BYU and Arizona just announced a new 3-game series to commence in Phoenix in 2016 and conclude in 2020 in Provo. What are your thoughts on the Home-Home-Neutral aspect of this series and do you like it overall?
Carl: I like the neutral site. It creates a different dynamic for fans to see a game outside the friendly confines of LES. It’s fair to both schools, each getting a home game and it solidifies schedules by getting three-game commitments rather than just two. Arizona is right in BYU’s wheelhouse in terms of good competition from a BCS conference. Nothing to shake a stick at other than leaving BYU’s home game until last; Arizona could break the contract long before we see the home side of the deal.
Matt: I don’t get some BYU fans. I keep hearing the complaints that this is lame or why are we doing it. What do you expect? We have this little man complex in Provo but the reality is, we’re still small time and we take what we can get from those who “have.” That out of the way, I like this series. HHN is ideal for us, even if the N is near the opponent’s neighborhood. BYU is a national school and we always travel well. The Pac 12 is our regional neighbor and we need winnable games in our neck of the woods. Having said that, we haven’t exactly fared well against Arizona over the past few meetings so it isn’t exactly Washington State either. This is a great series.
Mike: I’m fine with it. Arizona is a perennial middle of the PAC12 team. It’s good to see BYU getting the home and homes. Phoenix game could have as many BYU fans as UofA fans.
Scott: I like this series. It’s nice to get on someone’s out-of-conference schedule that isn’t that far away from Provo. Seeing what the Midwest and East have to offer is a great aspect of independence, however, it’s nice for BYU to have some road games closer to home. As far as the home-home-neutral aspect is concerned, I don’t mind it. It’s a decent opponent, and there are a lot of BYU fans in Arizona. That’s what a lot of BYU fans forget when they dismiss home-home-neutral series as “basically a 2-for-1.” BYU fans are all over, and there will be plenty in Phoenix.
Carl: It has to be the running backs. We’ve been waiting for a solid running back core for what seems like an eternity. I’ve learned not to count chickens before they hatch. Jamaal Williams, Michael Alisa, and Adam Hine must keep defenses honest and surely one of them can live up to the pressure we’re putting on them.
Matt: Chris Huston of CBSSports provided the biggest hype I can think of. There is so much excitement around Taysom Hill coming into this season. If he can have a Johnny Football-type season, BYU is in for a special treat. Do I buy it? I don’t think so. I’ve grown cynical as I’ve aged and been burned by buying into Blue-goggled hype. So I’m taking this hype with a grain of salt and holding back on a wait-and-see type of basis.
Mike: Probably Taysom Hill. I think BYU fans will have high hopes for Anae as well, but Anae with one hand tied behind his back should exceed the pathetic offensive results of last year. The growing Taysom hype on the other hand smells lightly of early Heaps hype. Let’s remember Taysom was recruited by Stanford but not many other big schools. (Washington St, Utah, Arizona, Boise St) Taysom showed signs of promise last year but will be young and learning a new up-tempo scheme. His second in two years. I think BYU fans will expect the Taysom/Anae magic to be running full speed week 1. I’m hopeful Anae has a cold blooded running game as relying heavily on a sophomore QB rarely works in college football.
Scott: Naming the biggest hype coming out of Provo is difficult, because the coaches (cough, cough, Robert Anae, cough) are trying to be pretty tight lipped and slow to praise on some of their players. That said, Adam Hine is the correct answer to this question. We’ve heard the hype on him for years, and injuries and missionary service have prevented us from finding out if he’s the “real deal” or not. Now we’re hearing about the Williams-Hine-Alisa three-headed monster, and we’re all, once again, excited about Hine. I’m buying it, because it’s a scenario that doesn’t rely on Hine coming out and racking up 1,000+ yards. As part of a RB-by-committee situation, I think he can make an impact.
After this season, BYU and Utah take a two year hiatus from the Holy War. Currently, Utah rides a three game winning streak over BYU and owns victories in four of the last five games. Taken as a single game, would losing this game this year in Provo be cause for a Bronco Mendenhall firing? What about in the context of the whole season?
Carl: I’m straight up sick of losing to Utah. Bronco believes in travelling the moral high ground and refuses to stoop to the depths of Utah’s vitriol, which is basically why I hate the Holy War right now. If I get upset and nasty, I’m not being very Christ like, but if I sit there and take the verbal poundings from Utah fans, I can’t make them stop…FOR A WHOLE YEAR! Nevertheless, I don’t think Bronco sees it as a season killer, nor do I think it’s a job killer for him. It’s a demoralizer for sure, but to be fired over, not a chance. As long as he keeps winning other games.
Matt: BYU isn’t a “lose to your rival and lose your job” type of school, so that isn’t really relevant. However, it will intensify the heat on Bronco from the fan base as we can’t really stomach the thought of losing “just another game” to the men in red. We have a new offense, a new QB, a great stable of running backs, and the list goes on. It will be a tough pill to swallow.
Mike: Bronco getting fired for losing again to Utah won’t happen. We fans expect the BYU/Utah rivalry to hold Ohio St/Michigan accountability. No matter how hard we try, it’s still Happy Valley and Bronco does too much good to lose his job by losing to Utah. Bronco should be held accountable for suggesting Utah is just another game; that logic baffles me. I get he doesn’t want to hinge entire seasons on the Utah game, but to the fans that pay his lucrative contrac,t this game matters. Moreover, Utah teams are equal if not inferior to BYU most years. Losing regularly to a rival team that is on the same talent level and pretending not to care won’t get you fired at BYU but it certainly makes the fans scratch their heads.
Scott: I’ve never been a fan of the “he’s gotta beat our rival or he’s gone!” mentality. I don’t think BYU is that kind of program. Bronco Mendenhall has never had a losing season. His teams have gone to bowls and won 75% of them. And his teams seem to avoid scandals. I think Bronco adds so much more to the program than can be simplified within the Utah rivalry. That said, losing a fourth straight game to Utah will make for an awfully good Trump card for Ute fans in 2014 and 2015.
Carl: Newcomer is especially difficult because outside the Big Three, did anyone really affect games significantly? I’m going with Cory Calvert. I liked watching him just as I liked watching Matt Carlino as a freshman; completely chaotic, but plays hard and shows flashes of brilliance for the next three seasons. For most improved, I’m selecting Brandon Davies. I don’t believe there is a clear favorite, but I enjoyed watching Davies, albeit too late in the season, just willing BYU to play hard and keep his team in the game. More and more he became the leader I’d hoped he would have been from game one. For MVP, it has to be Tyler Haws. If he wasn’t scoring, BYU wasn’t winning…period. He’ll continue to be my choice for MVP as long as he’s putting up 22ppg/5rpg/2apg numbers.
Matt: Quick hits: Newcomer is Tyler Haws. He wasn’t on the team last year so that is my qualification. Most improved was Matt Carlino. He struggled at times but if you look at his year over year numbers, he improved in nearly every category and his NIT run was undeniable. MVP should be Brandon Davies, but his inability to stay on the floor consistently excludes him in my mind, leaving this award to Haws once again.
Mike: MVP was the Brandon Davies late in the year who actually realized after 5 fouls you foul out. Haws takes newcomer and most improved awards in my book. Haws in retrospect truly had an amazing year. It still defies galactic logic how average BYU was this season in a small conference with Davies and Haws.
Scott: I think one of the main problems with the team this year was that we didn’t have a great newcomer. Delgado, Ambrosino, and Calvert were all underwhelming. Bronson Kaufusi was impressive, but only because I wasn’t expecting to get much from a defensive lineman. So I have elected not to name a newcomer of the year.
The most improved player was Josh Sharp. During his freshman year, I thought he was an absolute stiff. He had hustle, but he seemed offensively inept. Not exactly sure why his playing time decreased so much in the 2nd half of the season, but through his YouTube-able dunks and solid play, he is my most improved player.
The MVP is Tyler Haws. Great shooter. Great effort. Smart player. And learning to adjust to physical play really helped him.