By Brian Murphy
The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that BYU and the Big East are nearing an agreement to bring the Cougars into the league as a football-only member. The Tribune's BYU writer Jay Drew posted the news on his Twitter account.
"Sources familiar with the negotiations from Big East side of things said BYU to the Big East could happen 'sooner than later.' Football only," wrote on Twitter.
The possible addition of BYU could be the catalyst for Boise State to join the league. The Idaho State Board of Education gave Boise State President Bob Kustra the authority to move the school to the Big East two weeks ago.
But Kustra and the board indicated they wanted a western partner before joining the Providence, R.I.-based league. The Big East is trying to rebuild its league after the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia and member-to-be TCU to the Big 12.
The Big East planned to invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members and Houston, SMU and Central Florida as full members. Since that plan was announced, West Virginia has left the league, perhaps opening a spot for BYU.
The goal was to create two six-team divisions and play a conference championship.
BYU and Boise State recently announced a 12-year football series, beginning in 2012. BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said earlier this month that Boise State and BYU should be in the same conference, while acknowledging the conversations between BYU and the Big East.
"There is a push and there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference," Mendenhall said on Nov. 7. "I trust our athletic director (Tom Holmoe) and president (Cecil) Samuelson to deal with all of that. I have been informed along the way. At some point there will be a decision with what our intentions will be. I don't know how fast nor do I think a time frame is relevant at this point."
• Boise State football coach Chris Petersen told the San Diego Union-Tribuneon Monday that he would welcome San Diego State as a "western partner."
"If the Big East is going to pay the school a lot more money than the conference we’re in and you can get an automatic qualifying bid (to the BCS), coupled with a western partner, those are the kinds of things we’re interested in,” Petersen told the paper.
You can follow Murph's Turf on Twitter.
You can find links to stories, photos and video by being a fan of Brian Murphy on Facebook.