As a BYU fan, what do you want more, and why: A soft schedule with more wins or a quality schedule with fewer wins?
Carl: It’s the ever-delicate balance for a ‘middie’. Schedule tough and guarantee no BCS or schedule soft and guarantee no BCS. With the upgrade to the National Championship format to a playoff system, it steers teams to competing at a higher level. It’s pushing teams into playing the best of the best in an attempt to show strength of schedule. I used to be the way of Boise St; schedule one big headline game and soft the rest of the way, but it won’t produce National Championships. In the near term, BYU has NC quality schedules through 2015. That simply wouldn’t have happened staying in a mid-major.
The second part of this equation is the emptiness that I feel by winning 10 games against the lower 1/3 of college football. Nobody likes their older brother picking on them, toying with them, and beating them to a pulp. There is no satisfaction in it for either team, unless the kid brother is collecting a check for entering the squared circle of LES. Still there is a balance in my soul that a 6-6 team that beat some good teams but lost to some good teams may not ‘feel’ as good at the end of the season as a 9-3 squad which beat up on smaller schools and completely fell apart with good competition.
In my best Mayor Quimby voice ‘I declare, more competition is the way to go!’
Don: For all it’s perceived limitations, this question focuses on the beauty of independence in my mind; the opportunity to decide for ourselves what is a quality schedule, and go out and create a schedule that works for BYU, provides balance and flexibility over time, and find the formula for success that works for BYU. No other avenue of scheduling allows this. Consider: for the past 30 years of BYU football, the complaint from Y fans has always been a lack of respect nationally because of the conferences we played in with too many worthless programs (I’m looking at you Wyoming) impairing our ability to be considered one of the big boys. The justification from national pundits has always been a knock on the lack of meaningful wins and diminishing the meaning of the occasional big win over a major program by saying you can do it once, but not over the course of a season, week after week. It is a tough pill to swallow . . . because it’s true. We have always been held back by our affiliation with the armpit conferences of College Football. This has impacted recruiting, exposure, and the ability to develop into a consistent major player in the world of CFB. This is why Cougar fans last summer were salivating and falling over themselves in their overtures to the Big XII Conference when rumors flew of potential membership. During that time I kept asking, do we really want the Big XII Conference? Be careful what you wish for. Once you join a conference with nine straight weeks of difficult games, you have to win in that conference. If I’m honest, I would say BYU is much closer as a program to the Kansas States, and Iowa States in talent level than they are to Oklahoma and Texas on a year after year basis. Ask ISU and KSU (although KSU appears poised to bust it open this year) how it feels to go decades without a conference title or ever really even being a contender. It’s gotta suck. I don’t want that. So independence provides us the ability to manage quality without biting off more than we can chew, but also avoid starving to death on the empty bone of a WAC or MWC.
Matt: Bronco apologists point to his .700 win record in eight seasons and say, “Look, he’s even better than LaVell.” The detractors look and say, “Yeah, but he can’t beat any good teams. It is all against the WAC and sub-.500 teams.” Independence can only provide two paths for BYU – national prominence and respect or toiling through public irrelevancy like Utah State did for so many years as an independent. Winning 10 games per season against Idaho and New Mexico State and Utah State (yes, I included the Aggies) only gets you “meh” in the minds of the pundits. Winning 12 games against those same teams gets you a “well done” and a pat on the back, much like what Boise State received each time it accomplished that. Scheduling relevant and historically solid teams gets you noticed. But winning those games gets you respect. I think BYU needs more of those games, like how 2013 is shaping up. In the end, if you lose them, fans are still unhappy and you mire through the mediocrity you would have waded through had you only played 12 Idaho’s.
Mike: Quality over quantity. I’d like to see BYU finish 5th in the Big 12 over 10 win meaningless seasons. Reasoning, I just want BYU to get better. Finishing 5th in a tough conference would force BYU coaches and administration to improve the program year over year. As we’re seeing some of Bronco’s 10 win seasons keep things nice and comfy for everyone involved which breeds mediocrity.
As BYU enters its final three weeks of the 2012 campaign against relatively powder puff competition, what do you want to see from this team in order to deem this final run successful?
Carl: I’d love to see our future. Start allowing some of next year’s talent get some game experience in preparation for a grueling 2013. As I’ve mentioned previously, any offensive production will be hollow to me. Nothing the rest of this season will save or improve upon the sham that our offense has been this season. We’ll see the defense be focused and most first team players should be sitting by halftime.
Don: Three wins to finish out and a fourth over SDSU in the Poinsettia Bowl; anything else is failure. This defense is too good to lose to the teams we have left. The offense needs to clean things up and finish strong, and the overall emphasis of the team and coaches needs to be a focus on 2013. Bronco will not look past this week and treat every game the same and blah blah blah. Bullcrap coach! 2012 is what it is, you should be able to sleep walk through the final four games, and even if you don’t, you’ll still end up with the same prize. As a fan I want to just enjoy the rest of the season, even if it’s just Idaho or Holy Trinity of the Virgin Mother de Guadalupe Evangelical College for all I care, because frankly I hate the off-season and no football until next season. But for the coaches, I want a development of talent for the players we will rely on during a crazy 2013 schedule, a focus on cleaning out the garbage among coaches from any petty differences to a coach himself if needed, and I want a complete change psychologically in this team going into the off-season and into 2013.
Matt: Complete and utter dominance. I want to see long drives and short drives. I want to see passing. I want to see James Lark and Jason Munns take snaps. I want to see Jamaal Williams and Paul Lasike get to the century mark. I want the offensive line to show that they have the potential to live up to their pre-season hype. I want to see the defense get three straight shutouts and have at least a + 2 in the turnover margin each week. Then I will be satisfied that these final three weeks were successful.
Mike: Barring a top 10 opponent in the Poinsettia Bowl I can’t think of a scenario where the end of 2012 can make up for losses at Utah, Boise St, Oregon St and ND. From a player’s perspective they need to get better regardless of who is on the schedule. From a fan’s perspective, I’ll watch the remaining home games are “give away” games meaning I’ll be giving my tickets away.
Assuming BYU wins out, including a Novell Netware 4 Bowl victory (sorry for the software humor . . . I sell it,)what percentage of BYU fans forget the offensive/special teams woes, the one win vs. a quality opponent, and chalk up 2012 as a successful season? And is Tom Holmoe one of those fans?
Carl: If you seriously follow BYU football, less than 10% should call this a successful season. Holmoe would not be part of the 10%, yet outwardly he may claim it as such. And for the record, I’m not qualifying Georgia Tech as a quality win. Depending on how the season finishes, I could make a better argument for Utah State being the quality on the schedule. Anyway, notwithstanding the horrendous nature of our offense, we should be a one-loss team at seasons end. Not being able to finish games was a huge problem for the Cougars and that won’t magically go away next season with Riley Nelson gone.
Don: Tricky question, because it presents a damned if you do and damned if you don’t view point to the overall situation. What are administrators and coaches supposed to do? It’s easy to say they should just be open and honest and call a spade a spade, but that also is dicey. 2012 had some good and more bad, and winning out against crappy teams doesn’t erase the things that need to be cleaned up. But the problem of cleaning it up in an insanely competitive industry like CFB is very difficult, and success or failure can come down to the overall psychology of a team and a program. I respect Bronco for not airing out his dirty laundry in public after games or in moments of high emotions, even if it’s annoying as anything to me as a fan. How he deals with it in private is critical and I wish I knew, though I suspect it’s MUCH different than what any of us supposes. Bronco has to sell the program to recruits and TH to other schools to build a schedule and that is a difficult task that doesn’t need to be made harder by presenting a negative viewpoint of your own program. Frankly, a truckload of optimism and sunshine blown up you skirt coupled with a healthy dose of reality is a pretty good recipe for building a long term winning program. I get sick of listening to Y fans complain and whine all the time, contributing to the problem while doing nothing to add to a solution. Those are Obama fans to me…all takers and no producers.
Matt: Unfortunately, many fans, I’d put that number over 50% (here’s looking at the Blue Hairs and Mr. You Don’t Play Afternoon Games Anymore) who think this season is then successful because BYU “fixed” the problems. And no, I’m not among those I count in that category. I’m of the mindset that we still didn’t win a meaningful game all season (again, sorry Aggie fans, you aren’t meaningful yet). And what’s worse is this season you can’t help but play the “One play” game with regards to Utah, Boise State, and Notre Dame and it only makes you more frustrated. You can’t help but reflect on the mismanagement of the quarterbacks that left Taysom Hill broken and Riley Nelson in a position to insult the very fans that show up to cheer on his team each week. So many what ifs and so closes that I want to just tattoo my arm with the phrase “Moral victory.”
And no, I am confident Tom Holmoe does not count himself among the deluded “This was a successful season” fans. He will be very proactive this off-season.
Mike: I have healthy faith Tom Holmoe sees what we see. Unfortunately I believe there is also a healthy percentage of BYU fans that believe if they see BYU try real hard and a Poinsettia Bowl banner is hanging from LES all must be well in the world.
What are some ways BYU can improve the quality of their tailgates?
Carl: I’ll admit, this is my question. And the truth of the matter is that tailgates will never be on par with SEC or even Sun Belt tailgates. Why? The simple answer is BYU fans care more about other things in life than to make tailgating a priority. And that’s ok by me. I live in SEC and Sun Belt country. These fans here are fanatical. It’s so hard to describe. First, they don’t just tailgate for a few hours; it’s at least a full day before the game. Second, the food is head and shoulders above anything I’ve tasted at BYU’s, but that could be a regional thing. Third, tailgates actually have their own economy. There are companies down here that the reason they’re in business is they provide the tailgating equipment. From monstrous flat screen TV’s, to Wii’s and Xbox’s, to kid gaming, to food, they make a living by setting up, renting out and taking down of tailgates. Its mind-blowing how much people waste on tailgating. And that doesn’t even cover the tradition aspect. Some BYU fans saw that at Notre Dame, but most ever SEC school has some form of tradition. Again, it’s ok that BYU never gets there, but if they want to get there, I’d suggest renting 25 huge tailgaters from Ole Miss, UGA, LSU, or FLA for an entire season and learning from the best.
Don: O’Douls on tap . . . . If you can’t drink real beer, fake it ’til you make it 🙂 Joking. How can they fix it? BYU administrators have always been out of touch with weird rules at sporting events. Get them out of the equation and let TH set up a panel of voices from the AD and fans to find realistic solutions to what holds tailgating back at BYU. There will always be limitations on BYU tailgating scenes because, well, we are Mormons and that means kids’ games and other activities will hold back a lot of fans from developing traditions, not to mention the main reason most fans tailgate at other schools…for the beer. But BYU can find solutions to developing new traditions, creating a cool area near the stadium that’s NOT an ugly parking lot (see the Grove at Ole Miss), that will be a place fans want to come to and tailgate and create new traditions. If the admin at BYU will get out of the way, the fans can create something that, by BYU standards, could be pretty special over time.
Matt: Having not been to one this season, I can’t speak from experience (though I am going this weekend.) However, proximity to the Stadium would be paramount. Fans just want to park where they are going to park and then have an experience, well, at least those fans that want to experience football and not just show up to cheer in person rather than at their TV (yes, I am once again talking to the Blue Hairs – if I want to stand up, I will stand up. You can go watch the game with a hot chocolate and sit in your Laz-E-Boy.) Allowing the existing tailgate movement to move closer to the stadium could reinforce the bond between fans to one another. Proximity might even allow for a new tradition in the vein of Notre Dame or Ole Miss where the players walk through the tailgate to the stadium while the fans are close by. I mean heck, even the Dallas Cowboys figured out that bit when they have the players leave the locker room through the restaurant where the fans are sitting close at hand. Fans want to have interaction with each other and with the team. Make it happen Mr. Holmoe.
Mike: I’ve seen tailgating done right in practically every region in the US. All had designated tailgating near the stadium. BYU’s challenge is we’re just trying to build a tailgating culture…some of us anyway. Motivation to purchase a 5th wheel trailer with 3 big screen TVs, a $5,000 generator, a mobile BBQ/Smoker, an old school bus all with a custom paint job of your favorite college team comes from growing up in a tailgating culture. If I asked my wife to purchase the actual horse trailer that was used to transport the original Cosmo Cougar she would most likely threaten to divorce me. In Texas, Baton Rouge, Wisconsin you might be divorced for not purchasing such a thing.
Which specific areas of their game are you hoping Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies improve upon from last year?
Carl: I’d like to see Carlino shake the mentality that he must carry the torch that Jimmer had. Jimmer was a freak of nature not seen in college basketball in years. Carlino doesn’t need to be Jimmer, he needs to be Carlino. And he’s got talent, nobody will disagree with me on that. I want to see Carlino advance mentally; follow the flow of the game, good decision making at key moments in games, not believing that he must do everything. And if he could shoot a better percentage, that’s always a bonus.
For Davies, I want to see this BYU-Lifer stud make a case for the NBA. Watching him power down low with the bigs, but show the finesse of an all-around shot. It’s imperative that he learns how to play tough defense without taking on fouls. They’ll be thinner behind him, so playing a lot of minutes and showing durability will be important. He’s our best player, team leader, and offensive weapon. Go make them look childish Davies, it’s been a long road for you and you deserve a great season.
Don: Davies: develop a better back-to-the-basket game and a consistent outside shot to stretch the defenders, and become a better rebounder, particularly on the offensive glass.
Carlino: slow the bleep down and quit playing like a spaz. He’s so talented, but he ain’t the Jimmer. Carlino right now is the basketball version of Riley Nelson. Occasionally makes plays no one else on the team can make, but hide yo kids, hide yo wife in between. If he can be coachable, know his role, and stay within that role 95% of the time, he could be great. I hope he can do so, because he’s a talent without doubt and when he’s special…he looks insanely good.
Matt: Matt Carlino needs to hold onto the ball and slow down just a bit. Let the game come to him and not be so swift to make an errant pass or jack up long shots. Patience will be his biggest friend this season. And don’t forget, you aren’t Jimmer, so please, for the love of Jimmer, don’t try to be Jimmer.
For Brandon Davies’ part, similar advice. This year, this is 100% your team. Don’t forget that. Be a leader, both emotionally and in the game. Again, let the game develop around you and let it come to you. Don’t feel like you need to do it all. Play tough defense because BYU can grab a blocked or missed shot from your defense and make a quick transition the other way. Staying in games will be your best contribution you can make this season.
Mike: I remember Charles Barkley lighting up Carlino at half time of Iona game for points-to-turnover ratio. Carlino needs to play within Rose’s system and understand he’s part of a team. He has every single tool to be a BYU great. Hopefully this is the year he turns the corner.
If Davies can learn to play defense without getting into foul trouble he will have a giant year. He can be as good as any player in the WCC. BYU goes only as far as Davies takes them.