When it comes to disciplinary matters and college football, Utah answers to the Pac-12 and Utah State answers to the Mountain West. To which governing body does independent BYU answer?
The suspension of receiver Skyler Ridley for the first half of Friday’s 37-20 win over Boise State showed that BYU answers to the Big 12, basically. But it is a bit more complicated than that.
The Big 12 officials belong to a group called College Football Officiating, LLC. The CFO is an entity created by the NCAA and College Commissioners Association (CCA) to oversee football officiating.
I asked BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday to explain how Ridley’s suspension came to be, and here’s how he laid it out:
Against Houston, Ridley peeled back on a play and blocked a Houston linebacker helmet-to-helmet who was in pursuit of the ball-carrier. Ridley wasn’t flagged for the hit during the game.
However, BYU has an agreement with the Big 12 to officiate games where the contract calls for BYU to choose, or assign, the officials. Every play in every such game is reviewed by the Big 12’s supervisor of officials.
That supervisor’s staff caught the block, which they decided was targeting and should have been flagged, and notified BYU on the Monday night before the Boise game that the supervisor was sending it on to the national supervisor of officials, Rogers Redding. Redding’s title is NCAA coordinator of officials.
Redding’s office notified BYU on Tuesday that Ridley should be suspended for the first half of Friday’s game, because the infraction came in the second half of the Houston game.
I asked Mendenhall if BYU had the right to appeal the suspension. He said he didn’t ask, because he watched the play and agreed with the decision.
"I saw the play and I thought it was targeting," Mendenhall said. Ridley "peeled back and he hit a guy really, really hard. And [it was] courageous. The guy saw him coming, but it was face to face, and the guy was a lot bigger than Skyler, so it was a courageous play, but with the rules now, it qualified for that. In my opinion, I still think 15 yards, during the game, is a severe enough penalty, just after going through it, but no appeal [from BYU] because it fit within what the rule says."
I posted video of Mendenhall’s 10-minute press briefing Monday, but if you didn’t have the time to watch the whole thing, here are some of the more interesting comments from the session …
"After the film and watching Boise State, a really good football game, offensively, defensively and we continue to gain momentum. I think our team is improving. I think they are more optimistic than ever. The bye week comes at a really good time to heal. Nice to get a few extra days, looking at Wisconsin. We are looking forward to a great game in Madison, on a big stage, in front of a lot of people. And I think our team is looking forward to it.
I like where the bye week has come, and I think it is setting up nicely for our stretch run in the next four games, but more importantly, our next game."
On handling the bye week and if he learned from the bye before the Utah week:
"Not much, because the previous eight years, I don’t think we have lost off a bye week. So I am just learning more about my team. And so my team, in week 3 is different than in week 8. So our bye week will look different. So really not so much from that bye week. It is just after eight weeks with these guys where we are."
On the offensive line and why Michael Yeck is only one who has started every game. Are other guys injured?
"Competition is a huge part of it. I would say some nicked up, but that’s not the primary reason. We are playing eight or nine a game, and I think they are actually getting better. So I liked the way they played against Boise. And currently with this tempo, with the number of plays and what it is taking, we don’t have five that could make it [the whole game]. It takes about nine for this year’s team."
On playing Wisconsin and Notre Dame in November:
"It was really what we were hoping for when we became independent. It is fun to have had Texas in our stadium. It was fun to have had Georgia Tech in our stadium. It is fun to have had Boise State in our stadium, it was fun to have had Utah in our stadium.
And now late in the year as an independent, that we get Wisconsin and Notre Dame, that is closer to what I anticipated in the beginning. It just takes time to get there."
On whether Wisconsin and Notre Dame are a chance to elevate the program nationally:
"The validation comes by playing well against the best teams on the biggest stages. Our whole schedule this year has been to increase visibility, exposure, but also I would say reputation from not only being a top 25 team, to more.
We are positioned pretty well to play well at Wisconsin. If we do that, then we will see who is next and we will just keep going. But it becomes intriguing about now."
On Junior College guys who have made impact:
"So Robertson Daniel, he might be, because of our lack of depth in the secondary, and at corner specifically going into the year, he might be one of the most valuable players on the team, in terms of impact. If any player goes down, who could have the biggest impact on our team? It might be him. So he has done a really nice job, not only in coverage, but tackling.
DeOndre [Wesley], we saw the challenges at offensive line, opposite Michael Yeck. Huge influence.
And recently now, not at the beginning, but recently Edward Fusi now that his conditioning, now that his academic issues, and his transfer status, etc. … In this last game he started to emerge as the player maybe we thought he was at the beginning."
On whether he knows which juco players will contribute when he signs them:
"Yeah, we do. And the evaluation criteria, and really the mechanism is quite different. We don’t have as much time with them as high school players, so usually there is more risk, especially when you have injuries like we did.
We did bring in a lot of o-linemen simply for numbers. And under that criteria, we were hopeful that at least half would be able to contribute. And that’s where we are for this year."
On the tight ends being more involved:
"Well, there is more and more focus going on Taysom [Hill] running it, and there’s more and more focus going outside, in terms of covering our receivers, so when that happens, the linebackers become the next target in terms of conflict. And that means our inside receivers.
And Brett Thompson took a ball to the eye and had a damaged retina, so he didn’t play. So the tight ends took that spot and made the most of it."
On whether this season feels similar to 2006 and 2007:
"Man, I don’t remember six and seven very much. The 11 win seasons? Yeah. Similar right now. Especially with good games to look forward to down the stretch. So the feeling on the team is similar. Different team, different criteria. But we are gaining momentum and I am optimistic."
On Kyle Van Noy’s play:
"Man, I don’t ever underestimate what Kyle can do. He’s drawing a lot of attention from opponents, I know that. A lot of protection slide to him, and he is being chipped a lot, and he’s playing a lot of plays, but he is really good. So any accolades that he gets, he deserves."
On Uani Unga:
"Uani Unga is a really good player. He’s one of the best players on our defense this year. Another player, in addition to him, is Alani Fua. Those two have done a really nice job this season. Probably neither one had received much attention going in. So if you were to say right now, who are two of the best players defensively? Those two are doing a nice job."
On the concussions and whether more than usual:
"Man, I don’t [recall more any other year]. And just after watching Daniel [Sorensen] on the sideline, it is scary. So players that run really fast, and are big and are strong, I think that is part of what is happening. And possibly why the rules in terms of targeting, etc., can’t be argued for in terms of players’ safety. I think it is just a unique situation to be in. We are trying to educate our guys the best we can, and I think the equipment people and everyone else are trying to do their best, and officials are trying to do the best they can to manage it. I don’t think we have all the solutions yet, but we are probably making some progress."
On whether the Sorensen concussion scarier than Jamaal Williams’ injury:
"Those two would be similar. Just the lack of reaction of those players, when they are on the field, man, you just hope they wake up. And then when they do wake up, that they can move. So I was worried for all my guys, but those two were just a little more severe."
On personal experience with concussions:
"I wasn’t good enough to hit anybody hard, or etc. I was mostly watching."
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