Frustration. Aggravation. Dissatisfaction.
There’s plenty of that inside BYU football and all around it.
But there also are hasty ruminations stirring and murmurings rising in certain corners that are straight stupid and should be delayed, if not muffled, before they get too prevalent, too loud.
That’s what happens when a team for which there was a whole lot of promise and expectation loses four of its first five games, and all four of those losses come consecutively. And not only consecutively, but in a manner that made the Cougars look discombobulated and inept, especially on offense, the side of the ball upon which BYU built its brand and gained its fans.
It’s clear that even though BYU was likely to lose to some of the teams on its early schedule, the Cougars and their backers did not expect to have a listless, mistake-prone attack and/or a loss to Utah State, a defeat in which BYU turned over the ball seven times.
More bad news: The Cougars very well could lose their next two games, as well. They are underdogs at home Friday night against Boise State, then they go to Starkville to play Mississippi State.
To say BYU has not played well is to say water is wet.
All of that is acknowledged and noted.
But anybody who is clamoring for Ty Detmer’s job — or Kalani Sitake’s — is lost in a deep, thick, blinding fog.
There’s no straw in this man’s argument.
It might not be everybody, but it is more than anecdotal. There really are folks disturbed enough by what’s taken place this season to not only conjure concern, criticism and complaining, but also to call for getting rid of Detmer, in particular.
He is just a high school football coach now thrashing around at an elevated level beyond his understanding, they say.
He should have gotten more experience elsewhere or as a quarterback coach before being handed the wheel to an offense like BYU’s, they say.
He doesn’t care enough to study, prepare, game-plan, adjust, motivate, coach, coordinate sufficiently to recognize what’s broken and how to fix it, they say.
Heisman, schmeisman, they say.
They are wrong, I say.
It’s far too early for such nonsense.
Ty Detmer has forgotten more about football than most people, even accomplished football vets, ever knew. He grasps what’s going on. He understands the game. He knows the personnel he has and the schemes he’s trying to run.
He’s not perfect, and he might be a bit stubborn and inexperienced in his specific role. He may be too conservative, refusing to open up the offense in a way that benefitted him so much as a quarterback back in the day.
But the Cougars aren’t struggling on offense because Detmer is an idiot. He didn’t forget everything he learned as a player in the NFL for 13 seasons, back when he was signed to teams as much to tutor already enlightened coaches and quarterbacks as to throw the football himself. He hasn’t had some sort of memory fail from what he accomplished a year ago, when BYU, in his and Sitake’s first season, won nine of 13 games.
He’ll likely get things back together, and if he cannot, it’s premature to make that judgment at this point.
Detmer’s a grown man, he also knew what he was stepping into when he took BYU’s OC job, offered to him by Sitake shortly after the coach was hired in late December 2015. He joked at that time about the pressure, the passion, the insanity, the avalanche that was sure to come, sooner or later.
It came sooner.
Same with Sitake. He did not anticipate a 1-4 start to his sophomore year as coach, leading to so much disappointment and chatter. He thought both his offense and defense would be better than what they’ve been thus far. A phone conversation he had with his wife in a stadium elevator an hour or so after a recent loss revealed his exasperation. But there’s no pressure coming from anyone on the outside that burdens him more than the pressure he feels from within.
Judging a coach and a coordinator too quickly is a mistake.
As evidence, go back and look at Kyle Whittingham’s early sporadic difficulties as a head coach and the not-so-long-ago back-to-back 5-7 seasons he suffered before regaining proper control of Utah’s program. The overall job he’s done for the Utes is appreciated much more now than it once was. A lot of us were guilty of laying it on too heavy too soon with him.
BYU football is down right now. And it’s troubling and embarrassing for coaches, players and fans.
It doesn’t mean it never will get put back together again. Yeah, the Honor Code is an issue, independence is an issue, scheduling is an issue, the search for spread-out, sought-after LDS talent is an issue. But a lot of those things have existed in previous successful seasons. When the Cougars played in the old WAC and the Mountain West, those situations and circumstances provided no advantages for them that independence automatically blocks out now.
Sitake gets BYU — the challenges and the benefits that come with playing and coaching there. He’s about as qualified as anyone who would want the job to rediscover some degree of that success. Think about the enthusiasm and energy swept into the program last season, energy and enthusiasm that he was responsible for bringing. A temporary dip isn’t the end of BYU’s world.
The schedules, as provided, are tough. But remember that the Cougars beat a team from the Pac-12, a team from the SEC and a team from the Big Ten just last season. It’s not as though the program and its players are some kind of sad-sack joke, a lost cause, even though insecure trash talkers may say as much.
To what level they will win moving forward and how soon, nobody knows. But people tempted to call for Detmer’s — and even Sitake’s — jobs are barreling to conclusions in too much of a hurry. Complain away, criticize. That’s what folks who care about college football teams do. But patience during a down season is sometimes called for.
This is one of those times.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.