BYU’s football outlook for the 2016 season. The Cougars are restarting things with a new coaching staff, but it could all be disastrous from the start with a brutal schedule.
Seriously, BYU. What are you doing?
This whole being an independent thing might not be without its charm – and the revenue – but it’s as if the program is setting itself up to not have any fun.
I’ve complained for years about BYU not having anything to play for – there’s no conference championship to shoot for, and the College Football Playoff world is an unrealistic dream – but at least make it a fair fight.
So let’s play along. Let’s say for a moment that BYU puts together a heater of a team with the right talent, make-up and magic to put together a special run. To get into the CFP as an independent, it’ll 1) have to go unbeaten, 2) have to do it with a little pizzazz, and 3) has to beat at least two excellent Power 5 teams along the way.
Part One is always going to be a given, Part Two will never be a problem for a program known for fun offenses, and Part Three isn’t an issue because of the schedule – unless BYU decides to do something like its 2016 slate.
Maybe Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, or one the true heavyweights survives the first nine games of BYU’s slate, but that would hardly be a given playing Arizona in Glendale, at Utah, UCLA, West Virginia in Maryland, Toledo, at Michigan State, Mississippi State, at Boise State and at Cincinnati by the first week of November.
So it’s off to the already locked-in deal with the Poinsettia Bowl for the Cougars – if they’re lucky.
But they’re going to still play the season and try to put together something miraculous in Kalani Sitake’s first season at the helm.
The new coaching staff is interesting – particularly with Ty Detmer coming in as the offensive coordinator – and there’s enough returning on both sides of the ball to turn in a strong year, even with the schedule, but all it’ll take is one misfire and the season is effectively over.
But along the way, the Cougars will try to screw up the big boys they get to deal with.
The quarterback situation is among the best in college football with Taysom Hill back to fight it out with Tanner Mangum for time – they’ll both be fantastic when they get their chances.
RB Jamaal Williams is back after being suspended for last year. The receiving corps is very big, if not too experienced. The O line has to killers on the left side to build around in Ului Lapuaho at guard and Brad Wilcox at tackle – the running game should work no matter who’s at quarterback.
The defense will still work a little bit with a 3-4 alignment, but it’ll move around a bit with the 4-3 being more prevalent. The linebackers are going to be a strength, Kai Nacua is a terrific safety, and the line has good bulk with five 300-pounders to work in a rotation.
It’s a good team. It would be one of the favorites in the Mountain West, it would be a player in the Big 12, and it would make noise in either Pac-12 division. But BYU is still an independent, and this year, that’s not going to mean a whole bunch of fun.