The conventional wisdom has been that for teams to be financially successful in football, you have to be part of a conference, a major one if at all possible. BYU disagrees. While the short term view is that BYU's actions won't matter much, except there is one less team that is a potential BCS buster, since it is likely the BCS will treat the Cougars like Army and Navy and not like Notre Dame. Longer term, a lot depends on the value of the TV deal ESPN/BYUtv works out with the Cougars.
If BYU can get a TV handshake deal worth six home games guaranteed on ESPN in the $5 million a year range, I believe that is a harbinger of things to come. Texas hinted at a jump to create Longhorn TV before 'saving' the Big 12. I can think of several other top tier programs (Southern Cal comes to mind) that has the national fan base to sit at the table with the WWL or ABC or Fox or CBS and get a Notre Dame sized deal.
In this crazy summer of conference expansion, a religiously affiliated school's decision to become independent may be the real watershed moment of the summer of 2010 in the end.