The Stat Guy: BYU a good option for Big 12

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Senior running back Bryan Kariya, No. 33 above, shakes off a defender in the Cougars’ 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week.
Senior running back Bryan Kariya, No. 33 above, shakes off a defender in the Cougars’ 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week.

Never has college football seen such a whirlwind in conference realignment. Yes, beloved conferences have been disbanded over the years, such as the classic Southwest Conference (1914-1996), but nothing at this accelerated pace. Last year, Nebraska and Colorado bid farewell to the Big 12, and now the conference is on the brink of extinction with Texas A&M’s imminent departure.

So what is the Big 12 to do? There are two options, the first of which is give up, let the conference break apart and potentially lose money and historic rivalries. Or, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe can add to the conference. You may be asking yourself, what schools are out there? The answer is quite simple: Brigham Young University.

The Big 12 North Division hasn’t had much success in football in recent years and is especially vulnerable now without the Cornhuskers or the Buffaloes. Adding a school like BYU would contribute serious talent to the division and open up the West Coast audience to the conference. Some skeptics out there don’t believe the Cougars (a recently declared independent school) could succeed in a BCS division; however, the statistics could certainly raise some eyebrows.

To start, BYU has never lost to Texas in football. Albeit the two teams have only met twice on the gridiron, but the Cougars held their ground against the Longhorns with a 47-6 win in 1988. BYU has never lost to Oklahoma, most recently defeating the Sooners in 2009 with a score of 14-13, a game in which Sam Bradford was knocked out of the game. BYU’s winningest coach, LaVell Edwards, tallied his first win against current Big 12 member Kansas State.

BYU has posted an impressive 8-3 record against current Big 12 schools since 1980, and their all-time record of 12-14 is not too shabby. Certainly, these are numbers worthy of consideration.

Football, however, isn’t the only item taken into consideration when realignment talks occur. Schools have to provide athletic opportunities to many student athletes that stretch far beyond the football field. BYU fields 21 NCAA varsity teams and consistently finished at the top of its old conference, the Mountain West Conference (80 conference titles, including 14 of 17 in 2007). In 2005-06, 234 student athletes made the Academic all-MWC team, a conference high. The school has excellent facilities, a great fan base, very strong academics and has established a winner’s reputation. The Big 12 would be smart to sign the Cougars up right now.