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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Texas A&M Makes It Official; Unclear Where New Conference Will Be

Texas A&M officially announced yesterday what the entire college football world already knew: it will be leaving the Big XII in search of a new conference. In a letter to the Big XII, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin stated that "I have determined that it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to join another athletic conference." The school's departure will be effective June 30, 2012.

Big XII Chairman Brady Deaton responded by stating the conference's intention of moving "aggressively" to find a replacement.

BYU is said to be on the shortlist of teams to replace A&M, along with long-shots Notre Dame and Arkansas.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Big XII Responds to A&M's Request

According to the Star-Telegram, Texas A&M has received a letter from the Big XII outlining the procedures for leaving the conference. This is expected to be the next step in A&M leaving the Big XII for the SEC.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin made it clear that when it comes to conference alignment decisions, the sooner the better:

"While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time."

BYU is expected to be on the Big XII's short list to replace A&M.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blowouts in store for 2011 Cougars

Ole Miss- A team struggling to find a qb, is a team that is vulnerable, especially early on in the season. BYU showed that last year. Weather looks to be a factor down in the deep south. Look for a few mistakes early, but half time to clear up some of the mishaps.
Texas- Coming off its worse year since Mack Brown has been at the helm (13 years) and still having a qb battle just 2 years removed from the BCS title game. Lots of questions to be answered here.
Utah - This game has revenge game written all over it. Being as it is in Provo, Cougars look to pounce the Utes early on in the season for momentum.
UCF- A dagnerous team that could surprise the cougars. However, I have a hard time seeing the cougars dropping this one at home in front of 65K screaming blue clad cougar fans.
Utah State- Another revenge game, at LES has the looking for a total lopsided Cougar 'W'. Utah State is looking to replace their qb, who gave BYU fits all game last year in the Aggies 31-16 victory.
San Jose St- I am going to go out on a limb here and say BYU could break their single game record for points (83 pts) in this homecoming affair. however, Bronco hasn't been one to run up the score (unlike some people up north) so dont be surprised to see Heaps on the sideline shortly after halftime.
Oregon State- The Beavers lost their best offensive weapon in Jacquizz Rogers to the NFL. Being in Corvallis might make this a tough test, and the Beavers could be looking to gain some pride after their 2009 beat down in the LV bowl. However, BYU in my opinion is just too good to let this one slip.
Idaho State- Blowout
TCU- Aside from the obvious rivalry game, and possibly Texas, this is the most intgriguing game of the year
Idaho- See Idaho State prediction
New Mexico St- If the San Jose St game does not provide enough points for you from the cougar end, get tready for an encore in late November.
Hawaii- This is going to be a fun game to watch. I foresee a high scoring affair with the winner very hard to predict 4 months out. Should be a fun game though.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why BYU Won't Join the Big XII: Part 2

The other day I wrote that BYU won't join the Big XII for one reason: exposure.

With ESPN reporting that Texas A&M will in fact join the SEC, the likelihood of BYU getting an invite is quickly increasing. And although the money and BCS access might be hard to turn down, the exposure question remains.

Consider this: Big XII teams not named Texas or Oklahoma have 4-6 games scheduled on national TV so far for the season. Most of those games are guessed it, Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, 5 teams still do not have a single game scheduled on national TV at all. Compare that to BYU's exposure in year one of independence with 10 games on the ESPN network and another against Oregon State likely to be picked up.

And then there's the question of BYUtv. BYU and its fans are very excited to have the rights to its games not broadcast on television, but the likelihood of that happening in the Big XII is slim. Indeed, the Longhorn Network is the very thing that pushed A&M over the edge. BYU has spent a lot of money and time to build up BYUtv to get ready for the sports season, and they aren't likely to let that go to waste.

Let's also not forget about the contracts BYU has signed pursuant to their declaration of independence. Getting ESPN to broadcast 3 or 4 games in the Big 12 shouldn't be hard, but BYU has committed to play too many teams to fit into a typical Big XII schedule. Take 2012, for example. That year they have contracted to play Oregon State, Hawaii, Utah, Boise State, Utah State, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame (a great schedule, I might add). Clearly this wouldn't fit into their schedule as a Big XII member, so BYU would be forced to buy out of the contracts. It's doubtful that the Big XII would cough up the money to help with those costs.

Being in an AQ conference is worth a lot, but is it worth sacrificing the exposure and schedule independence has already given the Cougars? Probably not.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why BYU Won't Join the Big XII

There are plenty of reasons for BYU to join the Big XII: BCS access, great opponents, and recruiting opportunities. There are also lots of reason to avoid the recently shrunken conference. For example, recent rumors have Texas A&M bolting to the SEC, leaving the future of the conference in question.

But the real reason BYU will stay independent is summed up in one word, a word that has been uttered quite a bit in Provo the last year: exposure.

BCS access has never been BYU's number one goal. BYU doesn't just want money; it has plenty of that. What does BYU want? BYU wants to travel the country and play football in front of their fans in all time zones. It wants ten games on the ESPN network. It wants to schedule a season with games against Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Utah, Boise State, and Hawaii. That schedule includes games against the Big XII, ACC, PAC 12, Mountain West, and Notre Dame (yes, they are their own conference). By the way, that is BYU's 2013 schedule.

If BYU joins the Big XII then it is back to scheduling 3 nonconference games a year, two of which would likely include Utah and Utah State. That would mean that they would play their entire football schedule in the midwest and Utah. A season without at least one game against a west coast school doesn't seem likely and BYU would also love to get at least one east coast team on the schedule.

Fans argue that BYU can always go back to independence if the Big XII ultimately disintegrates, but independence has never been a backup plan for the Cougars. There may have been a few BCS conferences that Holmoe and company would have considered joining, but an unstable Big XII is not one of them.

BYU is independent, and that is a great place for them to stay.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Best BYU offense Ever?

Matt Reynolds is a pre-season All-American
This years offensive crew for the cougars has all the trimmings to be one of, if not THE best offense in BYU football history, in my humble opinion.

Reasons for this claim are many, and solid. Here are the 3 most prominent reason why this year could be a special one for the cougars of BYU.

#1 Experience. I cannot remember a year where the cougars returned so many meaningful starters on the offensive side of the ball. Jake Heaps, the returning stud from last year, returns as the fully entrenched starter and leader of the squad. Heaps growth throughout last year was incredibly visible towards to end of the year, where he showed why he was a top recruit the year previous. He ended up breaking every freshman QB record in the illustrious BYU record books, and is only getting better.
   To help Heaps on the wings, BYU returns emerging start wide-out Cody Hoffman, who showed his size (6'4'') and play making ability will make him a tough match up for any opposing defense. McKay Jacobsen returns after a very average (below average for him) season in 2010, and looks to be a threat to go deep, and come across the middle in the slot receiver position. Red shirt freshman Ross Apo (6'3'') will be lining up opposite of Hoffman, making that 2 large skilled targets for Heaps on the sidelines. A year practicing with the team helps with the chemistry, which has been reported to be very strong between Apo and Heaps even prior to their enrollment at the Y.
Will Jake Heaps be the best BYU QB ever?
   What else needs to be said about BYU's offensive line that already hasn't been said. They are solid, and they are big. Returning 4 of 5 starters ( the one starter being Jason Speardon who just so happens to be playing in the NFL), makes this group the most experienced on the team, and possibly the country. This group of blockers looks to prove they are one of the best in the country, anchored by All-American candidate Matt Reynolds. Reynolds turned down the NFL to lead the cougars into independence, and should be a high draft pick next spring.

  #2 Skill. The skill positions all have someone that can make a play, and then some. Each position has a go to guy, but any one of the receivers or backs can come in and contribute in a big way. OC Brandon Doman has come out and said publicly that he expects Josh Quezada to have a surprisingly good year, making that story very intriguing to watch throughout the season.
   Last year, the Cougars had more rushing yards than they had had in almost 2 decades. All three of those backs responsible, are back for more. Not to mention, as I already have, the offensive line that led the way for that rushing attack returns 4 of the 5 starters.
   Play-makers are all across the board for Jake Heaps to get the ball to this year. The tight-ends, who were terrible last year, cannot be any worse that they were last year. That being said, they should produce a lot more this year, especially in crucial 3rd down conversions.

Senior JJ Di Luigi is a dual threat
receiving and rushing the ball
#3 Schedule. Last season, cougar opponents gave up an average of 27 points per game. The cougars offense, we all know hit their stride last year after the Utah State implosion. The team averaged 33 points a game the rest of the way, and started to mesh with their new found star in Jake Heaps. This season, with the above 2 factors included, the cougars go up against teams like San Jose St. (35 ppg given up), New Mexico St. (40 ppg against), Ole Miss (35 ppg against) and Utah State (34 ppg against). This will give a BYU offense plenty of reps to shred the defenses and put points on the board. While there are teams like TCU (12 ppg against) and Utah (24 ppg against) on the schedule, and UCF for the mattter (17 ppg against), they are going to be going up against a much improved offensive unit from the cougars, who will threaten just about any defense in the country.
   BYU records show that their best offensive season yardage wise was 1983, where they averaged 584.2 yards a game. in 1996, under now Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisien the cougars averaged nearly 51 points per game. These records seem high, however this year the cougars have an offense that could brush those marks. I am not predicting they will, but I would not be surprised if they did. They have the talent, they have the skill, and they have the schedule to do it.
   Thanks to ESPN, you can actually watch the cougars this year. You just might be watching history when you do.