The West Virginia Mountaineers square off with the Brigham Young University Cougars on Saturday, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, in what will be the first ever meeting between the two programs, but there's something about this matchup that feels natural (at least to me).
It's no secret that BYU has gone all-in on wanting to be the 11th member of the Big 12 Conference, and hope to show the Powers That Be they belong in the conference by handing the Mountaineers their first loss of the season.
But I believe, regardless of the outcome and from a pure West Virginia fan standpoint, the Cougars belong in the Big 12 Conference.
First and foremost, having BYU in the Big 12 would give the Mountaineers a unique cross-division rivalry that I believe both fanbases could buy into. The two programs are as different as night and day, but somehow there seems to be some familiarity that just feels right. BYU fans have been very active on social media, going back and forth with Mountaineer fans and just making the lead up to this game more fun. Yes, they fall back on the typical “West Virginia hillbilly” stereotypes somethimes, but they’ve managed to take the malicious intent that usually accompanies it out of it. I mean, I’m sorry, if you can’t laugh at this video then you need to relax a little and not take things so seriously.
We’ll see how I feel about this potential rivalry after tomorrow’s game, but as of right now I’d be all for playing the Cougars every year. I mean, who’s more hateable than the folks that are constantly knocking on your door?
Out of all the Big 12 expansion candidates remaining, BYU poses the least threat to the Mountaineers in terms of recruiting. Cincinnati, Houston or any of the Florida schools in the Big 12 would create another Power 5 program in West Virginia’s recruiting area, which in turn could cause the Mountaineers to miss out on some of the quality recruits they’ve been able to snag in the last couple years.
BYU’s recruiting base is mostly made up of California, the Pacific Northwest and, of course, Utah. West Virginia rarely pulls a recruit out of those areas, so having the Cougars in the Big 12 shouldn’t effect West Virginia’s recruiting much at all. It makes more sense to have BYU and one of the other candidates that potentially could impact West Virginia’s recruiting instead of two programs that could do some damage.
They’re Already A Power 5 Program
Face the facts, BYU is already a Power 5 caliber program. The Cougars should be able to step right into the Big 12 and remain competitive. That’s not saying the other schools couldn’t do the same, but we have experienced the growing pains of moving to a tougher conference ourselves and I think BYU would have the least amount of issues making the move.
Add in the fact that the BYU alumni base is literally everywhere. No matter where BYU travels their fans pack the stadium, and I expect to see the same tomorrow at FedEx Field. A wide-spread alumni base opens up a unique footprint for the Big 12. Salt Lake City is one of the larger television markets, coming in at No. 34 on the Neilsen rankings. But with alumni all over the country, BYU can draw more eyes to the Big 12 in markets not already in the Big 12 footprint.
Now, whether or not the Big 12 actually expands is up in the air right now, and the odds seem to be decreasing every day, but I’m throwing my support behind the Cougars for Big 12 inclusion, much like West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen has, and I believe all Mountaineer fans should do the same.