By this point, most BYU football fans know where Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall stands on the future of independence.

"I see independence as a launch point," Mendenhall said during Monday's media day. "I love what it has done for us in terms of exposure. Our strength of schedule -- for the only time in BYU history we are playing more than five of the 'Power 5' teams per year and that's going up. Independence is being helpful with exposure and strength of schedule but that's on it's way to something."

The Cougar head coach explained that as things continue to change in college football, inclusion -- specifically the possibility of being in the Big 12 -- is the next step after independence.

"Where and when, I'm not sure, but I saw a great opportunity after playing Oklahoma and playing Texas, considering the heartland, the conservative values and where it is, it made a lot of sense to me," Mendenhall said. "I think it could be great."

Of course, Mendenhall can have an opinion, but it would be BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe who would have to figure out the details.

When asked about the issue, Holmoe wasn't quite as ready to go as far as Mendenhall did regarding the potential of joining the Big 12.

"Bronco and I talk a lot about all the facets of college athletics -- but he's a coach," Holmoe said during the State of the Program portion of media day. "Sometimes the emotions of a coach run a little higher. But he wants to put his football team in the best position possible. I have a different approach to it although we have similar goals in mind."

But former BYU offensive lineman and ESPN college football analyst Trevor Matich believes independence could be a long-term possibility for the Cougars.

"BYU's program is better right now because of independence, because of their ability to schedule all over the country," Matich said. "In the past, BYU's television footprint wasn't very big. Because of the nature of being an independent and ESPN and other TV outfits, they've been in the Top 15 in broadcasts. That wouldn't have happened if they'd stayed in a conference."

Matich also pointed to the ability of the Cougars to play games in Florida, Texas, California and other parts of the country.

"Recruits can now meet them and see them," Matich said. "All you need to do is add two or three playmakers at a higher level than you normally get each class and the next thing you know that adds up to a much bigger capability."

Another famous BYU alumn -- Hall of Fame quarterback and football analyst Steve Young -- also believes the Cougars are still in good shape but have to maintain a certain level of success on the field.

"So far, so good," Young said before his charity golf tournament in Heber on Monday. "They are surviving it and I think that's because of our ESPN relationship. It really is big games, scoring points, being visible in those games, winning some, taking care of business that way. If we lose that relationship or it wanes a little bit, we're going to have much bigger struggles. Independence demands excellence. It has to be there."

Matich admitted that the big challenge of independence is getting to the top level of the postseason. That starts with the new college football playoff.

"BYU needs to be able to schedule teams in the 'Power 5' conferences to get the strength of schedule to impress the committee and get considered to be in the Top 4," Matich said. "I think from a national championship standpoint, I think BYU is fine as an independent."

But there are also the prestigious bowls, which aren't as easy for the Cougars to break into.

"Right now BYU is kind of in limbo," Matich said. "They'd need to have some sort of seat at the table for selection to that. Right now it's up in the air about whether they will. That's the big question. If BYU can continue to schedule teams from the big conferences, independence will continue to be viable -- but being in a conference would also be good."

All the talk and the speculation may mean a lot to Cougar supporters, but the players said they don't really think about it too much.

"I think some players care more than others," BYU junior defensive lineman Remington Peck said. "Personally, I don't really care that much. I just know that BYU will always have a chance to have national exposure and compete at a national level. That's what means a lot to me, to get the chances to play the best teams in the best stages."

Daily Herald sports editor ​Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

Jared is the Sports Editor and BYU football reporter for the Daily Herald.