Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.
Nothing like some relatively insignificant football scheduling news in February to rekindle the cries of those who think BYU football should return to a conference.
In case you missed it, the website fbschedules.com did some sleuthing recently and acquired Dixie State University’s contracts for upcoming football games through a government open records request. The St. George school is moving its football program from NCAA Division II status up to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), which is the division local schools Southern Utah and Weber State are in.
Not surprisingly, one of those DSU contracts is with BYU. The Cougars will pay Dixie State $425,000 to play at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 12, 2022, according to one of the contracts obtained by FBS.
And no sooner had I tweeted out the link to the Future Football Schedules announcement than the “independence isn’t working” crowd got worked up about it.
Forget the fact that BYU also plays Utah, Baylor, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State and Stanford in 2022 — Baylor and Arkansas at home — the Cougars shouldn’t be playing an FCS school, they said, perhaps forgetting that a lot of FBS schools play at least one FCS school a year, including Utah.
When BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe met with reporters last month, shortly after DSU’s announcement, he acknowledged that he was already in discussions with Dixie State officials about a possible game.
“It would be nice to play them,” he said. “I will take a look at it and maybe make it happen.”
And so he has.
And what about Weber State and Southern Utah? Will the Cougars be playing those FCS schools again anytime soon?
“Yeah, I think it is a good question,” Holmoe said. Weber State athletic director “Jerry Bovee and I are good friends. He’s one of my closest friends in the business. We have played them once. I don’t have anything against playing them. We try to play the local teams. We played Idaho State. Idaho State actually made it very easy for us to play them, which I appreciate. They have saved us a couple of times, and moved a couple of games, and in response we have given them extra games. They have been a benefit to us, and that is just great business."
I appreciate that they’ve bailed us out a couple times, and I will scratch their back a little bit for that. We have played Southern Utah. We have played Weber. We will play teams locally and regionally, especially in the state, when we can, if we can, when it makes sense."
Are you ready for some (spring) football?
Spring practice opens March 4 in Provo, and we’re already starting to look ahead to what the 2019 team will look like with this analysis of why the Cougars need to sign a workhorse running back or two. Of course, the players will get their first look at new offensive line coach Eric Mateos and coaches will give plenty of reps to backup quarterbacks as sophomore phenom Zach Wilson abstains from throwing due to offseason shoulder surgery.
One of those backups, redshirt freshman Jaren Hall, will compete for the spot while also playing on the Cougars’ baseball team this spring.
Huge game Thursday night
After coach Dave Rose’s BYU basketball team faltered in late January with that 93-63 loss to No. 4 Gonzaga, the Cougars have reeled off five straight wins, making each new game even more important as they close in on a possible No. 2 seed for March’s WCC tournament.
Thursday night’s contest at the Marriott Center against third-place San Francisco fits that description, and Rose deserves credit for engineering the turnaround.
The Cougars are coming off an impressive two-game road sweep of San Diego and Loyola Marymount, recording a pair of come-from-behind victories.
They trailed San Diego by as many as 14 points in both halves before pulling out the win, but apparently didn’t learn their lesson from that because they got behind by double-digits two days later before overcoming LMU.
Dick Harmon of the Deseret News also had some praise for Rose, and the way he has figured out ways to get the season back on track. Darnell Dickson of the Provo Daily Herald has noticed that star forward Yoeli Childs delivers night after night, against all kinds of defensive tactics.
Rose has lamented several times this season that his team has been prone to panic when it falls behind, especially on the road. But that problem was seemingly solved in Southern California last week:
“I like the way the team feels,” Rose said. “Even when we come into the huddles during the timeouts when we are behind, the guys are determined. They have got an attitude to where we are not defeated, that we can make this happen, we can overcome, and we finished the two road games off really well, with great execution on both ends of the floor.”
• Last week was also a big week for BYU’s women’s basketball team, which knocked off No. 13 Gonzaga in Spokane. The Cougars swept the WCC player of the week honors, as TJ Haws claimed the honor on the men’s side and Brenna Chase got it on the women’s side. The BYU women have just one game this week, hosting San Diego on Saturday.
• BYU’s softball team is playing in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in San Diego Thursday through Saturday, attending the tournament for the 11th straight season. The Cougars open against Nebraska on Thursday, followed by Missouri.
The Cougars walloped UTEP 19-4 and Fordham 11-3 last Saturday in Las Vegas.
• BYU’s revitalized baseball team is in Corpus Christi, Texas, this week for the Kleberg Bank College Classic. The Cougars will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-3) on Thursday before facing Ohio State (4-0) on Friday. They are also scheduled to play Oral Roberts (3-0) at the tournament, on Saturday.