I know BYU football isn’t the normal talk here. I think it’s relevant to the broader LDS community this year if only due to how it’s perceived around the country. While as I write this the Big 12 hasn’t formally announced the death of expansion plans, it’s being widely leaked. For months BYU seemed like a shoe in. Then came the activism at many colleges over the honor code at BYU. While some of the information out there was simply incorrect, the basic idea of no pubic displays of affection for homosexuals seemed like a deal breaker to enough college presidents so as to kill BYU’s hopes.
Now it’s not quite as simple as that. First the Big 12 has been horribly managed. In particular this expansion process has been the most dysfunctional display of management within college football in years. The conference has become a laughing stock among most commentators. Throw in the issue of ESPN and Fox Sports not wanting expansion and BYU would have had a hard time no matter the honor code or not.
Nonetheless the failure of expansion does strongly suggest how BYU is starting to be viewed by universities around the country. I’m not saying they should modify their honor code or not. However unless it does change the honor code opposition most likely will intensify.
Staying on football issues rather than the honor code, this Big 12 decision puts BYU in a tight spot. As tough as independence status is, it is unarguably better than being in the Mountain West Conference. BYU has far better schedules, their games are better broadcast, and tehy earn far more money per game. Realistically after failing to make it into the Big 12, BYU will be stuck independent for the foreseeable future. The Pac-12 opposed us even before the change is social norms over homosexuality. There’s no real conceivable reason the AAC or SEC would want us. That leaves the Big 12 or Big 10. Perhaps some connection to the latter would be worth it, but realistically BYU is stuck until the inevitable collapse of at least one conference leading to a bunch of moving around.
While the best BYU can do in the meantime is schedule good teams, there are limits on that. For one if Power 5 conference teams decide BYU is dangerous to play it’ll become harder to schedule them. It’s true that’s not a necessary consequence. After all Notre Dame manages quite well. But BYU simply isn’t perceived the same way as Notre Dame and doesn’t have its history. That means if under Coach Sitake we continue to improve so we’re legitimately a Power 5 competitive team that our success undermines our goals. This was why getting into a conference was so important.
The reality is though that it’ll be a while before we start seeing movement in college sports again. Even though many suspect the Big 12 will collapse when their TV deals end. One bright light is that the general decrease in sports profitability as people shift their viewing habits might mean football has to adjust. Yet even if that happens, BYU will still have the honor code, the church will still (from a secular view) discriminate against homosexuals, and if anything public tolerance for such practices will be much shorter.
 Contra popular opinion BYU appears to be one of the few colleges that makes money on football. University of Utah is one of the few others.