On BYU Football Independence

BYU football started up again last night. Well, “started up” is a relative term, as apparently we still haven’t learned that when you play against Utah, the goal is to NOT throw them the ball when we’re on offense. But I have confidence in our team. If at first you don’t succeed, try try try try try try try try try again. We’ll get it down eventually, and in the meantime, we’re doing wonders for the self-esteem of half the state of Utah.

The game started at 10:25 Eastern time last night. There’s a lot in that sentence I don’t like. The late start of the game, and the early date of the BYU/Utah game itself. But for better or worse, that kind of represents this rivalry at this point. The teams feel obligated to play each other still, probably mainly because of the fan base, but the game itself . . . just doesn’t have the same importance it once did. The biggest impact this game could have was if Utah had lost, in which case BYU might have played a spoiler to a great season. But that’s the same situation any time a highly touted team takes the field. And if BYU won, what would it have meant for the team’s season? There would be more games to win next week and the week after.

The biggest drawback to BYU independence is that it feels like much of the reason to root for a team is gone as soon as the first loss comes each season, since BYU’s one real hope for relevance is to sweep the table and hope for a great bowl game. There’s no conference championship to play for. The games after a single loss stop having any real meaning other than personal pride and trying to get the best record we can, because . . . winning? In the days of the Mountain West, there was still jockeying for position within the conference. There was the championship to go for. The longer we’re away from a conference, the more I see how much that meant.

That said, we were also stuck with the Mtn, a TV station I abhorred, and one that was very difficult to watch on the East Coast. These days, almost all of the games are fairly easy for me to see, with the exception of away games with conferences that have bad television rights. Except so many of the games start at terrible times for an Easterner. I end up watching the first half, going to bed, and then watching the second half on DVR the next day. Sure, I get to skip the commercials, but . . . it’s just not the same.

So which would I prefer? Games that are harder to watch and not as challenging week to week, or games that are a beast the first half of the season, and easy to see?

The answer, of course, is “neither.” There’s a pleasant middle ground there somewhere, but I’m not sure BYU is anywhere near getting to it. It would involve joining one of the big conferences, which is what it would take. At this point, I’d say it’s likelier we join a smaller conference. Maybe the Mountain West again. Or we just keep sticking to the independent route.

Fact: none of the hoops would matter as much if we were winning games consistently. You feel just fine losing sleep over a game when you win a tough match. It’s when you keep losing that fans start to check watches and grumble about time starts and game importance.

I’ll always be a BYU fan, regardless of the record, but the longer these sort of sputtering seasons go on, the likelier drastic change is sought for again soon. But I’m not sure switching coaches is going to do much in that department . . .

But maybe I’m just grumpy because we lost and I’m feeling sleep deprived. There’s always next week.

Go Cougars!


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