Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.
Just when most BYU fans had given up on the idea of seeing their Cougars play Notre Dame again, Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick offered some Wednesday in an interview with Pete Sampson of The Athletic.
“We absolutely will be playing BYU again and look forward to having more detail about that in the future,” Swarbrick said while replying to a scheduling question.
Will that game be played in LaVell Edwards Stadium?
That’s doubtful, even though the Irish technically owe BYU at least one game in Provo.
Rather, it sounds like the game will be played at the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open in 2020.
“We look forward to having more detail about that in the near future,” Swarbrick told The Athletic when he was asked if the game could be played in Sin City.
BYU and Notre Dame announced a six-game series when BYU said it was going independent in football in 2010, but that was trimmed to three games when Notre Dame entered into a scheduling agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The first two games of the series were played in 2012 and 2013 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
In January, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was asked about the game the Irish owe BYU and said there was nothing new to report. When he was pressed on whether BYU could fill Notre Dame’s interest in adding a 13th game as an additional data point for the College Football Playoff selection process, Holmoe said it is highly unlikely.
“They wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I have heard that suggestion. It goes back to Notre Dame being Notre Dame. They stand alone. As much as they might not be the top of the hill right now, that brand in college football history is No. 1. Maybe not right now, but the residual will last for a long time. I respect that. I can’t force an issue with that. They have a lot of strength. But we have a lot of contracts and we will do the best we can to come up with a good resolution.”
The tiny bit of Notre Dame scheduling news comes during a week when BYU’s independence is again in the national discussion because UConn announced it was leaving the American Athletic Conference for the Big East, thereby leaving the AAC with a potential opening.
BYU quickly emerged as a candidate to fill that opening, if the other 11 football-playing schools in the league believe they need to fill it.
I went over the pros and cons for BYU in an article Wednesday.
The week’s other big news regarding BYU football was not good, as The Salt Lake Tribune first reported last Thursday that Cougars junior receiver Neil Pau’u had been arrested on suspicion of DUI and then subsequently charged with that and another misdemeanor for running through and over traffic barricades near the Smith Fieldhouse on campus.
Pau’u’s expected absence — BYU had not announced Pau’u’s status with the team a week after the news broke — leaves the Cougars awfully thin at receiver.
There were other BYU football-related articles as well, including my piece on what college football coaches — including BYU’s Kalani Sitake and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham — do in the summer, and how Sitake hopes BYU defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga plays so well this year that he leaves early for the NFL.
My colleague Kurt Kragthorpe detailed how important the Utah Championship this week on the newly named Korn Ferry Tour is for former BYU golfer Daniel Summerhays.
• Deseret News columnist Brad Rock weighed in on the BYU football independence debate and whether the Cougars should think about joining the American Athletic Conference.
• Here’s another recap of BYU Football Media Day from the Deseret News, with plenty of comments from the Cougars about last year’s loss to the Utes, and this year’s season opener.
• BYU’s secondary lost a key player recently when cornerback Trevion Green entered the transfer portal, but the Provo Daily Herald still predicts big things for the unit this season.
• The Daily Herald also detailed how BYU’s tight ends hope to have a big impact this season.
• Another former BYU golfer, Zac Blair, will also play in the Utah Championship this weekend with a lot on the line, the Deseret News reported.
A lot has been written and said about the two new graduate transfer running backs the Cougars landed recently, South Carolina’s Ty’Son Williams and Rice’s Emmanuel Esukpa. Here’s offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes on what they bring to the table:
“I hope a lot,” Grimes said. “When you recruit a player who is in the latter part of his career, whether that is a junior college player, or a grad transfer, you are looking for someone to come in and give you an immediate boost. I guess you could liken it to a professional sports team that signs a guy who is towards the end of his career, but has a good year or two left in him. That’s kind of what you are doing there. We felt like we needed some help there. The fact that we lost some players last year to graduation, and one [Riley Burt] to a transfer, made it important. We certainly needed numbers there, and we wanted to find the best players that we could find, and didn’t have a lot of natural fits at the high school level that worked for us in the last signing class.
So, because of those two things, we felt like we needed to go out and find a grad transfer. It just happened that there were two that we felt like fit us. And they felt like we fit them."
So yeah, we are hoping they will have a big impact. But we have got some other guys that they will have to compete against for playing time and reps and that sort of thing as well. So I am looking for better production at the running back position overall.”
• BYU’s men’s tennis team has announced the signing of two international players. Coach Brad Pearce has inked Matheus Leite of Brazil and Jack Barnett of Australia. Leite is from Sao Paulo and was ranked No. 1 in Brazil’s under-18 rankings in 2016. He played the last two seasons at Texas Tech University.
Barnett is from Noosa, Australia, and recently completed a successful career at Sanchez Casal Tennis Academy. He was Australia’s Silver Men’s Open Finalist and the Australian Gold Under-18 champion.
• BYU junior middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen is the first Academic All-American in the history of the BYU men’s volleyball program. Jauhiainen, from Finland, is a Google Cloud Third-Team All-American. Jauhiainen led BYU with 94 total blocks last season, and carries a 4.0 GPA in computer science.
• BYU junior golfer Peter Kuest was named to the Division I PING All-America Second Team recently. Junior Rhett Rasmussen earned honorable mention accolades. Kuest was the WCC Player of the Year and won five tournaments during the season. Rasmussen won the NCAA Pullman Regional and had to other top-five finishes in 2018-19 season.