Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.
Ardent BYU basketball supporters were hammered with a wicked one-two punch, as popular 14-year coach Dave Rose announced his retirement Tuesday and fan-favorite Yoeli Childs signaled his departure via Twitter on Wednesday.
Neither announcement came as a huge surprise.
Rumors began percolating the day after BYU lost 80-57 to San Diego in the West Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals that Rose had grown a bit disinterested, had lost some of his passion for the job, and some boosters who had Tom Holmoe’s ear were expressing their concern.
Rose confirmed that loss of zeal during a BYUtv interview Wednesday; Reporters who cover the team, such as this one, began noticing it early in the WCC season last January.
Losses that would normally burn Rose for days, such as the 88-66 drubbing at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 5, or the 82-63 embarrassment at San Francisco on Jan. 19, didn’t seem to tear him apart as much. When the Cougars blew that 14-point lead in the final eight minutes against USF in Provo on Feb. 21, a 77-71 loss that was one of the most damaging in the Rose era, the coach seemed detached in his postgame comments, almost resigned to the fact that his time was coming to an end.
As for Childs, anyone who paid attention last year when he almost left for professional basketball knew that it was inevitable this year.
So what’s next?
No matter who the next coach is — by all accounts, the job is former BYU assistant and current UVU coach Mark Pope’s, if he wants it — he has some rebuilding to do. The Cougars haven’t had a losing season since 2005, a 9-21 campaign that led to Steve Cleveland leaving for Fresno State.
A repeat of that rough year is a possibility.
Then again, perhaps newcomers such as Gonzaga transfer Jesse Wade, returned missionary Trevin Knell and high school recruits Bernardo Da Silva and Shengzhe Li will be able to come in and make an impact.
BYU women’s basketball flourishing
After attending media day for BYU women’s basketball last fall, reporters took a look at coach Jeff Judkins’ roster and wondered if the team would win a dozen games. Little did we know that freshman Shaylee Gonzales would be an 18-point scorer, that Sara Hamson would return from a knee injury to become a dominating defensive force inside, that sophomore Paisley Johnson would develop into a phenomenal all-around player, that Brenna Chase would get even better offensively or that softball star Caitlyn Alldredge would provide leadership and show the squad how to win close games.
The Cougars placed second in the WCC race, beat nationally ranked Gonzaga three times, won the WCC tournament going away, beat Auburn in an NCAA Tournament first-round game and gave No. 2 seed Stanford a good scare, at least for a half, on its home floor in a second-round game.
Quite a season for the BYU women.
Spring football nearing an end
The Cougars conducted an open spring scrimmage last Saturday at the old Provo High field, which they are now calling BYU West Campus, and will wrap up spring practices Thursday. Pro Day is Friday at the Indoor Practice Facility (IPF).
Coach Kalani Sitake said the Cougars stayed relatively healthy throughout the month, although offensive lineman Tristen Hoge went down in the spring scrimmage with a minor knee injury.
“He’s going to be OK,” Sitake said. “No surgery required. So of all the injuries we had, no one needs to have surgery. So that’s a positive. That’s what we pray for, so it is all good.”
Sitake said a few players will need MRIs to evaluate the extent of those injuries he referenced. It was a good week off the field, as the coach got commitments from several high school prospects, including Zach Wilson’s brother, Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson.
A lot of people noticed that spring scrimmage MVP Jaren Hall wasn’t shy about running with the football whenever the opportunity presented itself. There were even some designed runs, surprising since the QBs weren’t wearing those green jerseys that signify they are off-limits to contact. They were allowed to be tackled.
I asked passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick about it Monday. His reply:
“I have always liked running the quarterback. When I coached up the road [at Utah], we ran the quarterback a lot. I think it is a great equalizer for defenses. We don’t want to be foolish about it. I coach the quarterbacks. We talk every day about which situations in a game where you want to avoid hits, and which situations in a game it is acceptable to go get everything you can. We are constantly talking about that, but the quarterback run game is definitely going to be a part of what we do.”
• Maybe the BYU baseball team can continue its winning ways and take fans’ minds off the rotten news the men’s basketball program has delivered the past few days. Sophomore Mitch McIntyre and junior Abraham Valdez drove in two runs apiece in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Cougars (18-5, 4-2 WCC) came from behind to dump Oregon 7-3 on Tuesday night. It was the first time BYU has defeated Oregon (12-10) in baseball since 1979.
The Cougars host Saint Mary’s this weekend in a three-game series at Miller Park, with first pitches scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
• It is looking more and more like a rebuilding season for the BYU men’s volleyball team. The Cougars went 1-2 last week, defeating Princeton 3-2 on Thursday before falling 3-1 to McKendree on Friday and 3-0 to No. 2 Hawaii on Saturday. The Cougars (12-8, 6-3 MPSF) play at Concordia Thursday night and USC on Saturday night.
• BYU’s No. 42-ranked men’s tennis team hosts No. 24 San Diego at noon on Saturday in a key WCC match. BYU is 15-3 overall, 3-1 in conference matches this season.
• BYU’s softball team swept UVU in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon in Orem, taking 10-1 and 6-5 victories over the rival Wolverines. Libby Sugg went 5 for 7 and drove in four runs in the wins.
The Cougars now travel to Texas to play games against UTSA and Texas A&M on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.