COMMENTARY – Today, I am not writing this article just as the weekly writer of the BYU Blue Blood article or even as an alumnus, but as a former BYU football player.
I feel a little entitled to say things (maybe some of which are not constructive or even that nice) about the current situation of the team. I feel an obligation at this point to speak up because of the literal blood, sweat and tears that all the previous players, including myself, have put into the BYU program.
To this day (like so many other former BYU players), I wake up feeling injuries I sustained, not in the NFL years, but at BYU. So feeling a little upset about watching the Cougars not reach their potential hurts more than I would like to admit.
You see, I personally have become completely numb. I am, sadly, getting used to the current losing culture at BYU and that’s not good. And I am not alone. In fact, I am the majority at this point.
Every recent season seems to go the same way: Beat mediocre teams, lose to Utah, start the season off with more losses than wins, beat a good program or two somehow, then finish the year strong against lousy competition.
Is that all anyone wants from BYU football anymore? Is that acceptable? Eight or nine wins a year and a crappy pre-New Year’s bowl game … is that what BYU fans want?
Once upon a time, BYU was a top tier program. Fans wanted more. Fans expected more. Fans demanded more.
Many of the current coaches, trainers and staff are friends of mine and I have known many of them for some time, so it’s a little hard to admit this, but the Cougars are in trouble.
All I have to do after watching a BYU football game is look at Facebook to get a good, well-rounded feel for what many former players and teammates of mine from BYU have to say. It’s generally a resounding feeling of real frustration, sadness for the team and actual pain.
Just like many of them, I wish I could put the pads on again and show these youngsters a thing or two. But that’s not reality. At the end of the day, I still see a ton of support for the team and some finger pointing, but what else can you expect when the program is not heading in the right direction.
Almost daily this time of year, I get phone calls, texts, email etc., asking me what is truly wrong with the program. And for the first time, I can’t put my finger on any one issue or even a short list of problems.
One thing I do know for a fact is this, success or failure starts with the head coach then moves on to his assistants, the staff and trickles down to every player that makes up a successful football program.
I have been a part of many really successful teams, and some that didn’t do so well. At BYU, in particular, I witnessed firsthand a couple of sub-par seasons because we beat ourselves. But even in those tough years, we played some of the best teams in the country and we still competed at their level. My senior year, we played the National Champions (USC) and several other teams that made and won BCS-level bowls. We lost, but we didn’t get blown out and we put points on the board every week.
I know it’s not fair to compare those days with the current team, but maybe that’s what is hard to take. BYU has a huge loyal fan base, but TV’s will start to turn off, fans will stop coming to home games and the entire program will continue heading the wrong direction.
I have little hope for even solid competition from BYU going into face No. 10-ranked Wisconsin this weekend. Vegas odds makers have the Cougars as 17.5 point underdogs and that’s right about where I see the game ending up – three TD’s down – and that’s only if BYU plays better than the previous three games.
The fact is, given their remaining schedule and how they are playing, the Cougars may be lucky to win six games and become bowl eligible. But even that won’t happen without some changes in Provo.
So, what has changed at BYU this season? All I can say from my armchair QB position is that absolutely everything has changed. And it’s not all on the current team. Many of the issues have carried over from the previous coaching staff right into current times. Change can be a good thing if the players adapt to it, but obviously they haven’t.
You have a QB right now in Tanner Magnum that has all of the talent in the world, but doesn’t deserve to be behind center right now. Is there not another backup quarterback that pushed him?
You have an offensive line that has seen major changes over the years, but it doesn’t seem they can keep pressure off the QB like they need to.
You have a play-calling style that isn’t aligned with the current players. The play calling has been vanilla (or maybe no flavor at all), but that can be attributed partially to the way the offensive players are not showing up. There are definitely no plays called to keep a D coordinator on his toes.
You have a running back corps that has not truly stepped up to make a defense respect the run game.
And finally, the leadership on the field is about as low on both sides of the ball as I can personally recall. Quick, who is the vocal team leader on offense? Defense? See, no one comes to mind.
Honestly, the defense is actually O.K., but could improve in all areas. Basically, at this point nothing is heading in the right direction in Provo and it seems that everyone is sitting around waiting for change.
I do not have the answers because it seems that maybe the program is re-tooling for something different. Maybe it’s that these relatively new coaches to BYU are trying to use the previous staff’s recruits to the best of their ability while waiting for their players to fill in. Who knows?
But we’re tired – tired of losing to Utah, tired of having little or no chance in top 25 games, and tired of having a team that has no personality.
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