Sometimes the best journalism is connecting all the dots. I am surprised, none have really done this until today. Yet I noticed the moment CBS Correspondent McMurphy’s story broke about BYU talks breaking down, that the almost National Enquiresqe level of vitriol leveled towards BYU as being unreasonable and “unwilling to share” sounded a little to much like Barak obama telling Joe the Plumber it was nbetter to spread around other people’s wealth. CBS rushed to break the story first and spared no colors in an effort to paint BYU as the difficult problem child in the room.
Stop and think about CBS’ position behind the Big-East. Their present east coast TV deal with the conferenc’s basketball programs is about to die on the vine, up for renewal in 90 days. They also have TV rights for football regionaly there. On the other hand, the Big East needs Boise State, Air Force and BYU. Without Air Force, Navy may says no. BYU and Boise State fans are actually a pretty close nit group. Many BSU fans are making the talk show rounds with rumblings like, “No to the Beast without BYU!” BSU is a future expansion 39,000 seat venue with no media market, while BYU is a national brand and has a 65,000 seat venue. More than that, about 40% of BSU’s fans are Mormons. There is a lot of cross pollination of that love…these would be friendly rivals and like the business ties. With all this in mind, one should consider….Why did CBS kill this deal by making demands it knew by experience BYU would NOT accept?
For starters, look at the present reality. People have taken CBS’ story on face value, without recognizing the source of the story, AND the level of vested interest CBS has in forcing BYU back into the exact same situation it was in when it bailed out of the MWC and then “the MTN” television contract which was owned and carried largely by CBS College Sports. BYU was a CBS propoerty against BYU’s will. BYU got to its withdrawl date and turned away from hte MTN, the MWC and CBS. BYU then signed a very Notre Dame like deal with ESPN and became an Independent. BYU was one of the major reasons the MTN was backed by CBS in the first place. But BYU soon found out that CBS promises to BYU and the conference were never fulfilled. It was a bad deal all around and especially for the biggest draw, BYU. ESPN comes along, pays BYU a real fair market value for what they are worth and then suddenly in the waning moments of negotiations, the CBS backed Big East comes calling with exactly the same demands that led BYU to leave the MWC in the first place. Then CBS breaks the self-serving story that BYU is too difficult to deal with, they are the problem, they refuse to share the wealth. Sound familiar everyone in the flyover states with envious eyes towards Texas?
How is BYU the bad guy in all this? It really looks to me like a business competition between CBS College Sports Network and ESPN underlies the reality right now. We know who will win that battle in a head-to-head in the long run. CBS will take a money losing position to hang onto the Beast for Basketball if need be. But look at how bad the new Beast is become after, losing pernnial top 30 BB programs in WVa, Pitt and Syracuse. The Beast isn’t worth as much and ESPN has the cash to negotiate hard. The last thing CBS wants is a BYU with ESPN coattailes upsetting their apple cart. Then the question becomes, why would the BEAST care if BYU kept it’s ESPN contract. It isn’t difficult for the conference to put together a contingency either-or clause in the contract that would guarantee the conference division of spoils goes equally to all teams, except in the case when one member has a previously negotiated contract in place should the payout value of that contract exceed by 10% the amount that would otherwise be gained through a blanket negotiation covering all members.
This is a no-brainer! So why then is CBS pushing BYU out or forcing BYU to accept another Mountain West Conference boondoggle? Because CBS thinks it can. It is showing its cards. They simply aren’t better than a pair of tens with a high card 8-of-Clubs in the hole. The Beast doesn’t need CBS. CBS has the SEC but not much else. CBS need the Beast to be cooperative and in line…and that means every member in line. The Beast has only five football members left and needs new contracts in a lessened state! Something has to change for Beast and CBS!
Add MARKETS like Orlando (UCF), Dallas (SMU), Houston (UH), the entire Wasatch/Great basin (BYU & Boise), The Front Range/Denver (Air Force) and suddenly the Beast is worth far more than it ever was. CBS wants that martket footprint added to present member areas. Unfortunately, CBS wants it on their terms and BYU has been screwed over by a bad conference commissioner and those exact same CBS terms in the past. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…BYU is looking at that 90 day window and wondering, why should it make any decision right now? Or, why should it give up the two birds in hand for the one possible bird in the bush? The new deal with BYU even holding back it’s rights for home games under the ESPN deal would be worth far more than the Beast’s present expiring deals. If we’ve all learned anything, it is that ESPN is a powerful rival to CBS. CBS does not want anyone with a lot of power and ESPN stepping into what they believe is their territory.
McMurphy’s story was the CBS version of gang bangers tagging a media footprint. When a program like BYU, with a 65,000 seat football venue and 23,000 seat Basketball arena says “NO” loudly to CBS terms and conditions, maybe it’s time for the Beast to sit down with CBS and tell them to back off. CBS does NOT have the Beast’s best interests at heart. The way mcMurphy broke the story tells me the real reasons behind the picture. BYU danced with CBS under the MTN arrangement before, got paid a fraction of its worth for five years and said, no thank you to that arrangement, we won the right to swing all our own deals back in the Barciaga Court (Oklahoma and Georgia vs the NCAA and ABC Sports, 1983). BYU and Current Beast member Pitt were selected by the flegling young all sports network out of Bristol Connecticut to play the ifirst ever nationally televised broadcast by ESPN on September 3rd, 1984. That road win launched BYU into the hearts and minds of fans all over the country (Mormon and non-Mormon alike). History means something to ESPN. BYU played UTAH in the first ever nationally televised game on Thanksgiving Day on NBC back in 1953. BYU’s Philo T. Farnsworth INVENTED sound and video coordinated CRT projection Imaging Device (the TV) back in 1928. BYU and TV go back to the beginning of the entire inductry. History means something. If BYU feels it should have it’s cake and eat it too, perhaps it is because BYU was there with so many critical firsts. Without the genius of Farnsworth to begin with, perhaps we would still be watching games in our minds on the radio.
The only thing the Beast can offer BYU is AQ status for the BCS. Frankly, winning games does the same thing with or without a conference. For all the criticism of BYU’s schedule this year, was Idaho, New Mexico State and Hawaii and less than New Mexico, Colorado State, and UNLV in previous Novembers? Only Utah was missing from that lineup. BYU’s future schedule improve a great deal.
CBS is a player, but so is ESPN. To that wit, BYU controls it’s own independent destiny. Until a situation comes along where BYU need a conference more than a conference needs BYU, expect the Cougars to remain independent for a very long time. Everyone wants to “hate on” BYU right now because it doesn’t want to share. How does that square with a nation that completely identified with joe the Plumber? I am not sure people understand what was won in that 1983 Supreme Court Decision that went against the bully (NCAA and ABC). But at this point in history, BYU knows where it has come from, where it’s roots are and why it doesn’t need CBS poking them in the eye once again. My hat is off to BYU for telling CBS to shove it where the sun don’t shine, that giant sphincter logo of theirs.