BYU News From the MWC Media Days

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The Mountain West Conference held its media days in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 27-28, thus marking the unofficial start to the football season. Off field issues (conference expansion and the Harvey Unga situation) dominated the off season headlines. While those issues were not completely ignored, the media days were able to turn the focus back to the field.

Preseason Picks

The media made their annual preseason predictions for the conference. BYU came in third for the conference championship behind TCU and Utah, respectively. No real surprise that the media voted that way.

Two Cougars made the All-MWC first team. Offensive tackle Matt Reynolds and strong safety Andrew Rich, who were both present in Vegas representing the team. It would have been nice to see Jordan Pendleton and Brian Logan on the first team as well, but it doesn’t really matter. I have never invested much concern into the preseason conference selections. Hopefully, they will play their way on to the first team by season’s end.

BYU-Utah Rivalry

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson gave differing explanations about when BYU and Utah might play each other in the future. In one interview with Tom Kirkland from KSL , Commissioner Thompson said, “You really don’t have a choice” except to play the game in September. Later, he explained to Greg Wrubell that it was possible for BYU and Utah to play in November, but it would impact a lot of other scheduling issues and the complexity of those issues would make September more likely, however, BYU and Utah playing in November as non-conference teams “could be done.”

That sounds more like it. My preference is to see BYU continue the rivalry as a game at the end of the year, so I was getting increasingly upset the more I heard Thompson and seemingly everyone else give no consideration to playing the game in November and make it a foregone conclusion that BYU and Utah could not play at the end of the year. While scheduling complexities may exist, I don’t see them as being insurmountable. Just look at the schedule this year; BYU plays Air Force in week two. The MWC is willing to schedule conference games early in the year, so with as many weeks as there are in a season all scheduling issues can be worked out, and you only have to do it one time. Once the solutions are identified that same scheduling model can be used the following years to accommodate BYU and Utah.

All the scheduling issues may be a moot point if you listen to Bronco Mendenhall. He expressed that he would support ending the rivalry if it does not become more civil and safe.

More From Bronco

Listening to Bronco Mendenhall speak was awesome. After listening to him speak I was left with the impression, “This is why he is our leader.” He was able to put to rest all the issues and concerns about conference expansion and replacing lost personnel. Any BYU fan who is insecure with Utah going to the Pac-12 or with BYU’s identity as a private, religious institution needs to listen to what Coach Mendenhall had to say.

Conference Affiliation-Bronco had some insightful remarks about future conference affiliation for BYU. He said that independence was a better bet for BYU’s future conference status than the MWC or the Big 12. The reasoning: BYU’s top priority for athletics is increasing exposure for the school and its mission, and independence could be the best way to put BYU in front of the most people. He pointed out that the current independent schools (Notre Dame, Navy, and Army) had one thing in common with BYU: a unique mission beyond athletics.

Selecting a Quarterback-The quarterbacks are going to be the ones who decide when this position battle ends. Bronco said he is going to let the starter naturally emerge and until that happens he won’t force it. That means BYU could play two quarterbacks during the first few games. Normally, that approach would make me nervous, but something about it coming from Bronco’s mouth gives me some peace. Personally, I think the quarterback race will sort itself out before the first game. Even if Bronco does not want to force a decision, the players will start picking sides during fall camp and a leader/winner will be evident. (More from my perspective on the quarterback race on Monday.)

Audio of interviews with Coach Mendenhall can be found at The Zone and Cougar Tracks in the Cougar Cuts section.

That’s all I got from media days. It was a great pep rally that has me ready for kickoff.