The 2017 football season is one the BYU Cougars would like to forget. It hasn't just been bad. It hasn't just been bad and ugly. It has been ruthless. The most recent occurrence of this ruthlessness came in the form of bowl eligibility.
The 2017 season qualifies to be called ruthless not because of the program's misfortunes, but because of the magnitude of those misfortunes. For example:
- BYU didn't just lose to LSU; the Cougars were embarrassingly shutdown and shutout. A few weeks later the men of Troy (the school from the Sun Belt conference, not the USC Trojans) beat LSU.
- BYU isn't just losing players to injury; the Cougars have been smitten with a plague. Well over 30 players have suffered injury, some of them twice, including the top two quarterbacks.
- BYU didn't just lose to a bad Utah State team; the Cougars blew a 21-7 lead and lost because they turned the ball over an embarrassing seven times. Add to that the Aggies' classless antics before the game to interrupt pre-game warm ups.
- BYU hasn't just had off-field issues; the Cougars have had the disciplining of high profile players turn into a public spectacle, and the timing of these issues has been very poor.
- BYU hasn't just struggled on offense; the Cougars have had the worst offense in school history. It still ranks in the bottom 10 of several statistical categories nationally.
- BYU hasn't just lost a lot of games; the Cougars had a seven game losing streak. That hasn't happened at BYU in almost 50 years.
When BYU lost to Fresno State on Saturday, the Cougars were eliminated from bowl contention for this season. However, it wasn't simply bowl elimination. The 2017 season wouldn't allow that. BYU had to be ruthlessly eliminated.
BYU has been attending bowl games regularly since the 1970s. Since that time, BYU has not participated in the postseason just six times. Only three of those seasons did the Cougars not qualify for a bowl, but they were never bowl ineligible while there were still three games to play in the season.
BYU came into the season having gone to a bowl game for 12 consecutive years. That was the eighth longest streak in the nation. (Floirda State is number one with 35, but the Seminoles are in danger of not qualifying with just a 3-5 record.)
BYU got the double and the triple bowl eligibility whammy on Saturday. By virtue of victory over BYU, Fresno State didn't just eliminate the Cougars from the postseason; the Bulldogs won game six, which qualified them for a bowl game. On that same day, former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall's new school Virginia also won game number six on the season to qualify for a bowl.
There is no scenario where 2-8 feels good, but for Cougar Nation it feels downright rotten. That's because it hasn't been a matter of nothing going right. Everything has gone ruthlessly wrong. Bowl eligibility is just the latest case.
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