BYU kicked off NCAA football Media Days nationwide today. AD Tom Holmoe, and coaches Bronco Mendenhall, Robert Anae, Nick Howell, and ESPN analyst Trevor Matich were all a part of the State of the Program during BYU Media Day.
If you want the TL;DR up front, then here it is: No scheduling announcements. Nothing new on the NCAA infraction allegations. BYU will be traveling over 14,500 miles this season, third most in the country. It was a rather vanilla media day. However, here is the breakdown of what was said by those who participated:
Holmoe mentioned that BYU is 15th in the nation in national TV games, exposure is still good for BYU. Playing in 15 different states in the last four years will do that for you. Although he is enjoying BYU independence, Holmoe clearly sees that BYU needs to get into a conference, saying that BYU is prepared to jump whenever they need to. Power 5 teams are continuing to schedule BYU, and while no new games were announced, Holmoe stated, "There are a couple of games that we'll have fun announcing." Holmoe is more sanguine on independence than is Mendenhall, he thinks they are in a good position now and going forward, "The most important thing for us to do is play great football and improve the BYU Cougar brand." He addressed Mendenhall's comments to the Austin American Statesman, "I have a different approach to it, although we have similar goals in mind...We're on the same team."
Concerning the NCAA infractions, Holmoe said that BYU has completed their investigation and is waiting for the NCAA to investigate now. Although he didn't shed any more light on what the allegations, he did say that they were not major and that he expects the NCAA to get back with BYU in a month. Holmoe also likes the affiliation with the AAC in the Miami Beach Bowl as the Cougars have scheduled a lot of their teams.
"I like our team, I like our schedule, I like our progress, I like our exposure," said Mendenhall. He still likes being an independent, but this summer is singing a different tune than in years past. Mendenhall is now saying that independence is "...a great place to launch from...it's moving us closer to independence." Bronco is continuing to be vocal about Power 5 inclusion, saying that he and the team have a chip on their shoulder this season. When asked about his comments to the Austin American Statesman he said, "Why not? I thought someone needed to say it...It came out exactly the way I intended it." As far as the NCAA infraction allegations are concerned, Mendenhall is not concerned. BYU was quick in conducting their investigation, he said he's "...never seen anything like it."
Concerning the offense Mendenhall said that the focus has been on receivers and providing Hill with more down field targets. Mendenhall has his sights set beyond the Miami Beach Bowl saying, "We'll see where we end up." He was also quick to remind everyone that BYU will be playing to get into ten straight bowl games. "There's one team that's won more bowl games than BYU in the last nine years, FSU. We're second. We're gonna play every year postseason." Things haven't really changed for BYU in postseason play from the BCS era, BYU needs to go undefeated. Bronco set the standard that fans should expect of the Cougars this season when he said that a special season would mean double-digit wins and a top 25 ranking. Mendenhall likes the option the defense will have of going to man coverage in the secondary and expects them to be more dominant on defense this year.
Robert Anae is looking forward to his offense going fast, going hard, and going far. "Looking forward to a couple of major tweaks...not with scheme but with personnel," he said. Anae is excited about incoming players this year and said, "It's fun to have new players that rather than feeling entitled come in looking how they can contribute."He also expects big things out of Jamaal Williams and has "already apologized to Harvey, his record is going down." Williams needs 1,448 yards to do so.
Anae stated that he expects the offense to be border line great this season if they can have a consistent deep threat. However, he acknowledged that the Cougars have to be more efficient in the red zone this season (Yes, he called it the red zone). Last season Anae thought that BYU lost the game to the University of Virginia because the offense was not ready to win the game. This year they are far ahead of where they were last year and he assured fans that the Cougars will be ready to win in August.
Replacing KVN will not be easy, but Nick Howell said the process is going very well. Bronson Kaufusi and Alani Fua are looking good and the incoming freshman/returned missionary talent is also looking good. Concerning the depth in the secondary Howell stated that there is "more depth than we've ever had...We have some really good players coming back. We really missed Jordan Johnson last year."
Sure Trevor Matich is a former BYU player who, as an ESPN analyst, has a vested interest in BYU's success, but he made some great points about the program. There are about 500,000 LDS church members in SEC country and it is the large dispersion of church members throughout the country that makes it possible for BYU fans to make a solid presence at any game they play, anywhere in the country. "There are a lot of reasons why any conference would love to have BYU, it's a national audience that's interested," said Matich.
Because of their independent schedule, BYU coaches have been able to meet recruits in person at games around the country that they wouldn't have been able to meet with otherwise. He also thinks that "while life isn't fair, they still have the capability of forcing their way in (to a playoff)." Concerning the BIG12, Matich thinks that if they get snubbed out of the playoffs this fall it could force their hand to expand to 12 teams and a conference title, which would be a best case scenario for BYU. "I think BYU would play very well in the BIG12 right now."
Continue to check back as any breaking news happens during Media Day.