Thursday, August 1, 2013

Van Noy's Poinsettia Bowl Strip-N-Score: The Rest of the Story

By John Ahlander, 

Last night, BYUtv Sports unveiled the Top 50 BYU Football plays of all-time.  At #8 was Kyle Van Noy's strip-and-score in the 2012 San Diego Poinsettia Bowl last December.  What happened right before that series?  Here's the story.

As the game played out, the BYU defense was getting more and more frustrated with the BYU offense for failing to score.  In the first minutes of the 4th quarter, the BYU offensive had just turned the ball over for the 3rd time and the score was SDSU 6, BYU 3.  

Van Noy had enough.  He came over to Running Back Coach Joe DuPaix, who was on the headset with Offensive Coordinator Brandon Doman. He ripped the headset off Coach DuPaix's head and yelled at Coach Doman.  "What the <bleep> are you guys doing?  The defense is holding up our part.  Get it going!".  The coaches and surrounding players were stunned.

Van Noy promptly took the field, stripped Aztec's quarterback Dingwell in the end zone and recovered the fumble for a touchdown.  He followed it up two series later with an interception return for a touchdown.  By the end of the game, he had single-handedly outscored the BYU offensive 12-11.

As Paul Harvey would you have the rest of the story.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

5 Things BYU Should Do To Improve In-Stadium Experience

By John Ahlander, 

More and more fans are opting to stay home and watch college football games on TV, instead of making the effort to go in person.  This is principally due to increased television coverage, in HD, enjoyed from your living room couch.

Here are five things BYU should do to improve the in-stadium experience for the fans that spend the time to travel to the stadium, pay for expensive tickets and food, and cheer the team on in person.

1. Use ribbon boards for something useful

BYU made a huge deal last year out of the installation of new video scoreboards and ribbon boards in the stadium.  The video boards were excellent quality and added to the game experience, but the ribbon boards were a huge disappointment.  Basically, they were a 3-hour advertisement, and during night games, the flashing lights were a big distraction.  What a waste!  BYU should use the ribbon boards to show a ticker of current game stats and scores from other games of interest.  This is common at most professional sports venues.

2.  Provide Free WIFI

One big disadvantage of going to the stadium to watch the game instead of staying home is that you are now disconnected from the Internet.  Cell phone data coverage in the stadium is overwhelmed and unreliable.  With the announcement of Google Fiber to Provo, why not swing a deal for Google to provide free WIFI in stadium, like they are proposing to do in various U.S. cities.

3.  Show college football highlights on the video board during game breaks

ESPN is our partner, right?  BYU should request the rights to show the most recent ESPN SportsCenter 30-second college football update on the video board.  TV viewers get this while watching the game, but the in-stadium fans don't.  Why not?

4.  Show half-time TV analysis on the video board

Another benefit of watching from home is getting professional analysis of the first half.  In the stadium, this is forfeited.  Why not broadcast it on the big screen?  If not the ESPN half-time analysis, at least the BYUtv announcer crew.

5.  Better half-time shows

Apologies in advance to the band, but there is an opportunity to entertain the fans more with better half-time shows.  Maybe BYU could showcase local music talent during half time.  Many aspiring artists would give a free half-time show, if they could sell their CDs in the stadium afterwards.

What are your ideas to improve the in-stadium experience?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Is BYU or Utah winning the "Holy War" recruiting battle?

By John Ahlander, 

Even if BYU and Utah may not be playing each other every year on the football field, they will be battling each year off the field with LDS and in-state recruits.  Who is winning this battle?

An analysis of recruiting data shows that BYU and Utah signed 80 recruits over the last 10 years, where they had both offered the recruit a scholarship.  So, there are about 8 head-to-head recruiting battles on average each year.

Utah holds the head-to-head recruiting edge 55% to 45%, and has held the lead every year since 2008.  It is not likely a coincidence that Utah also holds the head-to-head record on the field since 2008, winning 4 of the last 5 games.

Breaking down the battles by star ratings:
  • 4 star (8 kids): BYU has signed 63%
  • 3 star (47 kids): Utah has signed 58%
  • 2 star (23 kids): BYU has signed 52%

Breaking down the battle by in-state vs. out-of-state:

  • In-state (43 kids): Utah has signed 63%
  • Out-of-state (37 kids): BYU has signed 54%

It is clear that Utah has the edge in in-state recruiting, but top-rated LDS recruits are still trending toward BYU.

If this trend continues, it bodes well for Utah and puts pressure on BYU to land more out of state recruits.

Tell us what you think in the comments below, or on twitter @CougarFanDotCom

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

BYU should return to's how and why

By John Ahlander, 

A month ago, we outlined BYU's 5 conference options.  Since then, the Big East has crumbled and Boise St. (and likely San Diego St.) are returning to the Mountain West Conference.  BYU's best option now is to return to an expanded 16-team Mountain West starting in 2014, when the new playoff system is in place.

Why 16 teams and who would they be?

First, the Mountain West Conference needs to expand to 16 teams.  The Mountain West should re-invite San Diego State and give new invitations to Houston, SMU and UTEP.  This will seal the fate of the Big East, all but assuring the MWC will get the "Group of Five" automatic new-BCS/playoff bowl bid each year.   It will also bring in new TV markets in Dallas and Houston.

Two divisions of 8 teams could be divided like this (division names purposely made up):

More West Division

Fresno State
San Jose State
*San Diego State
Utah St.

Less West Division

Air Force
Colorado State
*Boise St.
New Mexico

* New/Returning MWC teams

View Proposed 16-Team MWC in a larger map

Each team plays each other team in their division annually, plus one team in the other division (7+1) and 4 non-conference games.  Winners of each division play in a conference championship game.

Since BYU and Boise St. are the strongest football programs, they must be in different divisions to attempt to have them meet in a huge-draw conference championship game between two ranked teams to decide who will get the automatic big bowl bid.

BYU and Utah St. would become the year end rivalry game.  Other geographic year-end rivals would be SJSU-Fresno, UNLV-Nevada, CSU-AFA, BSU-Wyoming, New Mexico-UTEP, and SMU-Houston.  The only non-natural pairing would be SDSU-Hawaii, but SDSU is closest to Hawaii.

This will remind many of the failed 16-team WAC.  In fact, it's mostly the same teams.  Sports Illustrated chronicled the demise in a great 2010 article.  The conclusion.  It's didn't work then, but it could work in the future.  A lot has changed since 1996.  The Pittsburgh Tribune has more info. on the WAC breakup.

What about BYU's non-conference contracted games?

BYU's game contracts include penalties of around $1 million per game, if a team cancels the game.  Having to drop 8 games, and pay $8 million, to fit in new conference games would be a deal killer for any possible MWC move.  However, a closer look shows that this is very possible, with no buyout penalty.

As BYU would not join until 2014, there is no change to the great 2013 schedule.

In 2014, BYU already scheduled Utah St., Houston, Hawai'i, Boise, and UNLV.  Those games would be dropped as they are now in the same conference.  That leaves only Texas, Virginia, Middle Tennessee St.,  Southern Miss and Central Florida.  Southern Miss wants out of the game, so dropping that one would leave just 4 non-conference games.  Perfect.  No contract issues.

In 2015, BYU already scheduled Boise St., Utah St., Hawai'i and UNLV.  That leaves Nebraska, Michigan, Southern Miss. and Cincinnati.  As the Southern Miss. series would be cancelled, BYU would need just one more non-conference game to fill the slate.  Perfect.

BYU and Boise St. would not play each year in the proposed divisional lineup, but hopefully would often meet in the championship game.

What would the money/TV arrangements be?

BYU administration has always said the move to independence was about more exposure, not more money.  Truth is, it was both, and BYU was getting neither in the old MWC.

The MWC just agreed to package Boise State home games separate from the standard MWC TV deal, implement a bonus program that will pay a MWC team $300-500K extra for a national TV appearance and give 50% of BCS bowl revenues to an MWC team that makes a BCS bowl.  Basically, the MWC gave Boise St. the deal that BYU was denied two years ago, spurring the move to independence.

BYU makes a $4 million per year with the ESPN contract, according this report from CBS sports.  Note that is much less than the $8-10 million originally estimated by the media, and a number the MWC could figure out how to match.

One idea is that BYU's ESPN contract could be granted to the MWC, with 75% to BYU and 25% to the conference.  When the ESPN contract runs out in 2018, BYU would be included in the future MWC TV contract.

Why would the MWC do this?  Because they are currently making 0% from BYU games, and adding BYU will give the MWC better strength of schedule for the new playoff and bowl system.

Why would BYU do this?  Because they will make up the $1 million from the new playoff revenue distribution to the MWC.  The MWC will receive an estimated $17 million per year.  In a new 16-team format, each MWC team would receive $1 million.  BYU, as an independent,  is only promised $200K per year from the new playoff arrangement.

Wait.  Didn't we hate the MWC?

BYU had issues in the MWC with revenue distribution, TV rights, exposure, and BCS bowl access.  This proposal would address these issues.

What about the Big 12?

Nothing here would preclude BYU from going to the Big 12, if the Big 12 decided to expand and invite BYU.  Let's face it.  None of the five power conferences want BYU right now.  The MWC will be the sixth best conference in the country, and will likely be playing in a big bowl game each year.

Is this really better than being independent?

Yes.  If the ESPN contract can be retained, BYU will have the same exposure, the same money, but better access to the new-BCS bowls and playoff format.  The football team will have a conference championship to play for again.  Conference affiliation would ease the difficult non-conference scheduling and custom bowl agreements.

It's the best option right now.

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