Y. to WAC deal not dead, yet

As bleak as the outlook may seem at the moment, a source familiar with the negotiations between BYU and the WAC that nearly brought the Cougars back to the conference said talks continue and that ESPN is still in the picture.
There are, however, numerous scenarios that might play out.
The source said BYU is still virtually committed to going independent in football but is negotiating its best scenario for the other teams — that could mean going ahead with its plan to join the WAC but with new partners thanks to the 11th-hour defections of Fresno State and Nevada, staying in the MWC for all sports but football or getting major concessions from the MWC regarding television revenue.
The source said ESPN and BYU are reaching out to schools in the WAC as well as potential conference partners from the MWC and C-USA. Though the source did not confirm when asked, C-USA schools that would fit into a WAC/BYU footprint include SMU, Houston and UTEP.
Knowing there is a no-penalty out with the MWC it is also possible the BYU/ESPN negotiators might try to persuade schools to jump from the MWC to the WAC (or a new conference) with them. Schools that might be persuaded to align with BYU include Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force and New Mexico.
In an interesting twist, a Birmingham, Alabama newspaper published a question and answer article with ESPN college sports programming vice president Burke Magnus and discussed <a href=" http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/08/q_a_with_espn_analyst_mike_bur.html
” target=”_blank”> BYU’s plan to go independent in football .
Asking how attractive an independent BYU was to ESPN, Magnus replied:
“It’s hard to say. You have to consider who they would be playing. BYU to me is a great brand and has a solid history of excellent performance on the fields and on the courts. I think they would have had a good time of it as an independent in terms of putting their best foot forward and build a BYU brand independently. Ultimately, their departure was a lot of rumors and until they actually make the leap, it’s difficult to say.”
Magnus said BYU’s move to independence is not totally dead now that the MWC raided two schools from the WAC, but the move is much more complicated now.
“I’m not sure. I think they obviously have to evaluate a much different landscape than where they were a week ago.”
As far as filling a schedule, Magnus said BYU would be one of few independent schools that could pull it off successfully.
“I think they could have slipped right into our mechanism to fill schedules and word would have spread pretty quickly that they had availability. They have a history of having pretty good teams coming to play in Provo. Texas just did a home-and-home with them. They had Notre Dame there over the years. I presume they’ll continue to play Utah. I think it would have been an interesting proposition to have sort of the mountain version of Notre Dame.”
As for Utah State’s part in the developments, the source said the Aggies and BYU — as much as some may find it hard to believe or even accept — have formed a partnership of sorts to work toward a mutually beneficial arrangement that ultimately will lead to a conference partnership with BYU an independent on the football field.
That said, the source acknowledged, not all agreements have been honored or come to fruition over the past two weeks.
Things may be very quiet over the next few days as all parties keep their lips a little more tightly sealed. But, the source said, there are definitely talks ongoing and BYU’s No. 1 goal is to shed itself of what it now believes to be a cumbersome TV deal with The mtn.

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