BYU Football’s media day came and went this past week and boy was it a snoozer. The clearest indication of this was the fact that Ed Lamb’s story about how he passed a kidney stone on the sideline at the Wisconsin game was the biggest revelation. Beyond that everything was pretty ho hum.
No major updates on scheduling or bowl games. No discussion about conference affiliation. No chatter about new coaches and the changes that they’re implementing.
The only major announcement that will impact BYU football this fall will be the implementation of Cougar Canyon, a large fan hang-out on the street just west of the stadium. It’s great to see that BYU is investing in the fan experience with this and the renovations that add a full concourse on the second level of LES. But this announcement alone wasn’t substantial enough to keep things interesting the entire day.
And let me be clear, this is in no way an indictment of the production quality and coverage provided by the good people at BYUtv. It’s not their fault that they put on an event worthy of a full P5 conference but only have one team to cover.
So why then, is it a good sign that BYU’s media day was a bore?
If there is a lot of attention or energy built up around media day it usually means an abundance of two things, those being hype and change.
BYU fans aren’t strangers to the off-season hype cycle. After the season, we start to think about what we could look forward to in spring ball and the coming season. After spring camp breaks, we get excited about the performances of lesser-known players who only got reps because half the starters are out with injuries. Then once things are quiet, the message boards start blowing up about how a certain guy has been killing in the weight room or putting in a lot of work with a specialized position coach. By the time we get to fall camp, Cougar fans aren’t only giddy with excitement but somehow expectations have reached soaring heights that are clearly unrealistic.
Then, during the season, we are sufficiently humbled only to start the same thing over again in January.
For whatever reason -- and this will probably change by the time we reach fall camp -- the hype train hasn’t gained a lot of steam in 2019. Maybe it’s because Cougar fans have learned their lesson? The realities of an independent schedule make for an accelerated reality check and when fans and media types see those first four games, they know better than to throw out any undefeated nonsense.
It could also be that a lot of key players have been nursing injuries over the offseason and fans don’t want to get their hopes up until they have received a full bill of health. Zach Wilson and Matt Bushman, both of which are expected to be the stars of the BYU offense, are on their way to being cleared so a lot of the discussion at media day was focused on their recovery. There is plenty to be excited about with BYU football but the optimism that could be described as delusional has rightly shifted to a more cautious place.
So with hype leveling out, that would leave us with change leading the way at media day -- but fortunately there wasn’t much of that either.
The previous thee years, BYU has had to replace its entire coaching staff, then two of the most beloved offensive players in recent memory (Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill) and in 2018 there was full purge of the offensive staff. That meant media day was a good opportunity to get to know the new coaches or players that would be stepping up to fill the void. BYU did welcome a new offensive line coach Eric Mateos to the fold this year but his seamless integration made it feel like he’s been with the program for years.
There was also the arrival of two grad transfer running backs but the majority of their interviews focus on getting to work. There will be some fresh faces on defense but both sides of ball return plenty of starters.
Even beyond the coaching staff and players, there isn’t a whole lot of news to report. Tom Holmoe has worked tirelessly to craft a competitive independent schedule and it appears as if the department is on the verge of inking a new television deal with ESPN. The conference realignment chatter has bottomed out and BYU had already announced their bowl partnership for the year.
The lack of changes could be seen as a concern but, in the end, it’s stability. There aren’t any massive clouds of doubt that will hang over the team before they start the season. We know who the coaches are and they know kind of team they will have come fall camp. We know, more or less, what the schedule will be for the next few years and that independence is working for now. It would be presumptive to say that things are rock solid but, for the first time in the last few years, things are steady.
And while that might not make for the most exciting media day, it does mean there are less distractions from what happens on the field.