Brigham Young had plenty of co-conspirators in its planned move out of the Mountain West Conference. Utah State for one. ESPN for another.
Yes, that's right. The four-letter network was involved from the beginning.
Documents and email correspondence obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune through an open records request detailed how the Cougars planned to declare their independence in football and join the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports.
Utah State president Stan Albrecht, who has been criticized for not accepting an offer to move the Aggies from the WAC to the Mountain West after news of BYU's planned move began to trickle out, had incentive to stay the course. He had masterminded with WAC commissioner Karl Benson, BYU president Cecil Samuelson, Fresno State president John Welty, Nevada president Milt Glick and ESPN to spring the Cougars.
Reaction from a crazy day that saw Brigham Young on the verge of becoming an independent in football and Fresno State and Nevada announcing that they would be leaving the Western Athletic Conference in order to join the Mountain West. The situation remains fluid. Follow The Wiz on Twitter to get the latest developments.
Jeff Call, Deseret News: As of late Wednesday, BYU was still a member of the Mountain West. "We are aware of the many media reports and questions circulating about BYU's conference alignment," associate athletic director Duff Tittle said in a statement. "As director of athletics Tom Holmoe explained recently, BYU has been reviewing, and will continue to explore, every option to advance its athletic program. At this point, BYU has no further comment."
Dan Rasmussen, Deseret News: BYU fans are supportive of the Cougars' move to independence. "I think it's a great idea," said Ron Allen, 65, of Salt Lake City. "It'll allow us to play some top teams in the nation." He was one of many fans to use two words: "Notre" and "Dame."
Brad Rock, Deseret News: BYU's future was crystal clear for about six
hours. Then Fresno State and Nevada decided they
didn't like the plan.
KITV: Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan said the school will look into
becoming an independent in football if the WAC should crumble. Link to video.
Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal: Nevada did
not sign the WAC's $5 million buyout clause that would have made it
prohibitive to consider a move to the Mountain West, multiple sources
with knowledge of the situation have told the newspaper.
Jim Rayburn, Deseret News: Being an independent in football presents many challenges. Just ask Notre Dame, Army and Navy.
Fresno State's Jamel Hamler catches a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Colburn with two seconds left against Illinois, setting up this two-point try by the Bulldogs. Watch as 350-pound offensive lineman Devan Cunningham catches a deflected pass and stumbles across the goal line, giving Fresno State the 53-52 victory.
After the jump is Fresno State's winning drive in it entirety.
Pat Hill still has two seasons left on his deal with Fresno State, but fans are growing restless with the coach as he enters his 13th season at the school.
Hill's tough attitude and willingness to take on all comers made him a fan favorite, but the program has never regained its footing since a 50-42 loss at USC in 2005, a spectacular game that secured the Heisman Trophy for Reggie Bush.
The Bulldogs fell hard, a tailspin of 11 losses in 12 games. Overall, they are 20-22 since the loss to the Trojans.
Clearly the momentum is gone and Hill knows it. He interviewed at Washington and openly talked about it. The strategy backfired. Fresno State fans responded by purchasing only 161 tickets for the Bulldogs' appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.