When the Brigham Young football team takes the field this fall, it will mark the fourth straight season during which the Cougars haven't been part of a conference. BYU became a football independent in 2011, leaving the Mountain West Conference, which it had been a member of since 1999.
The Cougars' coach, Bronco Mendenhall, would like that to change.
In an interview with the Austin-American Statesman, Mendenhall spoke about the idea of BYU joining the Big 12.
“We would love to be in the Big 12,” Mendenhall said. “I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, if that was your headline, that would be great.”
The Big 12 currently has 10 members, so for BYU to join, another school would likely have to come, too. But it makes sense. The Cougars are an average-to-above-average football program, they're located in the Southwest, and could probably form some decent rivalries against the Oklahoma and Texas schools.
It would, of course, help BYU out a lot. Scheduling as an independent school is becoming increasingly difficult, and the added revenue that comes from being in a conference would add millions to the Cougars' athletic budget.
More from Mendenhall:
“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 more 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.”
With the Pac-12, which added Utah and Colorado, likely being out of reach for BYU, the Big 12 seems to be the Cougars' only option when it comes to joining a major conference.