Reality Setting in for BYU and WCC Schedule

Reality Setting in for BYU and WCC Schedule


Anyone remember this shot? Of course you do. It’s the shot that put Jimmer and the Cougars on the map last year. ESPN picked it up and must have run it 50 times that night on SportsCenter. Jimmer was a pre-season Player of the Year candidate already and most experts knew BYU would be good. However, this shot really catapulted BYU and Jimmer into the spotlight.

The important issue is remembering when this half courter went down. I’ll remind you. One year ago today – January 11th, 2011. Football season was officially over and everyone had turned their attention to college hoops. It was time for a good college hoops story to follow.

BYU was willing and able to provide that excitement. They capitalized on the momentum of Jimmer’s shot and ran with it. How? After that big shot, BYU went on to play the following teams:

  • Highly ranked San Diego State home and away
  • New Mexico at the Pit and at home
  • Utah in Provo
  • UNLV in Provo
  • Then BYU locked horns with 2 of those 4 again in March in the Mountain West Conference tournament

Though the MWC was not the ACC, it had always been a respectable conference with those 4 or 5 teams. All had large arenas and were drawing huge crowds, especially last year. Utah was of course the exception last year but it was still a rivalry game. No, the games weren’t on ESPN but the games and their outcomes mattered nationally. And the above mentioned games delivered in terms of entertainment value.

Now why do I bring this up. BYU isn’t as good this year. We all knew they wouldn’t be. Try as we may, Jimmer’s not coming back to BYU. What’s the matter?

The matter is BYU’s remaining schedule in the West Coast Conference. BYU has already played Saint Mary’s on the road which was a fast paced, entertaining game televised on ESPN. However, it took place during the Holidays and the middle of football bowl season, and was therefore lost in the mix. (that and the fact that BYU was run off the court by Saint Mary’s) This year’s January/February slate contains only 3 more games worth getting excited about:

  • Saint Mary’s in Provo
  • Gonzaga home and away

And no, going on the road to play Virginia Tech of the ACC on January 25th does not count as an exciting game. Tech is 11-5 and 0-2 to start ACC play. It would be a nice win for BYU but I don’t count it as a big game.

We all knew it would happen and now we’re starting to realize it: BYU’s schedule has taken a big step down. Of course their play was not exptected to be as good after losing Jimmer and Jackson Emery but many hoped the buzz would continue.

Their games just aren’t as fun this year. BYU is still drawing nice crowds at home, but nothing like last year. And it goes with out saying that their road games will be nothing compared to last year due to the smaller gyms of the WCC. Outside of Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga, the other WCC conference teams don’t even register on the college basketball radar. The 4th best team in the WCC is Loyola Marymount at 9-7, 2-1 WCC. Loyola Marymount hasn’t been relevant for 20 years.

Now to be fair, BYU played a decent non-conference schedule: Utah State, Oregon, Baylor, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Utah. There’s just no getting around how weak the WCC is. It’s a shame for BYU basketball and their fans. They deserve better. They’ve earned it. We knew this was coming. It’s just that reality is now starting to set in and it’s not quite as fun.


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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