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Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Mailbag: Big XII-SEC Bowl Deal, BYU on ESPN, Future Hall of Famers, Talon Shumway, and New Conference Members

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: bluecougarfootball@gmail.com
2. Twitter: @BlueCougarFball and use #BCFmailbag
3. Leave a comment at the end of a BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL article.

On to the mailbag.

The undertones of the Big XII and SEC bowl agreement are loud and many. I am not saying it will be the end of the world if BYU doesn’t get into the Big XII, but a second national championship will never come to Provo.

If you were following BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL a year ago, then you know where I stand on BYU and the Big XII. This bowl agreement and its likely ramifications only strengthen my position. There are about eight mega football schools in the NCAA. If you are not in a conference with one of them, then you will be on the outside looking in. That includes Notre Dame.

Until that door to the Big XII is fully closed and locked, BYU should make every possible effort to persuade the Big XII to invite them.

If that invitation never comes, I don’t think that spells doomsday. BYU should still field high quality, competitive teams. It will still be entertaining to watch BYU play, and the NFL won’t discriminate against BYU players any more than they already do.

In short, nothing will have really changed about BYU football, except that sliver of a chance that another national championship could come will be gone. Maybe in the future the playoff will be expanded to enough teams that access to others is feasible.

*****

It is great to see ESPN picking up so many of the BYU games again this season. I just wish more of them were on Saturday and/or not played so late in the night.

First, let me say, I LOVE that the season opener has been moved up to Thursday. More and more, Thursday night is becoming the real opening day of the season. Last year 28 teams opened their season on Thursday, and, so far, 32 are scheduled to do it this year. I like the fact that it gives two extra days between games one an two to fix those problems you couldn’t see without playing a game. For the fans it is great because they now have the entire Labor Day weekend free for BBQs and other recreational activities. The scores and highlights from these games are going to be repeated all day Friday and Saturday morning until other games are completed. If BYU wins, it is great exposure, which was the whole point of this independence/ESPN thing, right?

As for playing, almost regularly, on Thursday or Friday night, it is evident what value ESPN saw in BYU. BYU provides a higher profile team in the WAC games that they are obligated to broadcast, which will allow the “worldwide leader in sports” to fetch a higher premium for those commercial spots. Once the WAC scheduling agreement ends this year, it will be interesting to see how many games ESPN continues to carry.

BYU needs to build its national brand to avoid the late start times and non-Saturday games. BYU has to attract enough attention to get North Carolina fans more interested in watching BYU play than two fellow ACC schools. Until that happens, ESPN won’t see enough value in BYU to broadcast the average game on a Saturday afternoon.

*****

No doubt, Ty [Detmer] is getting his just desserts with the hall of fame induction. Exceptional football player, and a great person. Looking into the future, who else from BYU could be going into the hall?

The National Football Foundation (NFF) has four criteria that it uses, but only one really matters: FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PLAYER MUST HAVE RECEIVED FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION BY A SELECTOR RECOGNIZED BY THE NCAA AND UTILIZED TO COMPRISE THEIR CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS.

Knowing that this is BYU, I don’t expect any BYU players who were not consensus All-Americans to receive Hall of Fame recognition. Six former Cougars have been consensus All-Americans, and are not yet hall of fame members. I think five of them have a very good chance of being inducted. Offensive lineman Nick Eyre is the only one I don’t think will make it. He was a consensus All-American way back in 1979. If he was going to get in, then it should have happened by now.

Of the other five, three also won national awards recognizing them as the best player at their position. Defensive lineman Jason Buck and offensive lineman Mohammed Elewonibi were Outland Trophy winners. Luke Staley won the Doak Walker Award. This consensus All-American and national award winner combo makes it a pretty sure bet they will be inducted someday.

Tight ends Chris Smith and Dennis Pitta are the other two players. They both set an NCAA record for tight ends while they played. They both had over 1,000 yards receiving in a season (Smith did it twice). Pitta will increase his chances of getting in the better and longer he plays in the NFL. (NFL success isn’t part of the selection process, but it changes people’s perception, for the better.) It also helps these two that BYU has a long tradition of excellent tight ends, and one (Gordon Hudson) is already in the Hall.

*****

I am a little biased as a Lone Peak alum, but I am excited about Talon Shumway committing to play for BYU. He is another tall wide receiver who will fit in well with the culture of the team. I expect great things from him.

I understand the way you feel. I am a Bingham Miner and love to see the guys from there come down to Provo.

Shumway is a good “catch” for BYU. He is the top wide receiver prospect in Utah and is ranked no. 98 nationally. As BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL pointed out in March, at 6’3” he fits the mold of the new BYU receiver. From the highlights available on YouTube, he shows nice athleticism and the ability to make the difficult catch.

Some outlets are mentioning the possibility of Shumway playing a different position as a Cougar. Based on what I have seen, if he doesn’t play wide receiver, it means one of two things: 1) BYU has other wide receivers who are really good, or 2) Shumway is really good at another position.



*****

Re: What if the Big XII doesn't invite BYU?

Nevada averages like 12k fans per game. No thanks. And if Hawaii's too far away, why did we agree to play them ten times as an indy program?

Nevada can have zero fans attend games, and they should still be considered for a new conference. If BYU was forming a new conference, they don’t have the luxury of using the several different metrics that the Big XII might be using.

Winning is what matters for this new conference.

The only way for a “mid-major” conference to generate national buzz and earn some national respect is by winning games. No one cares how many people attended a game between San Diego State and UTEP, even if it was 80,000.

Nevada has done well lately. The fact that schools like Alabama and UCLA have integrated the Pistol offense into what they run attests to that.

Hawaii is too far away for full conference membership. A trip out there every two years for football is fine, but the expense is overbearing when tennis, swimming, etc. have to do it as well. This conference isn’t going to have a massive TV contract or other huge revenue streams to support excessive travel.

*****

I'd rather see Houston, Louisiana Tech, or maybe an SMU than SDSU, FSU, or Nevada. I didn't do research before stating these schools, but in my mind they have better resumes than those schools.

You might be right. Let’s look at their win-loss record the last five years.

Houston
2007: 8-5
2008: 8-5
2009: 10-4
2010: 5-7
2011: 13-1
Averages: 8.8 wins/year (44-22)

Louisiana Tech
2007: 5-7
2008: 8-5
2009: 4-8
2010: 5-7
2011: 8-5
Averages: 6 wins/year (30-32)

SMU
2007: 1-11
2008: 1-11
2009: 8-5
2010: 7-7
2011: 8-5
Averages: 4.6 wins/year (23-39)

A case could be made that these three schools should replace San Diego State, Fresno State, and Nevada in the hypothetical. Honestly, I didn’t look at them for the reason given above about Hawaii being too far away.

It is 627 miles from Salt Lake City to San Diego. That is the furthest BYU would have to travel for a conference game if the other schools are Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, and San Diego State. SMU, located in Dallas, Texas, is the closest of the three proposed replacement schools. Dallas is 999 miles away from Salt Lake City.

From a winning standpoint, Houston, LaTech, and SMU would be comparable replacements. Having a foot in Texas and Louisiana is also attractive. However, I think, the travel costs would make it impractical. That would be my only concern with those schools.

If Tom Holmoe and BYU ever get serious about forming a new conference, they might want to look at Houston, SMU, and Louisiana Tech.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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