Friday Mailbag: Reaction to East Carolina Series & BYU and the NFL

Welcome to the Friday Mailbag where once a week I answer your questions and respond to your comments about Brigham Young Cougars football. As a quick reminder, there are three ways to submit a question:
  1. Email:
  2. Twitter: @BlueCougarFball and use #BCFmailbag
  3. Leave a comment at the end of a BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL article.
On to the mailbag.

Didn’t East Carolina beat some high ranked BCS teams recently? This game could be a real challenge.

You are probably thinking of the 2008 season. East Carolina opened the season with back-to-back wins against #15 Virginia Tech (27-22) and #8 West Virginia (24-3). Although not a BCS team, East Carolina beat #18 Houston in the C-USA Championship game in 2009. These games were with Skip Holtz as coach. He left following the 2009 season. East Carolina hasn’t had a winning season since then. However, just this past season, the Pirates played Virginia Tech close losing 17-10.

While 2017 and 2018 are still very far away, it isn’t unreasonable to think East Carolina could present a similar challenge as C-USA mate Tulsa just did in the Armed Forces Bowl.


Hooray for Independence! Another “big” scheduling announcement that doesn’t involve a BCS team. When are these independent schedules going to get better?

I sense some frustration. Honestly, I can’t say when the rhetoric from Tom Holmoe and Bronco Mendenhall will be backed up with announcements of agreements with teams from the top half of BCS conferences. However, just keep in mind these games will be played in 2017 and 2018. That is a long ways away. There are still plenty of holes to fill in those schedules with more marquee teams.

Scheduling in college football is largely influenced by relationships. BYU was able to play Alabama in 1998 because former BYU Athletic Director Glen Tuckett held that same position at Alabama. It would be nice to see BYU use its relationship with former linebacker Dennis Simmons and get Texas Tech on the schedule.


You wrote about the former BYU players in the NFL this year. What about ECU? Do they have any players in the NFL?

Eight former Pirates played in the NFL in 2011. Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is the most notable. Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake is another ECU Pirate who had success in the NFL.


Nice to see how the old Cougs did in the pros this year. How do you think they will do next year?

It is pretty clear for some. Dennis Pitta will continue to be a cog in the Ravens’ offense. Brett Keisel, beard and all, will start as many games as he is healthy for Pittsburgh. Brady Poppinga will continue to be a solid linebacker. Austin Collie has a home in Indianapolis, but how much he will contribute will depend on the quarterback. John Denney’s job is safe in Miami, but he will stay out of the spotlight.

Coaching decisions will impact those who are on the fringe. David Nixon, Max Hall, Manase Tonga, Ray Feinga, and John Beck all fit into this group.

I think Bryan Kehl is safe in St. Louis, and I expect to see some more production from him next year. After getting his feet wet this year, Vic So’oto could see an expanded role with the Packers.

As previously noted, Chris Hoke has retired.


I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, but isn’t 13 kind of a low number for BYU? Should we be concerned about BYU not producing NFL talent like before?

I don’t have historical data to compare, but it does seem that the overall number of key contributors has dwindled. There are a lot of reasons that could explain why the quantity isn’t the same (if in fact it isn’t).

1. The NFL has become very fickle about picking players with specific measurements. If a player isn’t the right height, weight, and run a fast enough 40, then it is going to take something major to get him more than a token chance.

2. LaVell Edwards is gone. He had a great reputation and a lot of connections in the NFL. Coaches and teams would take chances on his players because of what other Edwards coached players had done or because they trusted Edwards’ opinion.

3. The ever growing popularity of football has increased the number of qualified players competing for the same number of positions.

The current picture, however, has a lot of positives about BYU players in the NFL now and in the future.

1. Austin Collie has already had more success in the NFL than any other former BYU receiver.

2. Dennis Pitta is well on his way to matching, if not exceeding, Chad Lewis and Itula Mili’s success at tight end.

3. BYU had four quarterbacks make it to the NFL in the last decade. That is more than any other decade in BYU history.

4. BYU shouldn’t have a repeat shutout in the NFL draft. Matt Reynolds, Hebron Fangupo, and Jordan Pendleton all have legitimate chances at NFL careers.

5. The BYU roster has more potential NFL talent than it has for awhile. Kyle Van Noy, Ross Apo, Cody Hoffman, Austin Holt, Braden Hansen, and Romney Fuga all have a good shot at NFL careers.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at