Two days ago BYU looked certain to move the bulk of their athletic program to the WAC and become quasi-independent in football. Not anymore. The Mountain West pulled off a last minute coup, signing away Fresno State and Nevada. It’s now expected BYU will stay, leaving the WAC down two teams with their plan in ruins. Subsequent revelations about the conspiracy known as “The Project” show that ESPN was intimately involved.
BYU and the then WAC teams agreed to a “Memorandum of Understanding.” Essentially, the deal would have made BYU full members of the WAC, except for three salient factors. BYU would not be a member for football, playing a limited WAC schedule they would be allowed to control. BYU would keep all BCS revenue. BYU would also get to keep 100 percent of its football television revenue, from a new deal with ESPN.
The school’s own “ESPN agreement” explicitly named and worked into the deal. ESPN director of collegiate sports programs Burke Magnus reportedly told WAC Commissioner Karl Benson he would not discuss a new deal for the WAC “until after the BYU deal gets done.”
MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has to come out the winner in all of this. They keep BYU. They are adding Boise State to replace Utah in 2011. Adding Fresno State and Nevada, they move to 11 teams, one team away from the 12 needed for a championship game.
[Photo via Getty]