BYU Football Needs Change
Losing to rivals, getting beat up in the first few games and falling to bad G5 teams is not acceptable for BYU Football.
After losing to Toledo, a team from possibly the worst conference in the entire country, BYU football fans have had enough and are demanding a change. What that change is however is not clear. While the most common answer seems to be to replace Kalani Sitake, there are plenty of other options and possibilities that would bring change for the future.
1. Replace Kalani Sitake and the Staff
This would essentially replace Sitake and the entire staff. While this is a popular option, it would almost certainly set BYU up for failure for at least the next few seasons. Very few coaches are able to come in and take an average team and make them a good team in their first two seasons.
The other problem is BYU is very unique in who they can hire to be the coach. The Head Coach under current rules has to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in good standing with the church. That means that the pool of candidates is very VERY small. Unless Andy Reid wants to finish out his coaching career at BYU, there doesn't seem to anyone who would be an obviously better choice than Sitake.
Also, with the coaching salary gap between BYU and other schools only getting bigger, a good coach would really have to want to be at BYU to take the pay cut. Finally, with the upcoming schedules with even more P5 teams than this year, it would be a recipe for disaster for anyone trying to implement a new system.
2. Go Back to the Mountain West or Ask to go to the AAC
I know this feels like BYU would be the prodigal son in this kind of situation, but the reality is, Independence isn't working very well unless you consider playing teams all over the country successful. It is great for fans who live around the country, but that is about it. The Cougars are a combined 17-25 against Power Five/Notre Dame and have dropped head scratchers to teams like UMass, Virginia, Northern Illinois, East Carolina, Fresno State and now Toledo.
Even when you've got those kind of games with an occasional USC, Texas or Michigan State win, it is overall negative result. I've got a theory on why BYU has struggled so much against some easier teams. Outside of Utah State, Boise State and Utah, every season BYU has to prepare for seven or eight new teams (with an FCS game). Most other teams in the country have four non conference (with an FCS game) and then eight games against the same teams they play every season. While those games do take preparation, there is at least some knowledge and experience every year making things easier for teams to prepare for.
That means BYU never sees the same players year to year making it harder to learn how to contain a certain quarterback or running back. This is a huge disadvantage to BYU and going back to a conference would help out with that and probably lead to less head scratching losses.
3. Change the Schedule
This would be really difficult and perhaps not even possible, but if BYU can somehow re-evaluate their schedule and either switch up future game orders or even cancel games that may be in their best interest. There is just no way that BYU can handle four Power Five teams to start off their season and hope to remain healthy enough to stay competitive the rest of the season.
The reason why BYU has decided to schedule this way is because it is easiest to get the big name teams in the first few weeks of the year while teams are playing their non conference games, but what it has led to is players getting beat up and hurt. Honestly the second stringers for the Cougars are not very good and it showed against Toledo and late against Washington.
If BYU could build in a BYE week or an FCS game between four or five Power Five games that would give players enough time to recover and stay healthy for the rest of the season. Would it be a headache and a financial burden for BYU? Absolutely, however it could end up paying off in the end if it means selling more tickets and winning more games.
4. Fans Change Perspective
What if we as fans are the problem? College Football is changing. Coaches get paid more and schools are making more. BYU is not in a Power Five Conference and will not and can not keep up financially with bigger schools. BYU is no longer the automatic destination for LDS kids like it used to be in the past. Schools like Stanford, Utah and USC are starting to accommodate more players serving missions before coming back and having good careers.
With all of this, maybe it is time for fans to accept the fact that BYU can not elite until they get into a Power Five Conference or they land a top recruit that can change the team enough to make the team nationally relevant. That means celebrate when BYU wins, look forward to bowl games most seasons and hope for the best. I am also an Arkansas fan and that is the perspective us fans have. We don't expect to beat Alabama, but we celebrated last year when the Hogs put up 35 points against them. Maybe it is time BYU takes a similar approach.
- - - - - - - - - -
None of these possible solutions guarantee success and could even backfire, but something does need to change, and it has to change now.