What conference realignment has meant for Utah and BYU football – Deseret News

On July 1, schools like Texas and Oklahoma officially switched to their new athletic conference, prompting The Athletic to analyze which college football programs have benefited the most from the latest phase of conference realignment.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic rated the 67 schools in the top conferences on a scale of -5 to +5, depending on how recent changes have affected their football teams' chances of winning.

“A 0 means the school is neither better nor worse. A score of 1 to 5 ranges from slightly better to much better, and -1 to -5 ranges from slightly worse to … uh oh,” Mandel wrote.

Mandel not only gave a score, but also commented on some of the programs on the list.

For example, he justified Oklahoma's -3 rating by saying it was irrational to expect the Sooners to perform as well on the field in the SEC as they did in the Big 12.

“From 1938 to 2021, the Sooners have won a Big 8/Big 12 championship in 47 of those 83 seasons. No major program in the country has more league titles. Realistically, OU will not come close to matching that dominance in the SEC,” Mandel wrote.

Here's what The Athletic has to say about BYU, which enters its second year in the Big 12, and Utah, which will officially join BYU in the Big 12 in August.

BYU in the Big 12

The BYU football team may not have fared well in this week's Big 12 preseason media poll — the Cougars were picked to finish 13th, as the Deseret News previously reported — but they performed like roses on The Athletic's list.

Mandel gave the team a +5 and argued that the sky's the limit for BYU football now.

“The Cougars have finally reached the top after spending their entire history in either a non-power conference or as an independent team. They now have direct entry to the (College Football Playoff) and will not finish 16th with just one loss, as happened in 2020,” he wrote.

BYU was one of only two schools to receive a +5 in The Athletic's analysis. The other was SMU.

Utah in the Big 12

Utah's football team is in the opposite situation to BYU: The team was tipped to win in the preseason poll, but Mandel believes the Utes will fare worse in the long run after moving to the Big 12.

“Utah is entering its new league as strong as any of its programs, but man, the Utes have been on a roll in the Pac-12. Not only have they reached four league title games in five years, but they've been able to dominate their Power 5 membership over rival BYU. That's over,” Mandel wrote.

He gave Utah football a -1. The worst result in the Big 12 – for Arizona State – was a -3.

Schools in the Big 12 Conference

As of August 1, 16 schools will be part of the Big 12, including BYU and Utah.

Here is the full list of Big 12 schools:


State of Arizona






State of Iowa


State of Kansas

State of Oklahoma


Texas Tech



West Virginia