ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Riley Nelson #13 of the BYU Cougars reacts after an incomplete pass during a game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium on October 28, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
As was first hinted last night by Jay Drew from the Salt Lake Tribune, BYU now appears unlikely to join the Big East as a football only member, despite reports just two weeks ago that the move was imminent and desired by all parties involved. According to a report today from CBS' Brett McMurphy, BYU's tone in the negotiations has changed and has changed to such an extent that the deal appears unlikely to be doable any longer. He writes:
Unless BYU decides to relinquish its television rights for its home football games, the Cougars likely will not join the Big East, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com. The Cougars have been in discussions with the Big East for weeks about joining the league.
However, negotiations between the Big East and BYU have stalled. "I doubt BYU will happen", a college football industry source told CBSSports.com. They are being extremely unreasonable all of a sudden. This is one reason why they did not get into the Big 12. Their general counsel (lawyers) is a piece of work."
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and coach Bronco Mendenhall are said to favor a move to the Big East, but BYU President Cecil Samuelson and the school’s general counsel haven’t been as receptive. That is unless the Cougars can retain their home television rights, which is unheard of for a conference school.
On the heels of McMurphy's report today, Jay Drew added that BYU is also reluctant to to join the Big East because its leadership still has extremely ill will towards NBC/Comcast due to the way the school believes it was treated when still a member of the Mountain West Conference. With the Big East's television rights up for grabs beginning next year, it is widely believed that NBC/Comcast, already rebuffed in their efforts to get in on the PAC 12 and Big 12 media right deals will make every effort to land at least part of the Big East's television rights. BYU, then, is hesitant to sign off on joining the conference if perhaps it means once again dealing with Comcast.
All of this uncertainty with BYU has delayed the announcement of those schools that, according to McMurphy, are already willing to come aboard: Central Florida, Houston, SMU, and Boise State. Those schools are beginning to grow impatient as additional western team(s) are sought out to be travel partners for Boise State to form a western division. It is widely thought that the Big East could look to San Diego State to be Boise State's travel partner despite it's obvious geographical absurdity.