Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Conference Chaos : BYU's 5 Options

By John Ahlander, 

In the ever chaotic world of college football, the last few weeks almost seem normal.  There are more teams jumping from one conference to the next and presidents saying "It's a great day for our university" -- all while leaving tradition, geography and rivalries in the dust.

Where does this leave BYU?  In short, the same place it was a few days ago.  However, there are some new options it could consider.

Two weeks ago, the BCS commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee announced that there will be six bowls rotating through the upcoming college football playoff system.  The group also announced that there would be one automatic bid for the highest-rated champion from the "Group of Five" conferences (Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Mid-American) -- also known as the have-nots.  This bid will accompany the automatic bids for the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big 10 and Pac-12.

The Big East got demoted from a BCS conference to a non-BCS conference.  If you are Boise State, you may be kicking yourself right now.  The Mountain West conference has the exact same access now as the Big East.  Instead of going undefeated each year in the MWC, with regional opponents and rivals, and having a great shot at the one "Group of Five" automatic bid, they are now part of a mess of a conference, remaking itself with Conference USA teams.

BYU is only guaranteed a spot if they are in the top 4.  To get an "at-large" bid, they'd most likely have to be in the top 10.  Although the college football post-season is changing, for BYU, it's pretty much the same.  Be undefeated and in the top 10.

Here are BYU's five options today:

1.  Stay Independent

Pros:  No change.  In the melee of conference realignment, BYU actually is above the fray.  No lawsuits, no uncertainty, no conference partners bolting for a better place.  BYU has a very nice contract with ESPN, great exposure, excellent future schedules, and all the control.

Cons: No guaranteed access to a BCS (or future name) bowl.  No conference championship to play for.  Difficult November scheduling.

BYU should choose this option, if...the Big 12 doesn't invite.

2.  Join the Big East

Pros: Potential access to BCS (or future name) bowl.  Conference championship to play for.  November scheduling set. Possibly more revenue (to be determined).

Cons: Conference is crumbling as we speak.  It is now Conference USA + Boise and San Diego State.

BYU should choose this option, if...heck freezes over (edited for BYU standards).  OK, actually, if the Big East gave BYU complete rights to its home football games (i.e. retain ESPN contract), a 7 game conference schedule (to retain 5 non-conference games), and some home-and-home basketball non-conference scheduling, then it could be worth considering.

3.  Re-join the Mountain West

Pros: Potential access to BCS (or future name) bowl.  Conference championship to play for.  November scheduling fixed. Regional games.  This is the easiest path to a BCS (or future name) bowl.  BYU just needs to win the MWC and be ranked higher than the Big East/CUSA champion.

Cons: It would appear as if BYU regretted it's independence decision and came crawling back.  That wouldn't be true, as the landscape has changed, but it would appear that way.  Mountain West has now added more schools, which are weaker than the previous teams it lost.  It is basically the old WAC again.

BYU should choose this option, if...all of the following conditions are met:  1.  Boise State and San Diego St. return.  2.  BYU has complete rights to its home football games (i.e. retain ESPN contract).  3.  A 7-8 game conference schedule (to retain 4-5 non-conference games).  4.  Some home-and-home basketball non-conference scheduling.

4.  Beg the Big 12

Pros:  Big 12 is a premier conference, with incredible competition, bounteous revenues and full access to BCS (or new name)/playoff.  

Cons:  It's never good to beg, and the Big 12 seems content to stay at 10 teams.  

BYU should choose this option, if...the sun rises tomorrow.  This is really the only good conference option for BYU.  Problem is, the Big 12 doesn't want BYU (or any other team right now).  BYU should call the Big 12 and say: "When you are ready, we are ready".

5.  Form a new conference

Pros:  Dictate own terms.  Retain ESPN contract and BYUtv rights.  Can pick conference partners.

Cons:  May not be able to get spot in new BCS bowl/playoff format.  

BYU should choose this option, if...Boise State, San Diego St., SMU and Houston all join with them, BYU can retain ESPN contract (or new conference has equivalent ESPN contract), and BCS bowls (or new name) include this new conference in the "Group of 5".

In summary, what does this all mean for BYU football?  It's still on the outside looking in. The more things change, the more they stay the same for BYU.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Report: Georgia Tech to Drop BYU Game in 2014, 2017

By John Ahlander, 

As BYU struggled to find quality non-conference opponents as a new independent, the October 2010 announcement of a 4-game series with ACC opponent Georgia Tech was a ray of hope.

Make that a 2-game series.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting today that Georgia Tech is planning to drop the contracted games in 2014 and 2017 due to changes in their ACC conference schedule.

Here's the snippet:

"Tech is planning to drop its final two games with BYU, at home in 2014 and on the road in 2017. With the nine-game ACC schedule starting most likely in 2013, Tech had to drop one non-conference opponent in 2014 from among Wofford, BYU, Tulane and Georgia.
Tech’s non-conference opponents for 2017 (for now) are Georgia, Ole Miss and BYU. I’m going to guess that Tech would pick up a non-BCS conference FBS team or an FCS team to replace BYU.
Sorry if you already bought your plane tickets for Provo for 2017. Tough break."


BYU will play Georgia Tech this fall on October 27th at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.  A return engagement in Provo is planned for October 12, 2013.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The 10 best recruits that got away: Did they matter?

By John Ahlander, 

Today is Wednesday, February 1, National Signing Day for high school football players. BYU fans will inevitably laud the recruits the Cougars land and lament the recruits they miss on -- especially the "big-time" recruits with 4 or 5 stars.

In the last 10 years, BYU football has offered scholarships to 29 recruits rated 4 or 5 stars by both and While 11 of those recruits chose BYU, 18 chose other schools. Where did they go and how did they do?

4 & 5 star recruits lost to:

8 schools

If you follow recruiting, it won't come as a surprise that BYU has lost more top recruits to USC and Oregon than any other school, starting the trend with Haloti Ngata's stunner on signing day in 2002. It's interesting to note that during this time span, BYU landed 11 big recruits, but only lost 2 to rival Utah.

So, how did these "missed" recruits do? Here are the top 10 recruits BYU missed out on in the last 10 years, and what they've done in their careers. I've excluded recent recruits that don't have at least a couple years of college complete.

YearPos.NameAvg. StarsCollegeCareer Notes
2002DEJonathan Mapu
TennesseePart-time starter as Senior
2002DTHaloti Ngata
NFL Pro-Bowler
2004OLTaitusi Lutui
NFL starter
2004LBRyan Powdrell
USCPart-time starter
NFL free agent
2005TEAnthony Moeaki
IowaAll conference
NFL draftee
2005WRMarquis Wilson
UtahPart-time starter
suspended multiple times
2006RBStanley Havili
NFL draftee
2006DBJustin Tryon
Arizona StateAll-conference
NFL draftee
2006OLFenuki Tupou
NFL draftee
2008LBUona Kavienga
USCBackup at USC
starter at BYU
2009LBManti Te'o
Notre DameStarter
predicted future NFL draftee

A couple things stand out here. First, if Rivals and Scout both rate a player 4+ stars, there is a very high likelihood of that player making it to the NFL.

Second, BYU is no longer the destination of choice for top-flight polynesian high school players. The "polynesian pipeline" that BYU enjoyed in the 80s and 90s has found outlets at many other schools. Oregon and USC have made concerted efforts to woo the best polynesian players to their campuses. Having the ocean within minutes of their campus certainly didn't hurt their cause.

If BYU had landed all these players, would it have made a difference? No doubt. Haloti Ngata was the biggest miss in the last 10 years. He was an absolute one-man wrecking crew in college and continues that in the NFL today. There's no question that having Ngata on the defensive line in the early 2000s would have improved BYU's defense. Do you know who BYU's defensive tackles were in 2004? Exactly. Gary Crowton may still be coaching at BYU today. OK, let's not go that far. With Lutui and Tupou both on the offensive line together in 2006, the two close losses to Arizona and Boston College may have gone the other way, and we'd be talking about BYU's BCS bowl game run.

Having an NFL-bound player always makes a difference. Why didn't they choose BYU? Certainly, the allure of big-time college football programs like USC and Oregon played a part, but it's interesting to note that of the LDS recruits shown above that were drafted in the NFL, none of them chose to serve an LDS mission. Maybe they felt BYU wasn't the right place for them, if they didn't plan to serve a mission.

The reality is that BYU, or any other team, will never sign all the recruits they offer scholarships to. However, BYU has an amazing "win rate" for the recruits they targeted. As mentioned earlier, BYU signed 11 of 29 "4+ stars" recruits they offered, for a win rate of 38%. Compare that with Utah, which offered 26 "4+ star" recruits in just one recruiting year (2011). They signed 2 of them.

Star rankings are far from accurate, but there is much better chance for success with bigger recruits, and if BYU hopes to ever make it to a BCS bowl game, it will need to land a few more 4 & 5 star recruits.

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