Brigham Young University officials and coaches trumpeted their football independence — set to begin in 2011 — far and wide last week by saying the Mountain West Conference to which they belong is not meeting their needs in terms of exposure, television revenue and access to opponents they most wanted to play.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they still have to play seven of the MWC schools they are spurning (Utah is also leaving league in 2011) this season, beginning Saturday when they travel to Air Force.
To say BYU is going to face some hostile crowds and opponents is probably putting it mildly, if Internet message boards, sports talk-radio chatter and reader comments accompanying online newspaper articles are any indication.
The Cougars’ final tour of the MWC could get nasty, although several MWC football coaches, including Colorado State’s Steve Fairchild, Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and San Diego State’s Brady Hoke downplayed the angst during Tuesday’s league teleconference. Their remarks belied some earlier, more vitriolic comments published weeks ago when the Cougars’ plans to bolt the MWC first became known.