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  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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ATI 2013.15 Debunking the Hype

Ask the Ineligibles

BYU AZ SeriesBYU 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.

HillWhat is the biggest hype you are hearing out of Provo at this point that fans will blow out of proportion by fall? Are you buying into it?

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.

BYU UtahAfter 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. 

dnews 0303bkccougars.spt_ byu  jaLet’s talk basketball. Who was your newcomer of the year? Most improved player of the year? MVP?

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.

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Shaping History

BYU LOGOLast season, Riley Nelson joined a group of players with names such as Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, Austin Collie, Harvey Unga, Jamal Willis, and Cody Hoffman.  Now, I know what you are thinking.  You’re thinking, “What the heck is he getting at? How could anyone possibly connect Nelson to all those greats?”  Well, that’s why I’m here.  I’ll tell you how.

Each of these players has shaped the course of BYU history (Hoffman is still doing it as he sits only 18 receptions shy of passing Dennis Pitta and 537 yards and 2 touchdowns from passing Collie as the all-time leader in each of those three categories.)  Last season, Nelson had his own defining effect of BYU’s program, albeit a negative one.  But, in the course of history, he left his stamp on a program that didn’t need that sort of negativity.  I’m not going to rehash the season; we did that enough on this very blog and on many others.  I’m not really here to bash on Riley Nelson.  He was a pretty bad player, but he was a pretty good dude.  I don’t think there was any denying it.  He wanted to play, at all costs (who wouldn’t?), and the coaches and trainers allowed it.  We all clamored for James Lark, but there had to be something seriously wrong with him that it took a season-ending injury to a freshman back up before he ever sniffed the field.  So, its hard to blame Nelson, despite the regrettable season he had.

HillSophomore Taysom Hill has a chance to leave his own indelible mark on this program, and all of Cougar Nation is hoping he will.  Last week, Hill was named the starter coming out of spring camp and heading into offseason workouts and eventually fall camp.  The second year player looks to take the reigns and find success in offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s new “go fast and go hard” offense.  Former Anae student, Nate Meikle recently recounted his experience in an Anae offense where the coach preached “Start fast.”  Anae was able to find success with that philosophy and reports from camp suggest that while still learning, the offense is finding its way in this high-tempo offense that hopes to run off 90 + offensive snaps per game.

Hill is a confident and talented young man.  He had the chops that got him recruited to play for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford prior to serving his mission.  He has the arm to make all the throws that fans of BYU expect their quarterback to make.  He has the legs to extend plays, keep a defense honest, and just to make things happen.  My favorite play of the season last year was watching Hill run away from the Hawaii defense en route to a 68 yard touchdown run into the endzone where I was standing and cheering.

Hill has all the skills he needs and the confidence to tie it all.  But he also has the football IQ to know when it makes sense to get that extra yard and when it makes sense to live to play another down (or so we hope.)  The skills are there, the confidence is there, and the leadership should be there.  Hopefully, it all comes together to push Hill into the annals of BYU history and a program-changing player.

Cougar Notables

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?

Boise State at BYU will happen one day earlier than previously announced . . . though it really comes at no surprise.  ESPN announced that the game would air at 6PM on Friday, October 25 in Provo as to play to a national audience.

Don’t forget to watch the NFL draft on Thursday, April 25 at 6 pm and watch where our homeboy Ziggy Ansah gets drafted.  If you missed it, check out this article on ESPN about him.

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ATI 2013.14 – Hoops Haikus and Ziggy!

Ask the Ineligibles


Carlino IICarl is feeling poetic about the BYU basketball season that just closed.  Write your best haiku to describe what you felt about the recently completed season.

 Carl: So my haiku uses acronyms, but I’m only counting them for 1 syllable total:

Lack of wins hurts bad

NIT run makes all pains empty

BYU heals all hurt hearts


High hopes died early

Haws and Davies went beast mode

Can’t wait for ‘13

Mike: An ode to Matt Carlino:

There once was a point guard from Scottsdale whose obsession to become Jimmer made for a wondrous tale.  He had grit and soul and  in crunch time became a black hole, in the end leaving the ’12-’13 season an epic fail.


Wait until next year

These guys will get much better

Or the year after


ZiggyThe meteoric rise of Ziggy Ansah has been fun to watch, and we’re getting closer to the pinnacle (maybe) of his story. Where will he end up (team, draft pick), and why?

Carl: I don’t think he goes past 10th pick overall.  Teams are gushing at the prospect of picking and molding Ziggy in to an NFL  player.  If I had to guess, I’d pick Detroit at 5 to take him off the board.  What’s making him so special is the rawness of his talent and limitless nature of his motor.  Ziggy flat out goes hard every single snap.  NFL coaches see him as a tremendous opportunity to mold him in to a top quality pass rusher.  No matter who gets him, they will get a great player.  He may have some growing pains for the first little while, but if he stays persistent, he’s going to be great in the NFL.

Matt: Unfortunately, I see the Lions picking him up and dragging him off to Motor City. Detroit is dysfunctional enough, but in my mind, having to play alongside of Ndamukong Suh seems nightmarish to me for a still impressionable young man.  Suh is so toxic, but I digress.  But, if that issue were set aside, I like the Lions for him.  He won’t be expected to produce earlier than he can as that front 4 is super talented.  I’ve heard Jacksonville may be interested, but I think its smoke.  I think Cleveland would be a good place to learn from Paul Kruger, but if he weren’t there, I don’t really like that as a landing place for Ziggy.  If I could pick him anywhere, I’d love to see him on the right side of the 3-down line in Dallas pushing the line and opening lanes for DeMarcus Ware to have a bigger Kyle Van Noy-type impact on the field by rushing in behind him.  My bet is he ends up in Detroit though.  But don’t blame a guy for hoping.

Mike: Comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul leave me hoping the Giants take him at #10. It would be frightening to think of Ziggy on one side and Pierre-Paul on the other side of New York’s defensive line.

Scott: I think he ends up in Cleveland with the 6th draft pick. As a Dolphins fan, I’d like to see him fall further, but his stock has risen so much, there’s really no way that happens. Cleveland has made efforts to improve its defense in free agency, and adding Ziggy in the draft will add needed talent to its D-Line.

Jamaal WilliamsWhich BYU running back class was the best?  How does the upcoming Mike Alisa, Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine class rank?

Carl: BYU hasn’t been in the running back factory for a long time.  In all other seasons in the past, I can’t think of a potentially 3-headed running back core that could match this season’s.  Alisa and Williams have both proven to be effective within BYU’s system and Hine has been pressuring them both during spring practices.  It remains to be seen how this season will play out for the running backs, but they could amass more combined yards than any other tandem or trio in BYU history.

Matt: I’m trying to hold off on putting on my blue goggles here.  In 1996, BYU rushed as a team for over 2500 yards.  That does include quite a bit by Sark, but not something that Taysom Hill can’t cover.  They averaged 48 carries per game and nearly 4.4 YPC.  If BYU is to go fast and go hard as has been mentioned, racking up 90 plays per game, this is not only possible, but quite likely.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves.  In front of every great running back(s) is a great offensive line and our line has been anything but great the past few years.  Getting this trio to the top rung on this ladder will require great line play and a great passing game.  Garret Tujague will have to step his unit’s play up, the QB will be better but it needs to be A LOT better, and then this offense will fly all season.  If this unit can make it even close to 2500 yards this season, I expect it will be a very fun season indeed.

Mike: In 1996, BYU had Ronney Jenkins, Brian Mckenzie and Dustin Johnson. To me that is the best running back class BYU has ever had. Jenkins and Johnson ended up on NFL rosters which is remarkable considering BYU rarely has NFL talent at running back. This season’s depth chart could be more potent. I’m a huge Alisa fan and fighting for playing time vs. two studs might be exactly what he needs. If Williams/Hine can stay focused and not take the Ronney Jenkins/Northern Arizona detour they might go down as the best all time.

Scott: This group of RBs definitely takes home the all-hype award. I’m not saying they are all hype, but this question comes from what we think we are going to get from Adam Hine. We’ll see. Nevertheless, I can’t think of a group of BYU RBs has had with more potential than these guys. And to think, Josh Quezada transferred last year!

BYU Utah RivalryWith BYU entering its 3rd year of independence and Utah entering its 3rd year in the PAC12 which fan base should be more excited?

Carl: What I’m being asked here is ‘Which team has underperformed less since leaving the MWC?’ Neither has much to hang their hats on.  Utah is in a more secure position in terms of conference affiliation, which is a plus in my view.  But BYU has been more exciting.  We’re slowly scheduling stronger and BYU’s product is being exposed to more viewers than the PAC’s.  BYU is clearly winning this race for right now.

Matt: Oh man, someone is trying to start a firestorm here aren’t they? Could I be unbiased even if I wanted to be?  I don’t think so. And it wouldn’t matter because if I still chose BYU, no one would believe me.  But here it is.  I think BYU’s fans have more to be optimistic and excited about. Utah has a very tough football conference to play in and until their talent level comes up, we know they will usually be a middle of the road team.  But BYU is improving across the board. The schedule is what we’ve been promised.  The team has a new look and feel about it. If execution can finally return to matching expectations, this season will be a lot of fun.  However, that is true of the Utes as well.  As a BYU fan, I quickly say that BYU has more to be excited about, but if Utah can get it together and get their execution to match their expectations, I’d be pretty excited as a Ute fan and I would certainly argue that the Ute fans have more to be excited about.  I’m going to cheat my way out of this and say it’s a toss up (and I don’t think that is very far off.)

Mike: Ute fans will tell you about the PAC12/Fox revenue their sub-par football and basketball seasons have generated. Unless Chris Hill is sending profit sharing checks to the fan base I’ve never understood a fan touting annual revenue. Utah became very average very quickly in the two sports that matter. Not to say BYU isn’t just as average but BYU is able to put make up on their football and basketball seasons by building their own independent/WCC schedules. No doubt last year’s Riley/Doman debacle wouldn’t have been bowl eligible with a Pac12 schedule. Same could be said for Rose’s most recent 20 win season. As for which fan base should be more excited?  I have to think BYU fans have more hope. By the look of all the PAC12 bumper stickers, T-shirts and billboards, the Ute Nation has gone the way of Vanderbilt fan, Purdue fan and Washington St. fan pretending conference success is more significant then actual team performance.

Scott: I think BYU fans should be more excited. Would I rather BYU be in the Pac-12 or Big 12? Sure, but that isn’t what the question asks. Utah only won 4 games last year and that schedule didn’t feature Stanford or Oregon. Without any big changes to the team, I don’t see anything to make them hope for a better season this year. BYU, on the other hand, has an elite defense returning much of its cast, a QB and RB with the kind of talent BYU rarely sees, a WR on the verge of a record-breaking career, and an offensive coaching staff with ability to put it together. Additionally, BYU’s schedule features a rich variety of games without a single unwinnable game. Rise and shout, Cougar fans!

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ATI 2013.13 CTR and Screw the Lakers!

Ask the Ineligibles

NITAs the Cougars basketball season came to a close, fans realized this team wasn’t going to the Dance and opinions about this team ensued.  We debated that very topic here.  I don’t think anyone saw BYU’s run though Hattiesburg onto New York City and the lights of Madison Square Garden. What has been the catalyst behind BYU’s run through the NIT?

Carl: A little curry, paprika, luck and a whole lot boiling on high heat.  The luck piece was facing Mercer, who upset Tennessee, in the second game.  The high heat is obviously the high tempo they’ve been playing at.  Since the beginning of the year, BYU has averaged 75 ppg.  In the last three, 86.  The number could be higher in part to weaker teams and defenses.  But in the second and third games particularly, Brock Zylstra has been the key.  Cougar fans, the last two games are the ‘what could’ve been’ for BYU’s season.  This is what happens when you have a fourth shooter/scorer/contributor in the arsenal.  Defenses simply can’t defend all the key contributors, leaving gaps and opportunities for BYU to beat you.  If only Brock could’ve shaken the psycho-demons out earlier; no doubt BYU would have been in March Madness.  But if he continues tonight, they can beat Baylor.

Matt: Since I have the advantage over these guys that I’ve already seen the Baylor game, I have the ability to speak to what happened in a loss.  Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies continued to play well.  Tyler Haws did Tyler Haws.  However, the rest of the team struggled and therein lies the major issue of the season.  No depth.  If the Big 3 were off, who took care of business? During these first three games, the bench could be counted on to help when needed and the supporting players did just that . . . supported.  In the Baylor game, they disappeared.  I think that the additional support from the bench and the supporting roles (Austin and Zylstra) provided Matty with the confidence to play like a man possessed.  Davies played like he never wanted this to end.

Mike: I’ll admit I had as much interest in BYU’s NIT success as I had in the Pro Bowling Masters a few weeks ago, which is none. Seemed like a lose/lose even for the most myopic BYU Hoops fan. BYU loses 1st round…lose. BYU wins NIT…lose. I’ve since pulled a Karl Malone 360 (which equals a 180). I’m as intrigued as anyone as to how far BYU can go at the same time equally intrigued as to where this chemistry was when the season actually mattered.

Scott: I felt good – not great – about BYU’s chances to make it past both Washington and Mercer. However, I thought the Cougars’ run would end there. The consistently stellar play of Matthew Carlino in NIT games cannot go unnoticed here: 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 9 assists and 1.7 steals. THIS is the Matt Carlino BYU fans thought they were getting. If he continues to play as he has, BYU is capable of raising the championship trophy at the end of the NIT.

WeberWhich team has been more impressive in the postseason, BYU in NIT or Weber St. in CIT?

Carl: This is actually a tougher question than it should be.  You’d think the NIT is a little better caliber teams, thus BYU’s run should be better.  But Weber St. has won 4 games instead of three.  And two of those wins were over once bubble-worthy’s Air Force and Northern Iowa.  NIU was actually at one time firmly on top of the bubble until 2 bad losses to close the season and a 1st round exit in the MVC tourney sent them to the CIT.  Still, that team held wins over Final Four bound Wichita St., and March Madness entrants Creighton and St. Mary’s.  Air Force was no slouch going 8-8 and finishing 6th in the 5-bid MWC.  Air Force beat every other MWC March Madness entrant at least once except Colorado St.  Yet, Weber St. has destroyed the CIT tourney, beating its opponents by an average of 19 points per game.  Maybe there’s not as much incentive to play for some of these teams, but don’t tell Weber St. that!  Weber has been playing better this postseason.

Matt: BYU by a landslide. The way BYU played its way into the NIT suggested this team would disappear on night one, but they didn’t.  Weber is a talented team in a league that gets no love and when you don’t win your league or conference championship, you don’t get to play in a good tournament.  BYU by a mile here, but man, WSU got jobbed on that three pointer.

Mike: I’d say BYU mostly because I had no idea there was tournament less interesting then the NIT. As a responsible contributor to ATI I probably should research which community colleges Weber St beat to advance in the CIT. That said, it’s difficult to think of a team with BYU’s talent who played worse down the stretch of the regular season. Flipping the switch the way BYU has is pretty remarkable. It’s much like Florida Gulf Coast, Lasalle and Wichita’s tragic it’s happening in the NIT.

Scott:  I’ll be honest, I don’t follow Weber State at all, so take what I write with a grain of salt. It’s hard to imagine any CIT run is more impressive than an NIT run. (Just like I don’t see how an NIT run could be more impressive than a NCAA run.) It’s great for any team to be able to finish its season winning games in a tournament. The way BYU has been winning games – each by double-digit points – against more competitive teams makes it no contest: BYU’s run is more impressive.

CTRBYU held their annual spring scrimmage on Saturday.  What are your thoughts on what transpired?

Carl: Nothing exciting or noteworthy jumped out at me other than Ammon Olsen getting injured.  That should solidify the starting job to Taysom Hill, if he wasn’t already the starter.  Other than that, BYU appropriately rested all the big stars, letting the younger guys have some time.

Matt: Good offense, mediocre defense.  Wasn’t much to get excited about.  I enjoyed how Ammon Olsen played and really was impressed with the play of newcomer Christian Stewart, but the biggest takeaway was that one of Anae’s cards for his “Go fast and go hard” system is a CTR symbol.  Yes, you will see CTR this year on ESPN.

Mike: From the sound of it rarely did first teams go against first teams. The Spring Game was sold as an actual “Game” but appeared to be another practice with sprinkles on it.  Anae summed it up perfectly saying “Our ‘D’ was resting their studs. So write that in your little papers, OK? Do not take anything here and blow it [out of proportion]. It was not that great, and it was not that bad.” For me it was just another spring game. I remember Crowton trying to score 100 points in the spring game to give the illusion that the offense was going to be a beast. Probably the most refreshing part of Spring Game ’13 was Anae’s brutal honestly. Loving Anae take 2.

Scott: When you’re watching a scrimmage that is lacking most of the team’s stars, I’m not sure it’s safe to take much from it. (Robert Anae and I see eye-to-eye on this.)  Nevertheless, it is good to see BYU’s offense put some points on the board, and it’s even better to see the coaching staff not be satisfied with their production. (“Go faster, go harder!”) If they can get to the level Anae seems to want from the offense, BYU will be a very dangerous team in the fall. I’m encouraged by what happened on Saturday, and hopefully, BYU can build on that.

Lakers suckThe Utah Jazz currently own the 8th seed in the West by a half game over the Lakers.  Is it better for Jazz to limp into the playoffs as an 8th seed or miss the playoffs altogether?

Carl: Is there a difference in being the 8th team or the 9th team?  YES!  Play the playoffs, no matter if the Jazz are limping.  They’re not limping as badly as the Lakers.  You never know what can happen.  Plus there is value in getting younger players experience in the postseason.  But what we do know is Jazz will get additional home games and a chance to put it all together for a playoff run.

Matt: They need to be in the playoffs.  Here are my reasons in no order.  1 – Experience.  Next year the youngsters seemingly get the reigns.  Any experience helps. 2 – Who cares if they get swept again?  Getting the 15th or 16th pick vs. the 14th pick is a wash; they’ll likely package it for a better one anyway.  3 – Screwing the Lakers.  We get in, they don’t.  We get in, they also lose their first round pick to Phoenix.  We get in, we can hold it over the heads of all those sellout bandwagon Laker fans that call SLC home.  Did I say we get to screw over the Lakers?

Mike: Let me preface by saying I am a huge Jazz fan…that said I think if Ty Corbin and this underachieving Jazz team stumble and fall into the meaningless 8th seed only to get bounced in probably 4 straight it’s worse for the Jazz big picture then actually missing the playoffs. Making the playoffs most likely buys Corbin another year. It’s clear the Jazz have the blooming talent to be something other then an 8 seed in the west. I think a coaching reset might be exactly what this Jazz team needs going forward.

Scott: The correct answer is playoffs. What does getting the last lottery pick get you? The 14th pick instead of the 15th? Such a small difference. Take the excitement of the playoffs. Even though I’ve never lived in Utah and I’m not a Jazz fan, this is actually my favorite question from this week’s “Ask the Ineligibles.” What I am is a Phoenix Suns fan. A Phoenix Suns fan with a lot of interest in how the Jazz (read: Lakers) do. If the Jazz get into the playoffs, that means the Lakers don’t, and THAT means the Suns will get their lottery pick (via the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal). A lottery pick in exchange for a player we didn’t expect to get much, if anything, for. (He was a free agent, so we assumed he was just gone.) So do it for us! Help us rebuild Phoenix!

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ATI 2013.12 Was Anae Take II the Right Decision?

Ask the Ineligibles

AnaeI, for one, think “Anae Take 2” is was a good hire by Bronco Mendenhall. However, were the Anae Project to fail, what would it mean for Bronco, Tom Holmoe and BYU football in general?

Carl: If Anae were to fail again it would be cause for Tom Holmoe to rethink re-hires.  I’m not sure it’s a great idea to re-hire former employees.  However, in this situation, you get the feeling that Anae was more the scapegoat than anything in his previous departure.  So this is more like an extension of employment through a two-year leave of absence.  In general, Holmoe is a smart cookie and the percentages say he’ll make the right decision more times than not.  BYU needed a better man for the offense at the helm and they got one.

Matt: This may just be blind fan-hood coming through, but I believe in Tom Holmoe.  At the risk of sounding like a nerd, let me paraphrase Remus Lupin from Harry Potter when he’s telling Harry why he trusts Professor Snape: “I trust Tom Holmoe. Therefore, I trust Robert Anae.” Look, these young men are always leaving for two years and coming back, generally better than when they left.  And in this case, Anae didn’t step away from the game; he only worked on it in a tougher situation (read: PAC 12 opponents.)  He has to be better. If we are to truly believe what we’ve been told, he left because he didn’t like the locker room.  He came back and the locker room is now his.  If he can’t be happy, then Holmoe blew it.  If he’s successful, then Holmoe looks like a genius.

I’m not going into this with even a modicum of speculation that this might not work.  It has to work or this just might set the program back for a long time.

Mike: I’m optimistic that Robert Anae will not only rebuild the BYU offense but will also be Bronco’s ultimate successor.  If the Anae Project fails, Bronco will have another poor hire to add to his resume.  A head coach is graded on a variety of duties from wins/losses, graduation rates to recruiting and coaching hires.  Bronco has seen success in wins/losses and graduation but has been average in recruiting and in my opinion below average in coaching hires.  Hiring coaches is a tough gig at BYU, but finding the diamond in the rough is still part of Bronco’s job description.  If Anae turns out to be another bad Bronco hire I think you’ll see Holmoe become very involved in the hiring process.

Scott:  I don’t want to answer this, because I feel like there is no way he can fail, because, to me, failure = the offense not getting better than it was last season. But if he were to fail, Bronco’s seat would get very, very warm. I don’t want to say he’d be gone, because I truly don’t think he’d get fired before he had a losing season. Maybe he’d resign. I think Tom Holmoe would remain unscathed, but the BYU football program would have to ask some very tough questions. If he fails, it would be very dark times for the program.

top-25In a never-too-early attempt to rank college football’s elite, Dennis Dodds of CBS Sports ranked his top 25 and BYU made the list. How does Cougar Nation feel about this?

On the other foot, BYU has three opponents also on that list.  What does that say about BYU’s strength of schedule in 2013?

Carl: Respected, but at 25, it’s almost like a canvas for putting a team on the map that could be strong, but if they don’t come to fruition, the writer isn’t ruining their reputation over it.  National writers know that with BYU’s schedule, they could hang in the top 25 most of the season with 1, 2, even 3 losses.

As stated above, no impartial writer or fan will dispute that, on paper, BYU’s schedule is stronger.  Some would argue it’s stronger than any Big East or MWC schedule.  The teams the Cougars will face still have to have good seasons for BYU to look good nationally.  But this further proves, at least in the short term, that Independence has more benefits than drawbacks.  And please tell me if I’m wrong on this, BYU season ticket holders are a lot more excited by getting Texas, GaTech, Utah and Boise St than your MWC opponents to watch at home.

Matt: In a single sound, meh.  Whatever.  Last year Arkansas was a preseason darling and look what happened to them.  Contrastingly, Notre Dame wasn’t even in the top 25 to start and look where they ended up.  When it comes to it, you can only play who is in front of you and you “play to win the game.”  Even the team that Dodds ranks as his worst team in college football can make the top 25 if they only just win.  This is the one respect where the BCS has it right.  Let the first 4 or 5 weeks play out and then rank your teams from nil.  Then we’ll have an idea of who’s who.

Now that I’ve ranted about preseason rankings, let me just be the one to answer Carl.  Yes, as a season ticket holder, I am excited.  I don’t care who is or is not ranked right now because when we face them (save Texas) it won’t be close to what it is now.  But seeing Texas, Utah, Boise, State, and Georgia Tech is far better than anything we ever saw in the MWC days.  And if BYU can hold its own this season, they will prove that not only does independence work, but it was the right choice.

Mike: It’s certainly optimistic.  The Robert Anae hire, coupled with the potential of another highly ranked defens,e seems to be enough to crack the Dodds Top 25. Dodds goes on to say . . . “But these are not your grandpa’s Cougars. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy may go into 2013 as the nation’s best defensive player” What’s that saying . . . “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”?

I don’t recall a potentially more difficult schedule than the upcoming 2013 schedule.  The table is set for BYU to make the run all fans have been waiting for.  The defense should be there and the offense is being overhauled to look nothing like the Doman dumpster fire from 2012.  Texas and Boise St coming to Provo bodes well.  Let’s hope Notre Dame is as over-rated in 2013 as they were in 2012.

Scott:  I don’t like it. I was shocked by it, because, no matter how I feel about the team, I didn’t think BYU was on anybody’s radar, and I don’t want them to be. I want very little to be expected from them by national guys and by other teams. I want BYU to be a national surprise.

BYU’s list of 2013 opponents has the potential to be one of the most difficult ever. However, this is all based on preseason rankings, and they’re never THAT accurate. There are a lot of intriguing matchups that could garner national attention. If BYU can find a way to make an impressive run, there will be no shortage of attention for them, but BYU has to win these games.

Adam Hine

Outside the major players, who seems to impress you at BYU’s spring practices?

Carl: Going back to the offense; Skyler Ridley and Mitch Mathews.  Anae needs dependability and trust at the wide receiver position to make his offense efficient.  Taysom Hill is learning to build trust with receivers not named Hoffman or Apo.  Having 2 additional, quality route-runners and possession receivers will be vital for BYU to be successful offensively.  Look for those two guys to be the glue in between the high fire power of the rest of the offense.

Matt: At this point, I’m qualifying this question by saying “major” means only those who aren’t expected to practice much this spring; Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman.  Therefore, I am taking liberty to discuss pretty much whomever I want to.

Taysom Hill – Mendenhall says he is probably the front runner right now and will make his choice when spring camp is done.  That is huge for the sophomore signal caller from Idaho.  Being named the starter early will give him the advantage to practice with the people who matter in the offseason and then start from “go” in fall.

Adam Hine – Anae’s offense is going to be fast and that will require a fresh back.  We all love Jamaal Williams but we saw him fail at blocking at San Jose State.  We like what we got from Mike Alisa, but I feel it was more to the fact that he was really just the least sucky of the backs in 2011.  We like that Paul Lasike can be a bruiser, but I’m hearing that Hine can really do just a fair amount of all the preceding names.  He can slice and cut, he can bruise, he can catch and block.  If he can, he’ll have a huge role in this offense.  I still think that Williams is the primary back, but there will be room for Hine to be a huge secondary role player.

Mitch Mathews – I’ll piggyback a little bit here.  I’m not so sold on Ridley.  He had one good game at the start of last season and we all fell in love.  But he didn’t do much the rest of the season.  I think Mathews is primed to be that third target this season in the receiver rotation and I’m excited to see what he can do.

Mike: Tight end Richard Wilson is my most intriguing dark horse.  He was heavily recruited by LSU, Stanford, Miami and Tennessee.  Wilson had a 15 yd. TD in last week’s final practice and as a senior should be able to add a significant weapon if he can win playing time.  Taysom Hill has the receivers and running game to be successful.  Adding a talented senior tight end with great hands could make a difference.

Scott:  I’m excited for Adam Hine. Let’s face it, the offense is what we’re all concerned about for 2013, and Hine appears to be back to “The Legend of Adam Hine” form. With the way RBs will be used in Anae’s offense (regularly use three to keep fresh in the “Go Fast, Go Hard” offense), it is exciting to have that speed to go along with Mike Alisa and Jamaal Williams. I’m expecting big things from that unit in the fall.

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Mercer Bears – NIT Round 2

mercer LOGO

Who is Mercer?

Well, they play in the Atlantic Sun Conference that is comprised mainly of schools in theA Sun Logo South Carolina to Florida region of the country.  The Bears finished first in the regular season with a 23-11 record, but lost in the conference tournament to current NCAA darling Florida Gulf Coast.  They are located in Macon, GA and play their home games at Hawkins Arena.

FGCU LogoI looked over their season and didn’t see much of note.  However, a few games did jump out to me.  They beat Florida State on the road 61-56 this season. Against Florida Gulf Coast they were 1-2 by a combined 248-209 with their lone victory coming early in the regular season at home.  And of course, they beat Tennessee on the road 75-67 on the shoulders of 25 points from senior guard Travis Smith in order to reach the second round of the NIT for the right to come to Provo.

Last season, they beat Utah State in Logan in the CIT giving them the championship.

Okay, but what do they bring to the game and what should Cougar fans be watching for tonight?  The Bears aren’t a high-scoring team, in fact, they are methodical in their approach and scored fewer than 50 points 6 times this season, but they make up for their lack of a scoring punch by holding their opponents to just over 58 points per game.  Compare that with BYU who averages better than 18 PPG more than the Bears allow and this game could get interesting.  The Cougars on the season are allowing not quite 4 PPG more than Mercer is averaging.  Style and pace of play are going to go a long way in determining this game.

Here are some stats to chew on:

Mercer Team Stats

Statistic Per Game Average NCAA Rank



Opponent’s Points















Road Record







Travis Smith MercerIndividual Player’s Stats

Player Statistic Per Game Average
Travis Smith Points per game 13.8
Jakob Gallon Rebounds per game 5.0
Langston Hall Assists per game 5.0

Let me compare that first table of stats against BYU this season:

BYU Team Stats

Statistic Per Game Average NCAA Rank



Opponent’s Points















Home Record






Tyler Haws IIIAs you well know by now, BYU thrives when they can get out and run the ball.  Especially when at home against teams not accustomed to the altitude change (they lost their two altitude games by a combined score of 145-98.)  Both teams have been sitting for at least five days now so fatigue won’t be an issue but if BYU can get out and press the Bears early and often, it should pay dividends.  If Brandon Davies and Nate Austin can play smart and keep their hands in check, the Cougars will have a size advantage all game.  Don’t expect Tyler Haws to go for 37 again of Matt Carlino to rain 3s like he did in the second half against Washington, but you should expect the Cougars to run and press and push the ball up in transition often.

But just because the Cougars will press doesn’t mean it will be good.  It very well could get sloppy.  The Bears are stingy on defense holding opponents to about 39% shooting.  They help well and probably most importantly, they don’t have anything to lose at this point.  They run their offense at nearly 10 fewer possessions per game than does BYU and they play very well within the half-court.

The game will be at 7 pm in the Marriott Center and can be viewed on the ESPN network of channels.  The winner gets the winner of the Southern Miss-Louisiana Tech game for the right to go to Madison Square Garden.

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