Asked if he would like to be considered for BYU’s open offensive coordinator job, Cougars legend Robbie Bosco hesitated for the length of time it takes a lightning bolt to crackle out of the sky and hit the ground.
“No,” he said.
The way he said it made you think such a challenge would rank on his to-do list somewhere between swimming naked across the piranha-infested Amazon at feeding time and disemboweling himself. Thanks, but … uh, no.
The only quarterback at BYU to win a national championship — Bosco went 24-3 in his two years as a starter, twice finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting — didn’t want the headache, didn’t want any part of the headache. He had coached QBs in the program for more than a decade, had put together offensive game plans back when BYU football meant and accomplished a little more than it does now.
“Calling plays is tough,” he said, in addition to all the other demands on an OC. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Doesn’t Ty Detmer know it.
It’s a lot tougher in Provo now than it once was.
Still, Bosco is convinced BYU can stop the ineptitude that slapped it with such force in 2017, which turned out to be one of the worst seasons of offensive football in the school’s history. The side of the ball upon which BYU built its brand was flat abysmal. The Cougars threw for just 2,530 yards. In Bosco’s two seasons, in 1984 and ’85, he aired the ball out for 8,148 yards. He threw for 66 touchdown passes. This season, against stronger competition, BYU had a mere 13 TD throws. Bosco threw for 585 yards — in one game.
Bosco said he was shocked at the demise of the Cougars’ attack under Detmer, one of the few quarterbacks at BYU who outperformed him as a player. Bosco said he joked with Detmer, two years ago when Ty was hired to run the offense, about the demands and pressures that come with that job.
“We laughed about it,” he said.
Nobody’s laughing now.
“It’s crazy,” he added.
Bosco said it’s important for BYU to hire a replacement right away. According to one source, the Cougars already have offered the job to a candidate and are awaiting word.
“Recruiting is a big part of that,” said Bosco. “You’ve got to kind of hop on it and get a coordinator. If you want to bring in key quarterbacks or receivers or what have you, those players want to know who it’s going to be to see if he fits their style.”
Once recruiting is done, spring ball follows shortly thereafter, a significant period this time around for the Cougars as they attempt to install a new offense.
“I like the spread offense,” Bosco said. “There’s a lot you can do with that. If a quarterback can run, you can spread everything out and throw the ball or spread them out with zone reads.”
Whoever accepts the job, whatever offense he runs, Bosco said there are a plethora of issues that have contributed to BYU’s fall, all of which must be systematically addressed: “I can’t look at just one player or one group of players or one side of the ball. … Kalani’s trying to fix a lot of things. As a coaching staff, you’ve got to dive in there, get your hands dirty and fix the problems.”
Those problems include a need for improved talent, more discipline among players, and a better matching by coaches of schemes with whatever talent is available. Increased conditioning — which current players say has already been required — also is being emphasized.
Like a lot of other people, Bosco was baffled by Tanner Mangum’s ineffectiveness before he was injured this past season: “It looked like he struggled with the offense. I’ve watched Tanner throw. He’s got a lot of tools. He’s got a really good arm.”
When Bosco recently met with Mangum, he gave him the same advice he gives most quarterbacks: “Get better in the film room.”
He said once a quarterback understands all the moving parts on the field, both his own offense and what defenses are trying to do to stop it, everything gets smoother, allowing a QB to show off all the physical abilities he possesses.
“The game becomes quite easy once you figure that out,” he said.
He also said he has no clue who the starter will be next season, in part because that decision is subject to the preferences and biases of new offensive coaches.
Whoever it is, Bosco said BYU’s coaches had best address the deeper fractures in the program, especially on, but not limited to, the offensive side. A talented, knowledgable quarterback is not enough to collect and repair engine parts that were blown all over the road in 2017.
“Everybody watches the quarterback,” Bosco said. “But there’s a lot of facets to the game. It takes all 11 guys to be great. If 11 can be great, the team will be great. You can score a lot of points, but there’s so many little things that go into the offense. If just one guy is off a little bit, it can create problems.
“Those problems are all fixable. … I feel confident this thing can be turned around and get put back on track.”
He just doesn’t want to be the one to do it.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.