Fallout from BYU Utah Game

Fallout from BYU Utah Game


Where to begin after that 54-10 debacle on Saturday night? 

Rarely will a team win a football game when committing 7 turnovers. BYU totally imploded. However, Utah made them pay and stuck it to them. Utah looked like a far superior and much better coached team than BYU.

The really ugly part of the evening was when BYU just rolled over and quit as the second half progressed. That is inexcusable. That’s one of harshest things you can say about an athlete or a team but we all saw it. And the blame belongs squarely on the head coach. Sure, the offense stinks, the coordinator is in over his head and the highly touted quarterback is not getting it done. However, the buck stops with Bronco. In his defense, he did accept full responsibility for the humiliating defeat in the post game press conference. 

Thing is, it still happened and here’s why I agree with Bronco that he is indeed to blame:

Referring to the rivalry game early last week and how the community gets into the game he said the following: “All the rest of it, in terms of how my neighbors and anyone else react to it, I could do without……….I would just like it to be a first-class rivalry. The games certainly indicate that, that they’re going to be down to the last play and they’re going to be very competitive. I don’t know how it will affect all the surrounding fans and the stadium conduct.”

“Really, the rivalry isn’t really so much noticeable to me when you play the game………..It’s all the things in the community leading up to it. I haven’t been out in the community enough yet this week to grasp it yet.”

Of course the head coach isn’t running up to Salt Lake to paint the U on the hill blue or anything like that but these quotes give us an idea of how Bronco really feels. It’s just another ball game. Sure it’s probably a nuisance to a coaching staff to put up with overzealous fans. However, I think Bronco is missing the big picture. His job exists because of the fanatics. The BYU Utah game is practically a state holiday in Utah. This game means everything in terms of bragging rights, recruiting, positive momentum for the rest of the season, etc. BYU fans deserve much better than the pathetic performance they witnessed on Saturday night.

We all know that perception is reality and the perception is that Bronco just wants to coach his guys, hope they execute, host a couple firesides and represent the University. That’s all great except for the fact that 63,000 fans plus the tens of thousands of others around the United States don’t care about those things. They care about the entertainment value of college football and winning. For the fans, they don’t want to hear about execution. They want to see 40 points on the board because that’s what Lavell and Norm Chow treated them to for so many years. (They want to see Jimmer knock down 35 footers) Cougar fans want to see a winning team, one that shows some pride. Fans show up or watch on TV to be entertained and to be able to talk smack on their co-workers when they go back to work on Monday, or better yet – talk smack at church the day after a big win. College football is this multi-million dollar business because of the fans and their passion.

How often do you see a new hire at a big time school and the first thing out of their mouth is something about winning the rivalry game? Remember when Steve Spurrier was at Florida and he quipped the famous, “You can’t spell Citrus without UT” referring to one of their biggest rivals, the University of Tennessee, routinely finishing the SEC season second fiddle to Florida and ending up in a bowl game like the Citrus instead of a top tier game. Fans ate that up and loved Spurrier. And he just fanned the flames. How about when Urban Meyer got to Salt Lake City and would only refer to BYU as the “Team Down South.” Ute fans loved it and it just stirred up the rivalry even more. You just don’t ever get this kind of stuff from Bronco Mendenhall. More over, not only does he not get it or buy into it, he seems to preach the exact opposite to his team. How many times have we heard him say things like, “it’s just about execution” or “football is #5 on the priority list at BYU.” The guy acts like he basically hates the fandom and passion that goes along with it. And then when you see a total lack of fire from his team like we did on Saturday night, you can only start to wonder.

There are no guarantees that 63,00 fans will continue to show up for a mediocre product. Again, college sports is about entertainment. And if your product does not deliver, fan interest is going to wane. Based on what the school seems to be trying to accomplish with their football program, they sure seem to have the wrong personality in charge. Maybe BYU ought to get a fella like the Clemson head coach. Check out his act after snapping Auburn‘s 17 game winning streak on Saturday:

Of course Bronco is not going anywhere. He’s won way too many games. He is a good coach. He simply chooses not to embrace the fans and for whatever reason, does not seem to get his team up for big games. (TCU the past 3 years in addition to Saturday night)

That said, the Cougars should still be able to win 8 games this year with the easy schedule they have going forward. Hopefully Brandon Doman will find his way up to the box where he belongs and help the team start scoring some points. Jake Heaps is only going to improve.

However, let the fans be fans and stop humiliating the program on national TV against your arch rival. Until the intensity and expectations are both revved up a bit in Provo, don’t expect any greatness out of what has been a great football school with a great fan base.

Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


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