According to ESPN and Sagarin, BYU has been listed as the 41st-best college basketball program of all time. For a school better known for its football, 41 ain't too shabby--the top 1/8 of college basketball schools (330). BYU's 1,578 all-time wins places them in the top 20 for program wins, with 28 conference (WAC and MWC) titles and two NIT (used to be THE tournament) championships a long time ago.
"It's a little surprising," said BYU coach Dave Rose in an interview with ESPN. "I know the won-loss records have been terrific here and there have been some great players here, some of the best basketball players in the world."
These current Cougars are a long cry from the horrifying mid to late 90s when BYU suffered through 1-win seasons--yeah, one stinking win during an entire season. But, thanks to Rose, BYU basketball has arguably never been healthier. Rose is 97-34 overall, on pace to be the fastest BYU coach to 100 career victories; he has led the Cougars to three-straight Mountain West Conference titles—a first at BYU in almost 80 years—and is 51-13 in league play (.797). Simply incredible.
ESPN's Andy Katz had this to say:
"BYU consistently competes for its conference championship, so seeing that the Cougars are a top-50 program isn't a stunner. But a few other programs will try to spin the news of their historical place in the game to try to lift their programs out of their current abyss."
Though 41 is good, it doesn't even get close to another MWC foe--the Utes. Who would have thought Tom Chambers could have lifted the Utes to such heights deserving a spot in the top 20? I kid about Chambers, but he was superb up on the hill. You throw in guys like Andre Miller, Keith Van Horn, the two Aussies and the Utes have been phenomenal.
Back to BYU. The Cougars have produced 26 all-Americans--the most famous being Danny Ainge (or Shawn Bradley, for different reasons)...along with guys like Kresimir Cosic, Jeff Chatman (my favorite BYU guy growing up), Andy Toolson, Devin Durrant, Russell Larson, Hafa Araujo, etc.
So, I got to thinking: Who is BYU's all-time "great"--the cover boy? And, if you had to put a starting 5 together, who would it be?