Why BYU needs the Mountain West

MW NOT EXACTLY SADDENED BY BYU STRUGGLES

On that classic TV show, “Seinfeld,” owning the advantage over someone was called “the hand,” and now — for the first time — the Mountain West has the hand when it comes to Brigham Young.

The hand, or the upper hand, is important because it means the Mountain West doesn’t need BYU as much as the Cougars need a conference home to increase their chances of participating in the College Football Playoff. And only the Mountain West would provide such a home.

The Pac-12 won’t. Neither will the Big 12, despite BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall’s embarrassing plea over the summer to get into that conference.

If BYU never rejoins the Mountain West, the conference will continue to conduct business just like it has since the Cougars left in 2011 in a fit of jealousy over rival Utah’s departure to the Pac-12. BYU administrators and supporters will always believe that should’ve been them.

This was the season for the Cougars to prove that independence worked, but after opening 4-0 and achieving a No. 18 ranking, they lost quarterback Taysom Hill for the season with a broken leg and then proceeded to go 0-4, with three of those loss to Mountain West schools. Yes, they probably will beat UNLV on Nov. 15, but that won’t change the fact Mountain West schools owned the Cougars.

The move to independence always seemed odd. If Utah had never gone to the Pac-12, it’s difficult to imagine the Cougars leaving. They love to talk about their schedules against big-name teams, but their seasons end in pre-arranged mediocre bowls with no conference championship trophy to play for.

How do you sell recruits on that, especially with Utah up the road beating Southern California?

It is true the Mountain West would take back BYU tomorrow, but no one in the league is staying up nights thinking about it, either. The conference also isn’t likely to repeat its Boise State mistake and create a separate playing field, which did nothing but engender hard feelings throughout the conference and did little to make the league better.

Because BYU and its fans have been so strong in their support of independence, moving back to the Mountain West would be tricky for the school. Some sort of face-saving move would have to take place.

And while the Mountain West would be willing to work with BYU, that’s more the Cougars’ problem than the conference’s.

The Mountain West, after all, is the one with the hand.

AROUND THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Boise State released a statement Tuesday saying it would provide the money for the full cost of a scholarship if the change goes into effect at the national level. It’s noticeable no other league school put out a similar release. Boise State is the only Mountain West football program bringing in enough money to afford it, and this further separates the Broncos from the pack. … Quarterback Garrett Grayson is Colorado State’s career leader in touchdown passes (53) and completions (587). He earlier set the school record with career passing yards, which now is up to 7,640. His top target, Rashard Higgins, leads the nation with 1,137 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches. … Fresno State redshirt freshman Zack Greenlee will receive his first start at quarterback Saturday against Wyoming. … UNR had the ball for 24:26 in the second half of its 26-18 comeback victory at Hawaii.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Boise State (6-2, 3-1). Last game: Defeated Brigham Young 55-30. Next game: at New Mexico, Nov. 8. Last meeting: Won 45-17 in 2013. Line: N/A.

2. Colorado State (7-1, 3-1 MW). Last game: Defeated Wyoming 45-31. Next game: at San Jose State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 34-27 in 2013. Line: Colorado State -7.

3. Utah State (5-3, 2-1). Last game: Defeated UNLV 34-20. Next game: at Hawaii, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 47-10 in 2013. Line: Utah State -3.

4. UNR (5-3, 2-2). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 26-18. Next game: vs. San Diego State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 51-44 (OT) in 2013. Line: UNR -3.

5. San Diego State (4-3, 3-1). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 20-10. Next game: at UNR, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 51-44 (OT) in 2013. Line: UNR -3.

6. Air Force (5-2, 2-2). Last game: Defeated New Mexico 35-31. Next game: at Army, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 42-28 in 2013. Line: Air Force -3½.

7. San Jose State (3-4, 2-1). Last game: Lost to Navy 41-31. Next game: vs. Colorado State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 34-27 in 2013. Line: Colorado State -7.

8. Fresno State (3-5, 2-2). Last game: Lost to Boise State 37-27. Next game: vs. Wyoming, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 48-10 in 2013. Line: Fresno State -12.

9. Hawaii (2-6, 1-2). Last game: Lost to UNR 26-18. Next game: vs. Utah State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 47-10 in 2013. Line: Utah State -3.

10. Wyoming (3-5, 1-3). Last game: Lost to Colorado State 45-31. Next game: at Fresno State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 48-10 in 2013. Line: Fresno State -12.

11. UNLV (2-6, 1-3). Last game: Lost to Utah State 34-20. Next game: vs. New Mexico, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 56-42 in 2013. Line: Pick ‘em.

12. New Mexico (2-5, 0-3). Last game: Lost to Air Force 35-31. Next game: at UNLV, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 56-42 in 2013. Line: Pick ‘em.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Air Force at Army. The Falcons will try to win the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2011 and clinch bowl eligibility. It would be an incredible turnaround from last season’s 2-10 stink-fest.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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