How would BYU football fare in the Big 12?
Originally, the story I planned for this morning's Tribune was going to play the "What If?" game. You know, what if the Big 12 really does invite BYU? Would the Cougars accept? And if they did, how would they fare week in and week out against a Big 12 schedule? Timely, since the Cougars are playing at Texas on Saturday. But reports over the weekend that the Big 12 could be a shadow of its former self, or not exist at all, if Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (or a combination of the four) depart for the Pac-something obviously made that story less sensical. So I wrote this one in today's paper analyzing what would become of BYU if the Big 12 did indeed implode. The Cougars would risk not being a part of a superconference, if that's what college football becomes, by staying put right now, but that seems like a lesser risk than joining a conference without its kingpins, Texas and OU. For their part, BYU's players don't seem to be distracted by all the talk about the future of their program and college football. "Not really [paying attention]," quarterback Jake Heaps said Monday. "At this point, we are just worried about Texas. I know that is the answer that everybody is giving. But for us as players, it really doesn't matter who we play. ... Our job is to go out there and play a football game. It doesn't matter who it is against, or what conference it is in, or what it is. All we are focused on is who is on our schedule, and who we are playing against at that time. Right now, we are just focused on Texas. That's all we are worried about, and that's all we care about." Added linebacker Jordan Pendleton on Tuesday: "I don't know about all that. We are just worried about being independent right now, and playing whoever is on our schedule. And we are going to go out and play as hard as we can, and hope for the best." - All that having been said, I did ask several players and coaches before veering from my original plan whether or not they believe BYU could compete in the Big 12. A few replies: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall: "It is hard to say, having not done it. But I believe that we would compete very well every week. What our win-loss record would be, I don't know, but I think we would compete very well." BYU center Terence Brown: "Yeah, I think so. We feel like we could compete with anyone. That's what we are trying to do, I think, by playing teams in the SEC, and the Big 12. We will play teams in the Pac-12 this year. So yeah, I do." BYU receiver McKay Jacobson: "It is hard to say. I definitely would say any given Saturday, any team can win. You just gotta be prepared and ready to play. Definitely, I think the Big 12 conference is a great conference, and they got a lot of great teams. And stuff like that, who knows? We are just really trying to focus on this week, and this opponent."