Waiting hardest part for USU, BYU fans

Patience.

That, after the confusing, befuddling and anxiety-riddled week that has just passed, is what is needed.

According to a well-placed source at Utah State, the Aggies are — as I reported last Thursday, — still trying to work miracles and find a way into the Mountain West if possible — and if needed.

But even with a September 1 deadline for BYU to declare its intentions in regards to leaving the Mountain West for football independence, there may be no quick resolution to any of this for Utah State and its long suffering fans. The main thing to remember that no matter how involved USU brass is in negotiating a satisfactory outcome, BYU is driving all this and no one — not USU, not the WAC, not the MWC — will be able to make its next move until BYU makes its intentions know.

The source at USU said university president Stan Albrecht as been a busy man over the past two weeks, with numerous meetings, conference calls, consultations with lawyers and plane trips leading to a lot of lost sleep, frazzled nerves and probably some bags under the eyes. That source said Albrecht was included in a round-table meeting with several big wigs from various universities and conferences across the west — including some from the MWC.

Discussed at these meetings were BYU’s intentions, the WAC’s intentions and the Mountain West’s intentions.

Everything, it seems, is waiting on what the Cougars decide to do.

According to my sources at USU, that means the Aggies may very well not know precisely what is going on — or at least not be in a position to announce those decisions while waiting for BYU to finalize its plans. As crazy as this sounds to Aggie fans, BYU and USU have been very friendly partners in this entire thing. USU AD Scott Barnes even went so far as to say BYU is, indeed, going to bat for the Aggies after Albrecht so strongly worked with the WAC to nearly pull off the unthinkable just a week ago.

At the risk of being left twisting in the wind for much longer than anyone wants, it is very likely there will be no announcement for USU before September and, if so, an outcome may be months in the making. But, sources at USU told the Deseret News this week, the eventual outcome will be a favorable one.

According to the According to the San Jose Mercury News, BYU is opening every possible door to see where it leads and that includes recent communication with the West Coast Conference. So that opens up yet another possibility.

One of the key parts to BYU’s interest in the WAC was a football scheduling agreement that would have helped solve many of BYU’s independence problems as well as bowl game issues. Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and Pepperdine do absolutely nothing to help BYU’s football needs. That, along with the WAC’s perilous status as a conference — is why I do not believe BYU will jump to one of those conferences for all sports except an independent football team.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports BYU and the MWC are still chit-chatting about what it will take to keep the Cougars in the MWC. What we know is BYU wants a bigger paycheck when it comes to television revenue — the current MWC agreement is wonderful for schools like Wyoming and Colorado State, but is a pair of cement shoes for the schools, like BYU, who actually have viewer interest beyond a three-county area.

In the past week, I have spoken with administrators, reporters and others closely following the situation at USU, BYU, the WAC, the MWC and several other schools involved.

Here, then, is my semi-educated guess at predicting some possibilities and scenarios (all of which have actually had some level of discussion according to multiple sources) for what might happen within the next week — leading to the September 1 MWC deadline.

1: Nothing happens. BYU, unable to get the concessions from the MWC it wants and, unable to finalize a new TV contract with ESPN/BYU-TV, stays put for another year while negotiating with the Big 12 while also ironing out details of its exit from the MWC. The next 12 months are anxiety filled as everyone knows this is only a temporary peace agreement.

2: BYU becomes Texas-lite. The MWC concedes and gives BYU what it wants — control of its TV revenue in exchange for not leaving the conference. BYU-TV is in place and ready to go and, believe it or not, will save the MWC some money when it wants to pick up games of any sort in Provo. Paying BYU a small fee for those games is going to be less expensive than renting equipment from SLC or driving the truck to Provo from Colorado. If this happens, the MWC suddenly has an awkward 11-team conference in all sports and BYU, as part of its agreement to stay in the MWC, makes sure Utah State becomes the 12th school. Yes, as much as it might pain TCU, Boise State and others to admit, BYU has that kind of power in the MWC.

3: BYU and ESPN take over. If BYU does not get what it wants from the MWC, it partners with ESPN to form a new western conference that sheds the deadweight of The mtn. all together. Based on the language in the WAC/BYU Memorandum of Understanding, we know BYU and ESPN were already working on a television deal. The new conference, under ESPN’s direction and with BYU’s influence, would include BYU, Boise State, UNLV, San Diego State, TCU, New Mexico, Air Force and Utah State (if the theory that BYU and USU are surprisingly buddy-buddy on this is true). While an automatic berth in the NCAA basketball tournament would not be secure, it would not be an issue because that is one strong basketball conference. If this new conference wanted to be 10 teams, the other two would come from an mixture of WAC/MWC/C-USA schools such as Wyoming, Colorado State, Hawaii (ESPN and many schools covet games on that island), UTEP or Houston.

BYU has already done something similar in the past. When unhappy with the old mega-WAC, BYU and Utah lead the charge to create the MWC. Now that Utah is gone and The mtn. is a negative virtually all ways for BYU, hitting the reset button — again — may not be a surprising option.

4: BYU gets a surprising late invitation to either the Big 12 or the Pac 10. This would blow up all other scenarios, and eliminate an 11th or 12th spot in the MWC for the Aggies.

There you go, the best-guess of a sports writer. Which, in most places will get you a refill at the company water cooler.

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