Could BYU Play An ‘Independent-Heavy’ Schedule In 2020?

Jul 16, 2020, 7:15 PM | Updated: 11:01 pm

PROVO, Utah – To pull off a football season in 2020, BYU has to be open minded to anything. That includes being receptive to the possibility of playing a bunch of Independent programs that don’t include Notre Dame.

After losing five games by the decisions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 to move to Conference-Only schedules, BYU can’t rule anything out.

BYU was part of a Zoom Call with Independent ADs

New Mexico State’s Athletic Director Mario Moccia told 247Sports’ Chris Hummer that he was part of one Zoom conversation with athletic directors at Army, UConn, UMass, Liberty, and Tom Holmoe from BYU discussing schedule opportunities between the six Independents.

Moccia noted to 247Sports he didn’t feel it was a “heavy conversation.” But later said, “The thought was that nobody is taking anything off the table.”

Who’s ready for BYU to play four games this season against New Mexico State and UConn?

When its two games against Big Ten foes ended up canceled last week, BYU issued a statement saying they “will continue to have discussions with other universities and our stakeholders to make the best possible decisions for our student-athletes and our athletic program.”

There’s no giving up on BYU’s end, but these circumstances created by COVID-19 are as difficult as anything the Cougars Independent path has faced since making the move from the Mountain West in 2010.

Speaking of the MWC, would BYU’s old league help the Cougars out in regards to scheduling? Brett McMurphy told KSL Sports’ Cougar Sports Saturday that he “doesn’t see the MWC extending an olive branch” to BYU like the ACC is doing with Notre Dame. The ACC has stated that they will schedule as many games as the Irish need in 2020.

Outlook for 2020 BYU Football Schedule

Last season, Independents Liberty, UMass, UConn, Army, and New Mexico State post an 18-44 record last season. That’s not pretty. Especially when you consider eight of those wins were courtesy of Liberty. But this is the hand COVID-19 has been dealt to BYU and the rest of Independent programs without a major conference affiliation on the gridiron.

In a perfect scenario for the upcoming season, BYU is able to maintain their current seven games on the 2020 schedule and then fill the gaps with the aforementioned Independents or even get another game against Power 5 team. Is that likely to happen? Probably not. If leagues follow the Big Ten and Pac-12’s lead on moving to Conference-Only schedules.

Another scheduling avenue BYU could turn to is finding another FCS foe. Idaho State has always been a partner that is willing to help BYU when needed and they make a lot of sense regionally. Dixie State is another option as they are a new FCS program.  Like BYU, Dixie State operates as an Independent in their subdivision.

The NCAA announced last week that FBS programs can count two wins against FCS teams towards bowl eligibility in 2020.

But if the current seven games that are scheduled end up going away due to leagues shifting to Conference-Only schedules, how does the thought of home-and-home’s with Liberty sound? Not ideal. Unless you watch the video posted by Boney Fuller, then you’re sure to get a chuckle out of BYU’s difficult situation.

But always remember, a bunch of games against Liberty is better than the alternative which is no football at all.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Could BYU Play An ‘Independent-Heavy’ Schedule In 2020?