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BYU football: Rumors fly that that Cougars are going independent

Sources say that all sports except football will compete in the WAC

It started on Tuesday evening and then picked up steam around the internet with rumors flying that BYU is taking a hard look at becoming an independent in football and joining its former conference, the WAC, for all other sports.

Much of the conversation started back on July 31 with Dick Harmon's column about the possibilities of an independent BYU, how it might work and why it might be the school's best option.

Jeff Goodman, who writes a community blog for Fox Sports seems to have revved things up Tuesday with his Tweet (account Goodmanonfox) that says, "Hearing from multiple sources there's a strong possibility that BYU goes to the WAC in hoop and becomes independent in football." He hasn't yet written anything for his community blog, found here. Also on Tuesday the Colorado State football Twitter account (CSUFootball) added a schedule rumor to the other speculation. It said, "BYU to go independent in football in 2011. Cougars will join the WAC for all other sports. Press conference scheduled for Thursday," in a tweet that found a wide viral audience.

In this story, WAC commissioner Karl Benson declined to comment about the situation when contacted by the Idaho Statesman late Tuesday. He replied via text message: "No comment."

ESPN writer Andy Katz says the deal hinges on the school's feedback from the BCS on how its football team would be viewed and if it met the same criteria that Notre Dame does to be included in BCS games if it would get the same treatment. He also reminds readers that Benson said earlier in the summer that his WAC conference "would give consideration to" the Cougars in other sports if BYU went independent.

Katz says, "Rival Utah's move to the Pac-10 has given BYU the impetus to seriously explore the possibility of leaving the Mountain West, going independent in football and re-joining the WAC in all other sports, multiple sources told Tuesday."

Nobody has actually named any sources so far but there is a lot of smoke, just no confirmed fire. Mountain West Conference rules require that a school send notice by September 1 before is can escape the conference for the following year, creating a sort of deadline for BYU to make its intentions clear for 2011. summarizes Harmon's work on the story and adding his own information (also unnamed sources) that something may be going down. Read it here.

Jay Drew at the Salt Lake Tribune went back and did some research, listening to what Tom Holmoe said in a July 16 meeting about BYU's television capability and its broadcast power to put everything in HD.

Drew wrote: "What stands out is how many times Holmoe mentioned BYU's new state-of-the-art broadcast facility just east of the Marriott Center, and how "there is nothing better than that west of the Mississippi. Nothing. For broadcasting. And it is first class. The things that we can do with that, the opportunities and possibilities (are amazing). Nobody in the country has that ability." Read his entire blog entry here.

By early Wednesday morning reporters all over Utah and the nation will be making calls and sending texts and e-mails, trying to get somebody to go on record and confirm or deny all these reports. No doubt the Mountain West Conference and Western Athletic Conference schools will have a lot of communicating to do even if there isn't any truth to any of this. And, if any of these reports are on the money, it will forever change the landscape of BYU athletics. Stay tuned!