Thursday, August 4. 2011
Posted by Sideshow in Red, Blue And Pigskin
Do you feel it? The excitement that's been bubbling just under the surface for the last six months? The anticipation that has only been enhanced by the most momentous off season in this state's history? The tingling feeling that can mean only one thing, Football Is Back!
With the Utes reporting to camp on Thursday, and the Cougars beginning work this weekend on Saturday, the long national crisis comes to an end.
No matter how momentous an off season is, it's still just an off season, and nothing beats the actual cracking of helmets and pads.
Camps don't just bring the return of football up on the hill, or down south. It also brings about the return of Red, Blue and Pigskin.
As camps heat up will preview both seasons, and make some predictions for the upcoming football season in general. This week however we will recap the off season that saw the Utes officially join
Also this week I will explain, why Cougar fans must do something that goes against every fiber in their being. They must cheer and root for the Utes. Don't worry Cougar fans you aren't alone, as Boise State, and TCU Fans should also be rooting for Utah.
So without further ado, here is the first Red, Blue And Pigskin of the 2011 season.
Where To Begin
A lot happened during the previous off season. Some of it was just making official what we knew last year. Some of it was a surprise. Some of it won't really have an effect until down the road. A lot of it proved how inept Craig Thompson was as a conference commissioner, and just how lucky both Utah and BYU are to be rid of him, while proving just how unfortunate Boise State is to now have to deal with him.
Either way rarely is an offseason as full of information, and at times excitement as this past one was. Usually when there is this much excitement going into the season, it's usually because great things are expected for a team.
In 2004, there was some national talk that Utah could go undefeated and break into the previously unbreakable barrier of the BCS.
In 2008, BYU fans had a level of excitement as they were preparing to go on their "Quest".
This year though, there is a high level of excitement for both teams, and yet no one is sure what to expect for either team. 6-6 is a possibility for both teams, 10-2 is a possibility for both teams. Predictions are all over the board for both teams. No one knows what to expect. That hasn't stopped preseason excitement from going through the roof.
Not Just For Holidays Anymore
On July 1st, BYU officially left the Mountain West Conference to
However winning by itself isn't enough. BYU must win against high level competition, and while the Cougars do play Texas, Ole Miss, and Utah this year, quality competition isn't exactly on high supply on this year's schedule. Something that must absolutely change in future schedules.
Moving On Up
While July 1st saw the Cougars celebrating Independence day 3 days early in Provo, the Utes were celebrating on that day in the State Capitol as well. The move that was part of last year's major shakeup in the College Football landscape became official, as Utah became a member of the Pac-12, along with Colorado.
This is a move that will see Utah's competition make an extreme jump. Gone are the days of New Mexico, UNLV, and Wyoming. Instead the Utes will now face such stiff competition as Washington State, Colorado, and UCLA.
Oh and they also face USC every year, with the Oregon Ducks thrown in 10 out of every 12 years.
Dollar Dollar Bills Y'all
One big reward for both the Cougars and Utes, is the amount of money that both team will now reap, and be able to re-invest in their programs. Gone is the paltry 1.5 million per year of the MWC TV Deal.
The numbers for the ESPN contract haven't been made publicly available. There is a lot of speculation out there, but it does seem the consensus is, that BYU will be getting a minimum of $800k per home game on ESPN. Oh, and they don't have to share.
Utah on the other hand, must scale up to the TV money. They will receive $0 from the Pac-12 TV Contract in 2011, followed by a 50% share in 2012, and a 75% share in 2013, before becoming fully invested in 2014.
That's the bad news. The good news is that starting in 2012, the new Pac 12 TV Deal kicks in. This is a TV Deal that is the richest in the land, and will see each team garner about $21 million per year. Utah's 50% in 2012, still means they will have gotten more in 2011, and 2012 than they received the entire time they were under the MWC tv contract. The 75% in 2013 alone, is more than they would have received had they stayed for the entire life of the MWC contract. Only this time, people will actually be able to see their games.
None of those figures take into effect the money from the new Pac 12 Championship game, which will see the Utah get $2 million per year staring in 2011, and the newly announced Pac 12 TV Networks (yes plural), which Utah will receive a full share of immediately.
Then there are the Bowl Payouts. Utah will receive a conference share of bowl payouts from such prestigious bowls as the Rose Bowl, and Holiday Bowl. Cougar fans can rest assured knowing they already know their postseason destination, for the next three years.
Not Rid Of Each Other Yet
With the two teams headed in different directions, you would think that outside of the Rivalry game, the two teams wouldn't really need each other anymore. Or to put it another way, the two fan bases, wouldn't need to worry about how the other team is doing, and would be free to hope for the worst for their rival team.
That's not true, kind of.
In truth one group needs the other team to do well, more than the other way around.
While the Utes are officially a member of the BCS now, they are still being considered the flag bearer for the Non-AQ's. The argument used against Non-AQ's for the past 12 years is that they couldn't hold up under the week in, week out demands of a BCS Conference Schedule.
The last time a team from a Non BCS conference made the jump was in 2004 when UConn, and 2005 when Louisville, and South Florida all joined the Big East. The difference between now and then though is UConn was coming from FCS status, and all three were more of a Basketball member. This was all part of the ACC/Big East shake up, created primarily for Basketball reasons. If they were competitive in Football, it was a bonus.
Times have changed in the last 6 years. Football is now in control, and drives the sports landscape.
This is the first time in the BCS era, that a top Non-AQ team is making the jump. This is the first time that the theory is up for a legitimate test. If Utah fails, it hurts all Non-AQ teams. The BCS will use it to show that they were right all the time. It will be pointed to as the reason why there are "Haves" and "Have Nots". Any top Non-AQ team, will hear the doubters even louder. The schedule argument will be deafening. It will be the example of why we don't need a playoff. Success, while not completely opening the door for Non-AQ's, does help the argument. Playoff proponents will use it to argue that a playoff is necessary, and that these teams can compete. An argument that will only be helped by TCU joining the Big East in 2012.
Sure BYU will be getting a lot of push, at least the first couple years, from the ESPN Contract. They also don't have the stigma of the MWC on them. But they are still a Non-AQ Team. In fact, in terms of BCS Access BYU is less than a Non-AQ.
If BYU finishes a season with an undefeated record, it's not out of the realm of possibility they could finish outside the top 2, but in say the top 5. Now say a 1 loss Boise State or TCU finishes in the top 12 of the BCS Rankings. Guess who gets the Automatic Non-AQ Bid. I'll give you a hint, they aren't from Provo. The only guarantee that BYU gets for BCS access is if it finishes in the top 2.
BYU is really susceptible to the schedule argument. BYU's schedule in the next two years is terrible. In fact as of right now it's 2011 Strength of schedule is ranked about 50 spots lower than their final MWC record. It's something that must change if BYU wants to be nationally relevant as an independent, but it's something that couldn't be helped in these next two years.
So as much as it pains them, it would be wise for BYU Fans to hope for, and root for Utah to be successful in the Pac-12. At least for the first few years. But you aren't alone Cougar fans, because TCU and Boise State fans, should also be cheering on Utah. Right now, even as a member of the club, Utah is still the flag bearer for Non-AQ's. Next Year, TCU makes the jump. They make the jump to a much easier conference. In Fact one could argue the conference they are joining is easier than the one they are leaving. But for now, a lot of judgement on Non-AQ's will be based on how well Utah performs.
For the next few weeks I will be previewing BYU and Utah's season. I will also preview a bit of Utah State, who happen to have the best LB, and best RB in the state. I'll do a run through of the Pac-12 conference. There will also be some wild predictions.
Finally, the last week of August we will be talking about actual games that are about to be played.
Time to get excited folks. Camps are back in session, and Football is back.
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Sigh. Where do I begin?
The minute the U left the MWC to go to the PAC-12 they ceased being any sort of flag bearer for non-AQ teams. The BCS is actually HAPPY now that the U is in the pac-12. Now they don't have to worry about them going undefeated and spoiling the party. They can also point to the fact that the U "earned" its way into the BCS by showing years of consistent winning (man it pains me to write that). They can shout "see! the system works!" when in fact it doesn't. Accepting entrance to the PAC-12 was hush money. Don't get me wrong, they should have taken it and I would have been excited if the Y had been invited as well. But it is what it is: bribe money to go away.
The Y on the other hand, is now the ultimate flag bearer for non-AQ teams, with Boise State coming in second. The Y does not have a guaranteed BCS game if they finish in the top 5. The true injustice comes if BYU finishes undefeated, but doesn't get a BCS game.
So what about the argument that the Y has a weak schedule? It is not any weaker than the schedules Boise St has had over the last few years. And why not? What is the incentive? Without a playoff system, the goal is to win every game to make the big payday of the flawed BCS. Look what happened to Boise St last year, they lost one game on a very cold night in OT because their kicker missed 2 go-ahead FGs. They had 2 wins over top 25 teams. And yet the loss to a ranked team cost them a BCS birth and matched them up with a highly overrated Utah team (cheap shot I know... but I had to make it :)
So the financial incentive is to win all of your games. No matter who it's against. It's not BYU's fault that their are 119 teams in college football and only a handful are willing to schedule them. Not to mention that BYU will probably have a harder schedule than the Big "we are a joke of a conference" East. UCONN had 4 losses last year, FOUR!, and zero victories over ranked teams. And they get a BCS pay day??? Really??
I'm sorry my friend, but while I don't fault the U for taking the blood money (as I would have too), there is no way I can hope for their success.
Here's to the U going 6-6 this year!
If you honestly believe that the BCS wouldn't use Utah falling flat on their face in the Pac 12 against BUY and all the top Non AQ's, then you haven't been paying attention the last 20 years. Yes even before the BCS was created they were looking for any way to keep the haves and have nots separated.
You right part of the reason the Utes got the invite when Texas turned them down was fear of the upcoming MWC.
As for the schedule Boise State had something that BUY doesn't have. An automatic in. For BYU simply being undefeated isn't enough. They have to be undefeated with a schedule that isn't an absolute joke.
Also BYU's own coach has stated on multiple occasions that a national championship is the goal (second to winning the state). That will never happen unless the cheerful improves to at least the level of Mountain West schedule.
Truth is, despite what everyone at the school says, BYU doesn't want to be independent when the ESPN contact is finished. This is a something Bronco actually all but said at Media day when he said that if they win they will achieve "inclusion" into the BCS. This may be the only easy a schedule like they have is acceptable since they should be able to win with it.
However it its for this last reason that Utah not falling flat on their face, and being competitive is in BYU's best interest.
Here don't just take my word for it.
Just in case the Tucson Citizen isn't enough of a respectable publication for you:
You're right. Neither one of those publications (or writers) are respectable enough for me :)
Yea but that's only because they disagree with you, and even moreso agree with me.