Las Vegas Bowl
- If BYU didn't have fans right next door and gobbling up 30,-000 + tickets can you imagine Vegas Bowl officials ever inviting the Cougars for this game? "come on down BYU fans and party like there is no tomorrow--what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" Somehow I don't know that slogan would go down well with the non-drinking, non-gambling (for the most part) Cougar fans, especially if they had to come cross country. But lucky for Vegas, Utah is next door and Mormons have to eat and sleep and they still like to shop like normal folks god bless them.
So in the game that I know you all watched, Cal beat BYU 35-28. I wasn't surprised that Marshawn Lynch ran all over the Cougars (195 yards). The defense has been the Achilles heel of BYU all season, especially their secondary (can't tackle-can't cover). Still BYU made a game of it and that's encouraging. I'm not a die-hard BYU fan (after all I root for rival Utah as well) so I wasn't having brain aneurysms when they began to have losing seasons after dominating their conference for decades (although Gary Crowton could not get fired fast enough for me). ---But I do root for them and would like to see both Utah and BYU compete for the conference title every year.
Recruiting and the Role Sex, Booze and Religion Play
I'm realistic about BYU's place in the national picture. In addition to playing in a mid-major conference BYU has one huge disadvantage going for them. They'll never be able to consitently recruit great players. They are a Mormon school with an honor code that kicks players off the team if they are caught drinking, smoking, or having pre-marital sex. That's right-- no nookie. Think about that. What good football team could recruit top players if booze and chicks were out of the picture? I'm getting the giggles just thinking about it. It's amazing BYU is able to field a team. Fans for teams like Stanford and Notre Dame complain about how tough their academic standards are and how that hurts recruiting. Try telling 18 year old kids who haven't been virgins since they were 14 that they will need to be celibate for the next 4 years. Now that's a handicap. I'm not saying it's a terrible thing to ask kids or God forbid, even football players to live with these standards. I'm just saying it's unrealistic if you want a top 25 football team year in and year out.
BYU will always be able to get a healthy dose of Mormon recruits and some other good non-Mormon players that are either willing to adhere to the standards for a few years or perhaps already have those standards (umm..its possible) --but not in the quantity that will make them a dominant team every year. And lets be honest here, there are players currently on the team that aren't following the honor code and just haven't gotten caught. (also I've always wondered how it is these guys do get caught--its not like they are feeling so guilty about it that they go into the administration to confess --"uh yeah, I uh got drunk out of my mind the other night and slept with the Biology professor's daughter..thats an honor code violation right?" --uh uh-- it's either some girl that confesses to her Mormon bishop and he tells the school or it's the girl's friends that spill the beans. Probably because it was just a one nighter for the guy and they're pissed that he would use her and drop her--yeah, that would be shocking for football players wouldn't it?)
Also, as long as were on the topic of disadvantages, when BYU used to run roughshod over their conference every year, teams like Wyoming would complain that they had an unfair advantage because of all the Mormon kids that would serve two year missions for the church (at 19 years of age many Mormon guys volunteer to do this) and supposedly come back more mature physically and mentally. --what?! --That's insane. Yeah that really makes sense-- go spend two years away from football and then come back and suddenly your better than you were before. --Somebody shoot me now. ---Now that the team has sucked for a few years you don't hear that coming out of rival coaches mouths as much. Not only that but think about the disruption and management nightmare it is year in and year out to figure out which guys are going and who's coming back from the mission and how to plug them in. Don't get me started on this. For a really good explanation of just how ludicrous this supposed advantage is check out this article.
BYU Not Assured of Top Mormon Recruits or Top Coaches
Anyway, back to recruiting problems---if BYU isn't as successful as they were in the 80's and 90's then even some top Mormon recruits like UCLA's backup QB sophomore Ben Olson (who was the # 1 rated recruit in the Nation in 2002--played his freshman year at BYU--went on a mission for two years--saw that BYU still sucked -and transferred)will go someplace where they think they will get more exposure and a better shot at being drafted. It's a pickle for coaches that's for sure. Which is why having the best coach in the conference is a must. If you can't get the best players then you have to have someone who will squeeze every ounce of talent out of what you have. Here too though BYU is at a disadvantage. They will only hire a Mormon coach. I'm not sure if this is policy or just practice because a Mormon guy understands the culture and will accept the unique challenges that are part of coaching at the school. Also they underpay their coaches compared to the other high profile football programs in the conference. So the guy has got to be loyal. We'll see how that pans out if current coach Bronco Mendenhall somehow molds the team into a winner and other teams come calling.
-wow I've really gotten long winded with this thing so I guess I'll shut up. I'm not trying to make excuses for BYU's mediocrity....wait a second, yes I am...but they are legitimate excuses I think. In additon to the disadvantages associated with missionaries, keeping the very top Mormon recruits and getting a quality coach from a very limited coaching pool, we come back to the fact that they are missing out on a lot of recruits because of their honor code. Bottom line: Sex sells and BYU isn't buying (and neither are the recruits). You know what? I'm all right with that. I'm not whining about these disadvanatages (they are of BYU's own making), I'm just pointing out that they are there. I'll still root for them to do well but the school is what it is. I get my fix of football without the distraction of morals every week in the NFL.