There’s a term, an acronym, in the sales game that’s referred to as “FUD.” It stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt. That’s what companies throw at, what they try to create in, potential customers when competing against rival companies for the sale.
Businesses, those who represent them, have been slinging FUD for decades. If a salesperson can get a potential buyer to somehow believe that they’re going to get screwed over by the competition, the FUD chucker’s got a better chance of winning the deal.
That’s what happened to BYU basketball recently, as it lost a talented transfer by the name of Ques Glover, and it’s bound to happen to the Cougars again and again if changes aren’t made, if solutions aren’t found.
Here’s the background.
BYU coach Mark Pope recently complained that with the loss of Glover, who transferred to Kansas State out of BYU, that he — read: the school and its boosters — needs to do better providing and guaranteeing NIL benefits for prospective players, the kinds of players BYU has to reel in to be competitive in the Big 12, the country’s top basketball conference.
That much is all true. It’s just the way it is in major college sports these days. If programs want to win, they — their collectives — better eagerly jump not just into the pool, but into its deepest end. Bring cash and bring a lot of it.
“I’m super sad about it,” Pope said. “I’ve got to do a better job. … It’s all NIL.”
When K-State coach Jerome Tang was asked about Pope’s comments regarding Glover, he checked off a list of fantastic qualities possessed by his new guard, everything from being a “great competitor” to a “two-to-one-assist-to-turnover guy” to “a terrific human being [with] a great smile, very engaging, great eye contact.”
And then, Tang congratulated himself while hurling the FUD at BYU, a new league opponent, one he could find himself recruiting against in the years ahead.
“I believe Coach Pope was sending more of a message to his alumni about the NIL thing,” he said. “… To correct this thing, [Ques’] family and him decided to leave because of a lack of trust, not a lack of NIL. These guys, these young men, are promised things going in and when they get there, when it’s not delivered, they don’t see the ability … if there’s a lack of trust in one area, it spreads to all areas. OK. And so it wasn’t an NIL movement, it was a trust movement. He didn’t feel like they could do what they said they were going to do. And I think Coach Pope would be willing to agree with that.”
FUD here, FUD there, FUD everywhere.
All of which is to say, yes, it was about NIL money, but also about something even more fundamental, something of greater significance — faith in a place’s character.
Pope thought BYU, or rather its collective, could provide finances and opportunity to Glover. And when it came time to do exactly that, to put the proper amounts in writing, there was a problem. When Kansas State, its boosters, could guarantee the right amount, then, suddenly, the kid with the great eye contact was looking at — and headed to — Manhattan, not Provo.
Welcome to the Big 12. That’s the way it’s done downtown.
Tang hit that target hard.
Hey, all you terrific human beings with the great smiles, as well as the great speed, the great jump shots and assist-to-turnover ratios, we’ll put our NIL money in writing, and those guys over there either won’t or — who knows? — might not. Let that be a lesson to all y’all.
The declaration there is two-fold: 1) that the tried-and-untrue way of recruiting, making promises to kids and not following through on them — Remember the good ol’ days when a coach could lie, could assure players that they would get this and that privilege on and off the court, lure them in, sign them, and then betray what was said once a kid’s services were secured? — no longer will work, not with the freedom to transfer that exists now; and 2) collectives had best be willing and able to post the right financial number and guarantee that number on the front end.
What happened in the Glover case, and others like it, is not all Pope’s fault. It is and it isn’t. He has to get NIL awards coming from BYU boosters. It is whispered by those in and around BYU that its collective generally won’t put their deals in writing. Not just that, but there’s also what amounts to a somewhat rigid pay scale, a pay scale with lines that will have to be blurred at times to grab better talent.
Here’s the most obvious of conclusions: The only way BYU can compete in the Big 12 is to better and deepen its supply of talent. The only way it can increase that talent is to pay for it, to guarantee the payout. Just the fact, Jack. Pay for enough of it to make the Cougars’ basketball situation look like a place where winning can and will happen.
Depending solely on athletes’ determined desires to go to a scrubbed-clean school where they can get religion, get a degree while comfortably drinking milkshakes and chowing down cookies at the Cougar Eat and take Book of Mormon classes is going to get BYU beat and beat badly.
Boosters will have to come through for basketball — and football, too — and there are a number of deep-pocketed types who care about BYU sports. But specific to hoops, Pope also will have to come through, selling the truth, whatever it is, as he scribbles plays, whatever they are.
Tang’s use of the word “trust” cuts straight to the bone at BYU, where there are and have been bits of distrust, not just regarding what’s presented to prospects, but discord within the basketball program. There’s talk that some players want to leave — to be fair, that’s hardly unique to the Cougars — and that Pope is ambitious, keeping his head on a swivel, looking for other suitors — again, not unique. Whether that’s 100% true or not, what’s most damaging in recent seasons is the Cougars’ inability to win enough games, not enough even in an inferior league.
The program, as currently constituted, isn’t lousy, it’s just not stellar, far from it. And that humdrum state is about to be exposed further.
The school has squeezed more donations in recent months out of Cougar fans who, if they’ve wanted a decent seat at the Marriott Center, have been required to fork over more cash. Heading into this inaugural Big 12 season, BYU followers, apparently, want to see the best basketball the college game has to offer. The problem is, the BYU side won’t be providing it. You have to wonder, under those circumstances, how long folks will continue to be willing to shell out more money.
BYU basketball, which already is challenged in recruiting by the school’s peculiarities, is in trouble if boosters don’t come to the rescue with their wallets. In that last regard, it’s not alone.
If the Cougars do conjure the resources, if they do get the talent, if they pay the talent, guarantee to pay the talent, reconfiguring their top end so boosters and fans alike can dream about winning and winning big, even if it’s just every once in a while, all right then.
A program doesn’t have to have a mastermind of a coach to do that. It just has to have a coach who has the willingness and ability and financial backing to actually give what he needs to give, give what he says he’ll give to players in recruiting and in the portal.
He has to do away with the FUD.