Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) KSL's Dave McCann, left, interviews BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall on a live TV program on the state of the BYU football program for 2014 Monday June 23.
Kragthorpe: BYU needs to make statement vs. Texas

College football » In quest to join Big 12, best thing Cougs can do is start beating their teams

By kurt kragthorpe

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Jun 23 2014 02:17 pm • Last Updated Jun 23 2014 10:40 pm

Provo

Coach Bronco Mendenhall already succeeded in creating one headline about BYU football that resonated beyond Austin, Texas.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Here’s another newsmaking suggestion: The Cougars really should consider beating Texas in September.

If anything crystallized Monday during BYU’s annual Football Media Day, it is how much that Sept. 6 game in Austin means to the Cougars. It’s not as if Texas and other Big 12 schools would be so impressed that they immediately would vote to expand the conference, but that’s certainly a good place for BYU to build the credibility that any such invitation eventually would require.

Mendenhall is trying to sell BYU’s past, present and future — all at the same time, which is tricky. There’s some inevitable contradiction between Mendenhall’s saying "independence is a great place to launch from" in one breath and "it doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with independence" in the next expression. What’s clear is that all BYU can do right now to position itself for inclusion in college football’s power structure is to win a bunch of elite-level games.

The Cougars did so in Provo last season when they knocked off Texas, only to backtrack by losing at Wisconsin and Notre Dame. In 2014, Texas is the biggest brand name on BYU’s schedule. If the Longhorns will "have that game circled, for sure," as BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said, so will his own team, for different reasons.

"We all know what has to happen there," Mendenhall said.

The Cougars have to make a statement, in other words.

Mendenhall recently said as much as he could to boost his program’s Big 12 stock, telling an Austin newspaper that BYU "would love" to join the conference — and all he accomplished was getting some administrators to respond that the 10-school league is not interested in sharing any wealth via expansion.

About the only way that status could change is if the Big 12 goes a few years without being included in the four-team College Football Playoff, with the selection committee determining that the league’s lack of a conference championship game weakens the winner’s credentials.


story continues below
story continues below

But from Mendenhall’s perspective, there’s no harm in getting BYU’s name out there, and he did so in a way that was partly impulsive and partly calculated. "I thought someone needed to say it," he explained Monday.

So he steered a routine interview for one of a series of summer stories about Texas’ opponents into his own campaign for Big 12 membership. Holmoe, himself a former football coach, attributed the ploy strictly to Mendenhall. "The emotions of a coach run a little bit high," Holmoe said, smiling.

Yet even if Mendenhall’s comments were not part of any departmental strategy, Holmoe shares his viewpoint. The Cougars may like where they are, compared to their former Mountain West existence, but they want to go places.

Such a quest is further beyond their own influence than they would like to believe. But winning big-time football games and building their brand is something they can control.

Yeah, they already beat Texas in 2013. But that achievement was easily dismissed as a case of the Longhorns’ own doing. After allowing 259 rushing yards to BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, Texas fired its defensive coordinator the next day. Texas coach Mack Brown later retired, launching a series of staffing moves around the country. ESPN.com calculated that Brown’s move ultimately affected 103 coaching positions around the country (including an opening at Utah, filled by receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield).

BYU played its part in creating that upheaval with a 40-21 victory. A repeat performance may not cause as much havoc in the college football landscape. But it’s the only kind of statement that would do the Cougars any good.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.