Does BYU want the University of Utah in the Big 12?

That’s a question inquiring minds want to know as editors and I kicked around the question during a meeting. Afterward one of them called for my opinion.

My answer is pretty simple.

It depends upon who you ask.

Define BYU.

If you ask BYU fans, I think the majority of them would say no. That was my guess before doing a Twitter poll, and when the poll got traction on Thursday it was confirmed — albeit those kind of straw polls must be taken with a grain of salt.

If you ask BYU’s administration, comprised of the president and athletic director, they’d probably say why not? If the school is anxious to keep the mantra it had during independence — play anyone, anytime, anywhere — then why wouldn’t you want your chief rival in the league? Bring it on.

If you ask the Board of Trustees, the governing body that oversees BYU operations and the entity that would have the final say if BYU were to vote, I think the answer, from a historical perspective, would be “yes,” because it would be the neighborly thing to do.

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All three opinions are valid. All have their points. All have been fodder for great discussions on message boards and other social media forums.

If you just go by the greatest number of bodies who claim allegiance to BYU — the fans — the majority is a strong no. A good number of BYU fans would say they would like it, but according to my straw poll 64.5% to 35.5% would be against it. This poll had 8,391 respondents four hours into a 24-hour run.

Why?

There are a lot of reasons. Primarily, some found the Pac-12 dismissive of BYU when it expanded over a decade ago. It was the ivory tower. Elitist and snobbish. So, the thinking goes, let it all burn, Utah with it.

Many BYU fans felt Utah threw its Pac-12 membership in their faces. They point to canceled games and a perceived move by Utah administrators to “make BYU irrelevant.” Why would you reward that?

So, in a nutshell, that’s it.

In reality, and I’ve gone on the record last winter saying Utah would be a great addition to the Big 12. Its football program is a legit top-10 program under Kyle Whittingham

TV partners put a premium on brands and rivalries. They love the passion they bring to the screen and there are few equal to the BYU-Utah rivalry. The winner would be the Big 12 as a whole.

But if you took a pulse of the answer to this question from BYU fans, I’d say they do not want Utah in their league. 

They’ll also cite a small but loud group of Utah fans who have poisoned Big 12 fans toward Utah. These few have taken to social media and trashed the Big 12 in recent months. Gathering steam from places like West Virginia, Iowa, Texas and Kansas, these Ute fans have brought a huge negative cloud upon Utah as a prospective member.

Here’s a sampling of some feedback from BYU and Utah fans on my Twitter poll and elsewhere:

In a microcosm, the Stanford situation (fan support at games) is a peek into why the Pac-12 is having TV contract issues and losing teams like USC, UCLA and Colorado.

A UCF fan had a genuine question about Utah in all the deliberations and social media back and forth the past few months. Writes Christian Simmons:

So, as you can see, any chatter about BYU and Utah will bring out the blood in this storied rivalry. Why shouldn’t it take peaks and valleys over being in the same conference once again?

These are the mild snippets of rivalry talk.

You should see the diehards go at it.

Does BYU want Utah in the Big 12?

Depends on your definition of who represents BYU and who you ask.