Monson: BYU â hot but crazy, and out of anyone's league
BYU is that crazy hot girl or guy who everybody thought they wanted to date in college, and then, after experiencing so much of her or his high maintenance and constant demands and self-centered behavior, discovered â¦ no, no they didn't.
Beauty and brawn only go so far.
Not to get all personal, but for my friends and me it was â¦ Jill. For yours and you, maybe it was Jack. There's a Jill or Jack in everyone's shredded memory bank.
Jill was stunning to look at. Gorgeous. She had broad appeal, a large fan base, and great facilities. Everybody knew it and acknowledged it and pursued it â¦ until they found out she was impossible to be around.
Well. Jill is BYU.
The WAC couldn't handle her and her friends.
The Mountain West struggled with her.
The Big 12 couldn't take Jill.
The Big East gave it a whirl, and wound up exasperated and, ultimately, rejected. It wouldn't give in to the demands. It couldn't indulge her.
So, BYU will likely end up just like Jill.
And maybe that will be OK with BYU and some of its fans.
But there are questions about and contradictions in what has gone on over the past weeks as BYU has negotiated with conference administrators interested in having the Cougars join their leagues.
What exactly are BYU's priorities? What should they be? Will Cougar football be relevant again anytime soon?
Tom Holmoe and Bronco Mendenhall often have talked about the importance of exposure. Right now, the Cougars, in their independence, have that eight-year deal with ESPN which pays them somewhere between $1 million and $2 million per game.
That, by itself, sounds pretty good.
But most of the games being televised against opponents such as San Jose State, Idaho State, Idaho, New Mexico State couldn't hold the attention of a national audience, even if it were mildly interested in watching the Cougars.
Last Saturday, against the Aggies, in a game that kicked off at 8:15 at night, some 20,000 seats stayed empty at LaVell Edwards Stadium. If BYU's own fans aren't captivated by bad matchups, why would anyone out there in front of a TV, with so many viewing options, dial in?
Mendenhall says he's happy with the future scheduling BYU is putting in place. While it's true that the Cougars face a few attractive opponents in coming years, none of their future schedules show much promise for the month of November, when games should create the biggest buzz.
In its current form, BYU has to beat the better teams on its plate to stir any patience for playing out the string. This season, the Cougars lost to Texas, Utah and TCU. And they beat â¦ who? Scheduling as an independent, sustaining worthy games throughout, will always be a huge challenge. If BYU doesn't have that, and doesn't have a league title for which to play, where's its relevance?
Mendenhall also says BCS access is big for BYU.
The school's concern over the Big East's future BCS status or even whether the BCS will continue being involved with such matters as a league's automatic qualification and, if a revolution happened, bowls beyond the BCS Championship game is legitimate. Writing an escape into their deal with the Big East, based on that, made a lot of sense.
But the Cougars' BCS access now is almost non-existent.
They aren't getting in unless they're undefeated, and BYU has gone undefeated once in its history twice if the 1979 season is included, when it lost only in the Holiday Bowl. Counting on going undefeated as a means of getting in is a bad percentage play.
But it's all the Cougars have.
Questions remain: Does BYU really want BCS access? Does it want relevance? Does it want something to play for?
The sledgehammer emphasis on exposure is curious from this standpoint: What exactly does all that exposure bring? Does it bring religious conversions? Does it make non-LDS athletes from Ohio or Georgia or New York suddenly want to sign the Honor Code and change their lives?
The Cougars' desire to be seen on TV is understandable. But wanting to be seen on TV playing games that don't matter, and having that as a top priority, at the expense of joining a league, satisfying so many other advantages and gaining TV exposure via that route, seems counterproductive.
BYU's insistence that the Big East allow it to retain television rights to its home games is a reward no other football program in a major conference has. Why should the Cougars expect or get that?
It's Jill, or Jack, asking for too, too much, and everybody telling her, or him, to pound sand.
Look, BYU is an attractive program. It has plenty to offer, including a distinctive brand, a proud history, a decent-sized national fan base, a now-faded national title, an assortment of scattered big wins over time, and an offense that at least at one point was a lot of fun to watch.
But it isn't Notre Dame.
It isn't hot enough to rearrange the way leagues make deals with prospective members.
And it isn't hot enough to go on firing off unprecedented demands of suitors that are willing to make some concessions, but not satisfy all that BYU wants at the expense of the rest of its league members.
Moreover, you have to wonder if the Cougars are ticking off powerful people and damaging relationships they should be trying to solidify in the face of an uncertain future in college football. If superleagues ever happen, and BYU is left on its own, with few friends, with a reputation of being difficult, where will it turn, then?
If the Pac-12 is out, the Big 12 is out, the Big East is out, who will ever be in? The SEC? No. The Big Ten? No. The ACC? No.
Maybe independence is best for the Cougars. Maybe they think ESPN's money is great, and maybe that money is more important than anyone at BYU has let on. Maybe they see something about themselves that the rest of us can't see.
We all thought the same thing, on that last one, about Jill.
She wasn't worth it. And she ended up exclusively with her best friend forever herself.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone.