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One Reason Why BYU Would Join The AAC

(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – It is not officially summer until there is conference realignment news, and UConn fulfilled the annual tradition. The Huskies announced that they are planning on leaving the American Athletic Conference to take its non-football sports to the Big East. Their football program’s destination is very much up in the air at the moment.

The football move is in particular interest to BYU since the American now has just 11 football members and getting to a 12th would make life much easier to host a lucrative conference championship game. The Cougars and AAC were far along in talks for the two to get together, but in the end, an agreement was not palatable for both sides.

Six years has seen a lot has happened with BYU and the AAC. The Cougars independent schedule has continued to get stronger and stronger with Power 5 programs on the slate, including multiple home games. The American has established itself as the premiere Group of Five league with UCF going to back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl games.

What Will It Take For BYU To Join The AAC?

KSL Sports’ Spencer Linton has firm thoughts on BYU possibly teaming up with the American, and the cons vastly outweigh the pros for the Cougars to join a Group of Five league.

However, there is one thing that could convince BYU to join the AAC.

“What it means for BYU ultimately is… nada, nothing. BYU is not getting out of independence anytime soon to go to the American when they have a better financial deal in place and it is not close then they would get if they were to join the American Athletic scenario,” Linton said on KSL’s Unrivaled.

Money is a big deal for BYU as an independent with their payday from its deal with ESPN ranging between $800,000 to $1.2 million per home game, per reports. So, a deal with a non-power conference would need to be much more than they are getting now to be worth. Plus, keep in mind that BYU is working with ESPN for a contract extension.

“The one scenario that would put BYU in the AAC that the Cougars would be okay with, and that is if they got a deal from ESPN with a deal like Boise State has with the Mountain West,” Linton added.

That deal that Boise State has with the Mountain West is a separate contract from the rest of the league that pays the Broncos more money than the rest of the conference and guarantees five of its six home games are on an ESPN network.


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“The conference as a whole would have to sign off on that. Guess what, that is not reality and is not going to happen unless something comes down from heaven and lands in Provo where there is a perfect scenario,” Linton said. “I just don’t see a situation like that happening for BYU and a Group of Five conference like Boise State has with the Mountain West. For now, it means nothing.”

This type of deal that would make it attractive for BYU to join the AAC this time around is the exact same reason the two never hooked up six years ago. The Cougars wanted a deal in which they had say and control over its home TV package.

Getting that control from the AAC is not likely to happen again and BYU is probably fine with that. The Cougars will continue to go down the independent path where the school can be patient for a potential call up to a power league, and in the meantime keep earning a nice paycheck from ESPN and having a solid schedule year in and year out.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.