a development to keep an eye on.

Another development to watch is taking place in the Southeastern Conference.

The SEC voted last week to limit the number of football scholarships handed out annually to 25 and to end the practice of grayshirting its players. Players grayshirt when they sign a letter of intent but delay their enrollment in school for a season. For years many programs have utilized the practice of oversigning the number of players, sometimes to the detriment of the student-athletes.

The SEC is reportedly recommending that the NCAA follow the lead of the conference and eliminate the practice.

BYU has utilized grayshirting over the years as a tool to help manage the comings and goings of  missionaries. For example, an unusual number of Cougar recruits who were part of the 2011 signing class will grayshirt this year, by not enrolling in school in 2011 and then serving missions in 2012. They will not enroll until 2014 and will not count toward BYU’s limit of 85 scholarships until then.

Because the 2010 class consisted of fewer players than normal who have elected to serve missions, and because the Cougars get back a significant number of returned missionaries for 2011, available scholarships were fewer and farther between this year.

The Cougar coaching staff oversigned the total number of players allowed, with some of them understanding that they would not don the blue and white and join the team until three years out. If the NCAA were to adopt a ban on grayshirting, it could make the already challenging task of managing BYU’s roster significantly more difficult.

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  • Joey Niklas said:

    Didn’t USC/Notre Dame get a waiver? Couldn’t Utah/BYU get a waiver as well?

  • Greg said:

    Brett –

    So we should assume that “traditional rival” BYU isn’t allowed for Utah? :) It would be interesting to read the actual contract to verify, but everything seems to have a Notre Dame clause…

    Anyway, this development is concerning but hasn’t sunk the Cougars’ battleship yet. Contrary to popular opinion (I know you already know this), BYU doesn’t need to schedule the top 12 teams each year (which is lucky, because the PAC-10 never has more than two). Ideally, our schedule would mirror that of the “top” programs. Below is my opinion of Auburn’s 2010 schedule:

    Marquee: LSU, Alabama, Oregon (Bowl)
    Mid-level (Upper): South Carolina (twice), Arkansas, Georgia
    Mid-level (Lower): Mississippi State, Clemson, Kentucky, Mississippi
    Minor leagues: Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Chattanooga

    I just hope BYU doesn’t schedule more than one PAC-10 team per year in the first three games. I’d rather play Iowa State or Minnesota than capitulate to the PAC-10. If USC wants to play us, great. Drop Utah for a few years. So we can make it happen. After seeing the KSL radio stats yesterday, it’s pretty clear which teams Utahns actually care about. A few years without Utah will hurt their bottom line, not ours (if we’re replacing them with USC/UCLA/Cal in a home-and-home).

  • CougFaninTX said:

    This is disappointing news from the PAC12. I was really hoping to keep Utah plus one other PAC12 school on the schedule each year. I was starting to enjoy the games against UCLA, Washington and Oregon State. And looking forward to the opportunity to add USC. But with this clause, it will likely only be one PAC12 team each year. And I agree with the previous poster, if we have an opportunity to play USC, Stanford or Oregon; we should let the rivalry game against Utah go by the wayside. We can always pick it down the road.

    I’m hoping a few other teams see the merits of being Independent. I think Texas is looking at it the most seriously; but USC, Air Force, and a couple of others are also being rumored as possible Independents. Army and Navy should become become regular October / November games for us along with Notre Dame.

    Hopefully, ESPN will continue to flex their mighty muscles on our behalf and we’ll continue to get a schedule that’s comparable to a BCS conference schedule.

  • LouisD said:

    I suspect the ban on past 3rd week scheduling has more to do with their schedule management within conference than any conspiracy to shut out anyone else, including BYU. However, the FOX deal does make BYU’s ESPN ties perhaps a bit more competitive in the board rooms of tall glass buildings as well. While most of us probably love Fox News and the Rupert Murdock machine, the fact is (and I have never understood this), the FOX Sports group has never been particularly friendly to BYU.

    It simply never has made sense, but then a lot of things don’t when it comes to the sports entertainment business. Suffice to say, ESPN has branded BYU a major commodity and therefore it has become a competitor to FOX. Therefore, those long hoped for USC, UCLA, CAL and ASU battles every couple of years might never happen and the UTAH game will be stuck in September – which unlike most of you, I believe is actually GOOD for BYU. If you beat them down in September, you have all season to remind them of it every time they take the field (and vice verse). It also forced BYU to look forward to more important goals throughout the season.

  • Jason said:

    Seeing how the top teams in the nation appear to be scheduling games with us at an alarming rate thanks to ESPN’s help, I doubt the PAC-12 clause will be a problem even when trying to schedule Utah.

  • Vegas said:

    While I think the PAC-12 is ridiculous by trying to lock down its teams, I don’t see any real difference to BYU fans. We’ll still get to play Utah every year (I don’t know what you guys are smoking to think that we should stop the rivalry), and the rest of the PAC-12 teams don’t really matter. Like Jason said, we won’t have any troubles scheduling quality teams. To be honest, I’d rather see some rivalries develop with teams from the SEC, ACC, and BIG 12 before watching us play more west coast teams. It would be better for national exposure and recruiting.

  • jvquarterback said:

    So which teams get a bye when USC and Stanford play ND? and why can’t they schedule BYU that week?

    BYU could still make this work, but I’d rather they play UCLA, USC, ASU or UA later in the season to help recruit Southern California and Arizona.

  • Brett Richins said:

    For those asking the question… could the BYU/Utah game receive a waiver? The answer is “yes”, if Utah applies for it and all of the other schools unanimously approve it. Since the conference wants to see Utah and CU develop a rivalry similar to the other end-of-the-year traditional rivalry games like USC/UCLA, Cal/Stanford, the Apple Cup, the Civil War and UA/ASU, its not likely that such a waiver will be granted. Especially since schools like Cal and Stanford aren’t exactly pro-BYU.

  • Adam said:

    Game doesn’t need to be the last game of the year, but at least in November…

  • Chad said:

    Sounds like Pac 10 is tired of losing to the likes of BYU and hopes Utah will become a whipping dummy!

  • Ralph J said:

    I’m not too worried. I’m sure ESPN will continue to open other doors for BYU. We’re seeing evidence of this already.

  • Tyler in Kenya said:

    All the more incentive for Holmoe and the admin to really reach out hard to Navy and Army- ensure at least 2 more games/year in the late Fall.

  • Cory said:

    Brett is right. BYU could receive the waiver but when all knowing big wigs assign rivalries, it isn’t likely.
    Isn’t it funny though… I see the conversation going like this…
    BW:”utah, your rival will be Colorado.”
    ut/Co: Okay, why?”
    BW: “Because it has to work, we own you now so you are now bitter rivals!”

  • mike said:

    Byu will still have a chance to play little brother if they can make it to the poinsettia bowl or kraft bowl and would be a better end of year match up.

  • Matt said:

    Considering the PAC 12 leadership is pretty new, I think it’s too early to say that we should or shouldn’t keep playing Utah.

    Yes, if we base the possibilities of getting Utah to play us in November on the history BYU had with the PAC 10, then yeah it’s highly unlikely we get a waiver to play Utah later in the year.

    The fact is, we don’t know yet. Utah hasn’t wanted to rock the boat in it’s first year and probably feels lucky to be under the soon to be $18 Million+ umbrella. Give it time, as long as Chris Hill is in charge, Utah will eventually get themselves in a position to muster up the courage to ask for a waiver to play BYU.

    As much as some people would like to end the rivalry game, Holmoe and Hill are far too committed to make it work……and they trump all of the cynics.

  • siriusperception said:

    Stanford and USC might play each other the third week each year to leave their schedule open for Notre Dame.

    Maybe Utah could schedule a division team the third week each year and both those teams could play BYU late in the season. I think the PAC might go for that.

  • TX Colonel said:

    PAC12 is scared of BYU. Why else do they take their marbles and go home?

  • Adam said:

    I think what is happening is conferences are afraid of independence. If they can cut off independence from BYU then perhaps they can kill/stall independence for other teams.

  • Bob Henstra said:

    Utah will get a waiver if they actually want one, The conference can’t allow waivers for some teams and refuse others, law suit time!


  • Bob Henstra said:

    Brett, a suggestion! Please divide these comments into pages, say 10 comments per page!


  • Jimmerfan said:

    I agree with Joey’s comment. If USC/Notre Dame is allowed, BYU/Utah should be allowed. USC and Utah are both Pac-10 teams, and BYU and Notre Dame are both independents. They should get the same amount of respect and should be given the same rules.

    This is proof that the BCS is unfair. They are in love with schools that make a lot of money, and they won’t do anything to help schools like Utah and BYU. If Bill Hancock (BCS Executive Director) claims that the BCS is fair, the BYU/Utah game should be allowed on any week of the season.

    Also, if Notre Dame gets an automatic BCS berth with a top 8 ranking, the same should go for BYU, Army, and Navy.

  • Oxcoug said:

    Who knows, since Utah has certainly passed us in football presitge, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to re-join the WAC or Mtn West.

  • BYU DUDE said:

    It is Great reporting like this, that keeps me coming back time and time again.

    Thanks Brett.

  • Batman said:

    Utah should apply for a waiver to at least play the game sometime in Nov. I think Yewtah didn’t want to rock the boat as a new member, but no one is really buying the Col Yewtah rivarly.

    The interesting thing to see is whether Yewtah will actually apply for the waiver. It is in the best interest of byu and the rivarly, but clearly Yewtah is mostly about themselves, or should I say full of themselves. It would take someone like KWhit doing this for the better good of the rivarly and not sure he would.

  • Oceanographer said:


    I hope that comment was tongue in cheek.


    I think you are right that independence is scaring a lot of conferences, especially if BYU is as successful as I think they will be.


    It isn’t a big deal, but I like the single page for comments.

  • Seasider said:

    The Pac 12 is arguably one of the most hated conferences in the country for a variety of reasons. The other conferences are not gonna follow suit with a rule against late non-conference games unless it’s in their best interests.

  • duckhouse said:

    I think Utah should move to prove they are not just a patsy. I think they should schedule with BYU later than the 3 week limit of the pac-12 and make the NCAA rule on it,, and get congress involved for forcing teams to comply, isn’t this what is the way the BCS is controlling the non-cpnference teams now, lets not let them get away with it. Lets botcott their games.

  • Blue Shades said:

    This independence thing is going to ROCK! Right now there are four major players. BYU – Notre Dame – Army – Navy. Within two years that number will be more than double. A super conference of indy’s in the making. Look for Texas to be the next on-comer. BYU doesn’t bring the biggest market from Salt Lake, but they more than make up for it with a fan base that reaches from coast to coast and from border to border.

  • AzTim said:

    re: Bob Henstra
    Please don’t put the comments into pages with 10 comments to a page. Currently, all one has to do is scroll to read all of the comments. Opening each page will add greatly to the time investment waiting for each page to open. Keep it the way it is: simple and very fast!

  • Bob Henstra said:

    Last Legacy Club meeting we all got a big laugh when someone mockingly commented that it was obvious the Pukes owned the SLC tv market—–

    I can hardly wait for both teams to play their games at the same time, one in Provo, one in SLC—

    We’ll see who owns the SLC TV market!


  • Clark said:

    There is no way Utah will be dropped from the schedule. It is a game that Tom will not mess with.

    So, we will definitely see 2 Pac-12 teams on some given years.

    But, I agree, there are a lot of other conference’s teams that we haven’t played and they’ll be the focus.

  • Aaron said:

    If BYU wants to play Pac-12 schools, I am confident some kind of agreement can be reached. The Pac-12 presidents may have their heads in the clouds as far as conference membership is concerned, but the Pac-12 athletic directors and coaches see BYU as a marquee opponent that increases their ticket sales by 10-15,000 because of all the Church members throughout the west. Throw in ESPN as the broker, and I think BYU will be just fine with the Pac-12…if that is in BYU’s best interest.

  • David Moore said:

    If the Big-12 makes an invitation to BYU, watch how fast Larry Scott changes his tune when he see that a Pac-12/Big-12 matchup late in the year could do to the TV numbers of both leagues. He will be on the phone with Dan Beebe very quickly seeing how they could potentially one-up the SEC/ACC matchups that come in late November.

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