To All College Football Fans:
If you haven’t seen it already, there is increasing talk about the possibility of BYU going undefeated this season and causing a possible headache for the CFB playoff selection committee. But getting past questions of the sheer silliness of “Power” conferences — conferences with such illustrious football teams as Duke, Vanderbilt, and the University of Iowa — I wanted to share my thoughts on BYU football and hopefully put some minds at ease.
I have been a BYU fan since as long as I can remember. I used to watch away games with my Grandma and attend home games with members of my family. I was there when Ty Detmer scrambled to throw a touchdown against #1 Miami in 1990. I was there in 2002 when Brandon Doman and Luke Staley lifted the Cougars over the Utah Utes in the final seconds.
Of course, I was also watching when Hawaii didn’t just beat the 1990 and 2001 teams, they demolished and embarrassed them. In 1991, just hours after receiving the Heisman Trophy, Ty Detmer led the Cougars to a 28-59 loss, thus dropping the Cougars from the top 10 and putting them out of consideration for a national title. In 2001 the Cougars beat most of their opponents without problems only to go to Hawaii to lose 45-72. Both teams followed up these losses to Hawaii with poor bowl performances. In 1990 matters weren’t helped when Texas A&M’s Slocum instructed his team to injure Detmer, which they did. Twice. Oh…. and then they kept their starters in an ran the score up for a 15-65 BYU loss. Super classy! With the emergence of Johnny Manziel I am now convinced that Texas A&M has one of the most robust policies regarding sportsmanship in all of college football. *cough*
At this point in the season all this talk of being undefeated is nonsense. If anything, BYU has shown an uncanny ability to have a standout season marred by an embarrassing defeat. So if the Cougars go into the 2nd week of November undefeated, let’s have the conversation then.
Should BYU be in one of the so-called “Power” conferences. Probably. They are better than many teams in those conferences but certainly don’t compare with teams like Florida State, Ohio State, and others. Within a Power conference the Cougars may win the occasional conference championship but, I suspect, would most often find themselves in the middle of the pack.
For that reason I don’t mind BYU being independent. Even with all the scheduling difficulties etc… Due to its Honor Code and religious education requirements, BYU will always be a middle-tier CFB program. One that will occasionally pull off a huge upset win over a top 10 school but mostly, a team that will always be competitive against the likes of Boise State and TCU.
BYU has an incredibly limited recruiting pool which is, mostly, limited to Mormon kids who embrace the BYU culture of no sex, no drugs, no drinking. Any amazing Mormon HS football player is almost sure to go to a big school in a “Power” conference. BYU will simply never attract the top HS talent because attending BYU is, shall we say, a unique experience not generally appealing to those without Mormon religious convictions.
As a huge BYU fan I have to say that I am completely OK with BYU being a mid-tier team with the occasional big win. I’m always glad to see BYU put their standards above athletics. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the Honor Code is just downright silly and as a BYU student I certainly didn’t enjoy some of the more pharisaical mandates. But it is what it is. BYU is a good place to receive an education and also a good place to root for a pretty darn good football team.