ESPN officials haven't said much publicly since news surfaced last week that BYU has been laying the groundwork to go independent in football.
According to reports, the all-sports network was working to be a partner with the Cougars in televising, and helping schedule, football and basketball games.
ESPN spokesman Michael Humes told the Deseret News last week that "BYU initiated a discussion with ESPN. The conversation will remain private."
In today's Birmingham News, though, Jon Solomon conducted a Q&A with ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming Burke Magnus. Among other topics, Solomon asked Magnus some specific questions about BYU and its viability as a football independent.
Here is an excerpt of that Q&A:
Question: How attractive is BYU to television as an independent? (Note: The interview with Magnus occurred before a report by the The Denver Post that BYU will likely remain in the Mountain West.)
Answer: "It's hard to say. You have to consider who they would be playing. BYU, to me, is a great brand and has a solid history of excellent performance on the fields and on the courts. I think they would have had a good time of it as an independent in terms of putting their best foot forward and build a BYU brand independently. Ultimately, their departure was a lot of rumors and until they actually make the leap, it's difficult to say."
Question: How difficult would it be for ESPN to help set up enough home-and-home football games for BYU as an independent?
Answer: "I think they could have slipped right into our mechanism to fill schedules and word would have spread pretty quickly that they had availability. They have a history of having pretty good teams coming to play in Provo. Texas just did a home-and-home with them. They had Notre Dame there over the years. I presume they'll continue to play Utah. I think it would have been an interesting proposition to have sort of the mountain version of Notre Dame."
Question: Is it done now for BYU to be an independent since the Mountain West countered by adding Nevada and Fresno State from the WAC?
Answer: "I'm not sure. I think they obviously have to evaluate a much different landscape than where they were a week ago."
Question: There are reports that ESPN and BYU talked about a deal for four BYU home game on ESPN for up to $4 million. Is that accurate?
Answer: "I can only say our company statement. We had conversations with them."