With an open spot (or possibly spots, plural) now available in the Big 12, rumors have begun flying as to what team (or teams) might fill it (or them). One of the teams frequently mentioned is BYU, whose long tradition of football success, devoted following, and current independence could make it an interesting fit.
In response to that "speculation," BYU issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our [other sports'] affiliation with the West Coast Conference.Of course, by releasing the statement, BYU has confirmed that such speculation exists and arguably creates a greater "distraction" than simply not issuing any statement at all. (Would we be writing this post if the Cougar administration had said nothing at all? No.) That the statement notably declines to say "we will not be joining the Big 12 or any other conference" or "BYU will remain an independent" or something along those lines will likely only fuel the rumor mill's fire, too.
We sympathize with schools (like Virginia Tech, whose spokesman angrily commented on SEC-centric rumors earlier Wednesday) caught up in the maelstrom of expansion talk, just as their 2011 football seasons are ready to get underway. Their frustration is understandable. But in this case, expressing that frustration may end up doing more "distraction" harm than good.