I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line the expectations of BYU football fans have gotten way out of whack. This isn’t the 80’s anymore nor are the Cougars playing in the watered down Mountain West Conference of the 90’s and 2000’s. All we’ve heard for the first few years of BYU as an independent is that they need to play a tougher schedule. That it’s not fun for anyone to go watch the Y. playing the likes of Idaho, Idaho State, Weber State, or San Jose State even though the Spartans actually beat BYU last year and were a top 25 team.
Every school plays a least a few door mats. Even the best teams in the country play horrible non-conference schedules. Look at the power houses in the South Eastern Conference for instance. LSU plays UAB, Kent State, and Furman this season while Alabama plays Colorado State, Georgia State and Chattanooga. That’s not exactly murders row if you know what I mean. In fact just about every big time college program has a game or two like that each year. Fans can’t have it both ways. You can’t play 12 great games every year and still expect to win 10 or 11 games. Even if you have great teams that just not going to happen. Look at the 2012 season as an example. BYU had the best defense it has had in a long time yet they still won just eight games. The Cougars played a decent schedule and it bit them in the butt.
Most fans look at the Boise State model and wonder why the Cougars can’t do that. Well, it’s because the Broncos just never played anyone. They played one big time team each year and if they got over that hurdle then they were on their way. Boise State was also in a terrible WAC conference, which meant they had seven automatic wins each year. We already know that BYU fans don’t want to play that level of competition. The thing that fans forget however, is that the Cougars always used to play pretty low-level competition in the MWC and WAC. The bottom’s of those conferences were terrible every year yet the fans didn’t complain about it back then.
I’ve heard other fans say, “we dominated in the 80’s! Why can’t we do it now?” That’s an easy question to answer. The first reason in because BYU no longer gets all the best in-state recruits. They have great competition from the Utes and even the Aggies in that department. Both programs struggled greatly in the 80’s and BYU reaped the rewards from that. All the best kids came to the Y. because they were a winner. Both Utah State and Utah have great programs now. Even though the Utes struggled last year they still play in the PAC 12 and that is a huge draw for kids. The second thing is that not all the best LDS kids go to BYU anymore. They have so many other options now. They know that they can stand out as the “Mormon Kid” wherever they go. The third reason is that BYU isn’t the quarterback factory it once was. LaVell Edwards and Norm Chow are long gone and so is the offensive system that made the Cougars great. The fourth reason is that BYU’s JuCo pipeline no longer exists. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints turned Ricks College into BYU-Idaho and quit playing football it did serious damage to BYU. They had a built-in feeder system of kids who already knew how to live the honor code.
The other thing that really effects the fans is that they buy into the hype that comes from Coach and the A.D. Having lofty goals is a fantastic thing but they aren’t always attainable. BYU hasn’t been a top 10 program since long before laVell left and it’s going to take a long time to get back there. The fans need to be patient even if the BYU brass isn’t. Remember that football is 5th on the list of priorities for coach Bronco Mendenhall.
With all that being said, as Cougar fans you have two options. Play a great schedule every year and hope that your team is good enough to make a bowl game or play a few good teams and fill out the rest of the schedule with garbage. That way you can get 10 wins every year and puff out your chest’s without proving anything. If it were up to me I would play the great schedule and hope for the best. Those games are much more fun even if they do get hammered sometimes. Either way its time to stop all the yelling and just enjoy the games.
There is nothing wrong with having high expectations for your team but don’t go out and complain if you get beat once in a while. Every loss doesn’t’ mean that the coach or the coordinators need to be fired so you don’t need to start websites to try to make that happen. Sometimes you are going to get beat when you play good teams all the time. It’s not the end of the world so don’t treat it as such!