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BYU declares independence, sets six-game series with Irish

BYU’s announcement that they’ve broken lose from the Mountain West conference and gone independent in football has to be viewed as a positive for Irish fans, many of whom were close to conceding that independence was no longer an option. Here, BYU’s athletic director Tom Holmoe explains why the school decided to leave the Mountain West, moving the rest of their sports to the West Coast Conference and their football team to independent status.

Of course, an exclusive eight-year deal to televise your home games on ESPN makes that decision a lot easier, especially when BYU already has a television channel that’s got major distribution across the country that they can use for their other sports.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders why ESPN has seemingly been helpful in holding together the tenuous traditional alignment of college football this offseason. But then of course, ESPN begins their four-year deal to cover the Bowl Championship Series this year, a privilege they’ll pay approximately $125 million a year for.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was complimentary about the deal BYU struck, and also about the prospect of schools going independent.

“It’s not for everybody, but they certainly fit the profile of an institution for whom it probably does make great sense --frankly, in the same way it still does for Army and Navy,” Swarbrick told the Chicago Tribune.

“All the schools currently in that category have some common characteristics -- national profile, strong history and traditions that are important to honor. BYU adds to that, as I think Notre Dame has, media access. Not everybody can produce on their own. I know precious little of the details, but it certainly looks like a smart move, from where I sit.”

BYU also announced that there’s a handshake deal in place for the Cougars and the Irish to play six times between now and 2020. While Notre Dame has always been mum about a deal until it’s finalized, it’s a great series that has the potential of becoming another solid rivalry for the Irish.