BYU will leave the Mountain West conference after this season and go independent in 2011.

On the surface, it appears to be a risky move since the Mountain West is positioning itself to land an automatic BCS bid in the coming years. Plus, BYU has no guarantees from the BCS as an independent. The Cougars would have to finish in the top two of the final BCS rankings to make the national championship game. Beyond that, BYU has no tie-in to a BCS bowl game.

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But today's announcement by BYU makes things a lot clearer, as far as why the Cougars are going independent. BYU announced that it has a new eight-year deal with ESPN to televise its games. If a BYU game doesn't appear on one of the many ESPN channels, the game will be seen on BYUtv.

BYU also announced today a six-year deal to play fellow independent Notre Dame. The deal runs through 2020.