ATI 2013.16 Friday Night Lights

Ask the Ineligibles

FRIDAY FOOTBALL FEVERIt appears Friday night BYU football is here to stay. Is this a pro or a con?

Carl: It’s right where they should be.  Let’s face it; BYU is not yet Saturday prime-time material.  But Friday is way better than Tuesday, Wednesday, or even Thursday night prime-time.  Thursday’s make it hard to go to work the next day.  Friday games don’t allow for such a short practicing week for BYU like Thursday’s do.  Additionally, this Cougar fan likes something good to watch on Friday nights and I still don’t miss out Saturday’s full slate of other games.  Friday prime-time is the ‘sweet spot’ for BYU.

Matt: I like it.  BYU is all about exposure and this puts them front and center on the TV stage. Plus, as a ticket holder, I like the Friday night games.  Afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium is brutally hot.  Saturday games essentially cause you to lose so much of your Saturday to get your list done that it makes it rough.  Friday night gets me off work early, provides enjoyable Friday night entertainment, and gives me my whole Saturday to get done what I need to get done. I would like more Friday night home games.

Mike: I remember hearing Gordon Monson wailing like a stuck pig over Friday night football a few years ago; something about destroying the integrity of college football . . . “College football was meant to be played on Saturday!!” in his best Korean war veteran voice.  To be clear, there truly is nothing better than college football Saturdays.  But BYU is competing not only on the field, but off the field for exposure.  Playing occasionally on Thursday or Friday nights on a national stage is more valuable to the BYU brand than playing another Saturday game on a network that few people watch.  Boise State has built a national brand by beating the big boys, going undefeated in BCS games and doing most of it on ESPN Thursday nights.  BYU being the game of the night on a national stage regardless of the night is always a good thing.

Kraft BowlBYU is tied to the Kraft Hunger next season barring a BCS bowl. Is this good for BYU?

Carl: We’re facing a PAC 12 opponent.  It’s better than a CUSA opponent, and it’s a bigger payout to BYU; $850,000. The venue is not the greatest, but what’s not to love?  If you look at Kraft bowl web site, they already have BYU slotted in the game.  Again, it’s BYU playing in the sweet spot of competition for them.

Matt: Whatever.  If it isn’t a “meaningful,” post-New Years Eve bowl game, then to me, they are all the same.  Mike is going to tell you he prefers Las Vegas and given the proposal of a new stadium down there, I would agree 100% with that assessment.  I do think its good to know that you have a fine bowl tie-in before you head into the season, I just wish BYU could get a meaningful bowl tie-in for once.  I’d love to sit on my couch on New Years Day and watch my Cougars play some football.  That would be my happy new year.

Mike: It’s fine.  San Francisco is a better destination then El Paso or even San Diego. I still prefer Las Vegas as my meaningless bowl game city of choice. BYU will get another bad PAC 12 team.  From a player and program perspective, it’s good to be indy and have a bowl affiliation; in fact it is very necessary. From a fan perspective, there isn’t a difference between the Kraft Hunger, Beef ‘O” Brady or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  They will all be seen on ESPN and typically mean the end to a mediocre season.

BYU LogoGiven BYU’s honor code and academic standards is BYU the toughest school to recruit to?

Carl: Yes it’s the toughest, but only because BYU actually enforces its standards.  Scores of other universities have tougher academic standards, but all that crap flies out the window when athletics is in play.  You honestly think the likes of Terrell Pryor and Maurice Clarett had any business at Ohio State?  No way.  But tOSU and many other tier 1 schools cower at the mere thought of not cheating and trying to maintain the highest level of success.  BYU has never been willing to compromise its position on academia and honor code.  By such a hard-lined approach, recruiting is extremely narrowly-tailored.  That makes BYU’s success in athletics all the more impressive.

Matt: I feel it is the toughest, but only because we have such a narrow pool of recruits in the first place.  Our academic standards are no tougher than some of the highest schools of academia such as the Ivy League or a Stanford, but we add a moral code of conduct on top of it that isn’t enforced at these other locations.  Then to make it harder, we’re Mormon, we force the students to learn our doctrine, and they have to continually be approved by ecclesiastical leaders.  So we make it tough on ourselves.  But contrast that with Utah who doesn’t hold the same academic or moral standards.  Save a few bonus seasons where there rose to the top, BYU has consistently maintained pace with them.  My point isn’t to belittle Utah but rather reinforce, WE LIVE IN UTAH! After football is over, what else is there for them to do?

That all said, BYU has to recruit who they can get and hope that occasionally a Cody Hoffman or Kyle Van Noy slips through the cracks or a Taysom Hill decides that BYU is better for him and makes the transfer.  And you know what, we’ve done just fine with what we have.

Mike: I’ve heard for years BYU is one of the most difficult non-Ivy League places to recruit.  BYU does have a no-nonsense honor code. Academically, BYU is strong but certainly there are more difficult schools to get into.  I do believe it is difficult to get non-LDS blue chip recruits to BYU. At the same time BYU gets the distinct advantage of the LDS pipeline where almost every good LDS recruit at least considers BYU. Over the last 10 years BYU averaged a 60th ranking in football recruiting according to Rivals.com.  With the collection of 10 win seasons and Bronco’s progress, being ranked 60th in recruiting is totally unacceptable.  (Rice and Toledo tied for 60th last year) BYU is also ranked 217th in a recent Forbes list of strongest academic institutions.  Stanford for example ranked 23rd on the Forbes list and averaged 27th in football recruiting.  So the question is . . . which is more difficult for a blue chip recruit to swallow, signing BYU’s honor code or four years of elite academic standards at a school like Stanford?  It’s said BYU is not for everyone. Same could be said for colleges with brutally high academic standards.  But colleges like Stanford, Cal, Florida, Georgia, and UCLA who have significantly higher academic standards are wildly out-recruiting our BYU program.  TCU, Boston College, and not to mention Notre Dame, are religious institutions with rigid honor codes yet regularly out-recruit BYU.  In a recent student survey BYU ranked #1 in strictest college honor codes. But surprisingly North Carolina, Mississippi St, Baylor and Texas A&M rank top 10 in the same survey and have flourishing football recruiting numbers.  As a lifelong BYU fan, I’m tired of hearing the honor code as an excuse for BYU’s poor recruiting numbers. I think Bronco and company have sat back long enough, reaping the LDS pipeline, while neglecting one of the most important jobs in coaching, which is recruiting very talented players that can make a big difference only to hold up a copy of  “Talent is Overrated” when the recruiting numbers slip. Ultimately, I think if recruiting is a priority, honor codes, academics, religious affiliation become irrelevant.

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One Response to ATI 2013.16 Friday Night Lights

  1. Mike Livingston says:

    I concur.

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