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November 19, 2012
What direction is BYU trending?
Thousands of BYU fans' dream came true today, on a day of realignment news, #BYU is trending on twitter! I don't think that these were the circumstances that fans were hoping to see BYU trending on twitter, with BYU just suffering a loss to SJSU, but let's talk about what is driving the #BYU trend.
In case you haven't heard, Maryland has accepted an invitation to join the B1G, and sources of all shapes and colors are reporting that Rutgers will be invited shortly and will accept the invitation by this week. Maryland's president has reportedly told regents that Maryland and Rutgers will be in the Leaders division and Illinois will move to the Legends division. Why wasn't BYU invited? Because they aren't a member of the AAU, BYU was never in the discussion to join the B1G and never will be until they are an academic institution and member of the AAU.
This all affects BYU because of the recently released news that BYU is not included in the group of 5 "Access" Bowl Bid, which made the Big East more enticing. With this expansion news the Big East is looking even more like its group of 5 peers and less like the 5 power conferences that are enjoying automatic bids to Access Bowls. Rutgers was one of the more successful football programs in the Big East recently, and they will be joining the B1G. With Maryland leaving the ACC, the ACC will choose their favorite program out of the Big East which will likely be Louisville or Cincinnati. So now instead of the Big East looking for one school to put their membership at 14 when Navy joins in 2015, they are either looking for one to put them at 12, or three to put them at 14. I don't know if adding Air Force and maybe Army would make for an enticing conference to BYU, or if the Big East would like to go in another direction rather than Army, but either way the chances of BYU joining the Big East just got slimmer.
One thing that might affect BYU in a positive way about the new post-season agreements is that the Orange Bowl is contracted to pit the ACC winner against the next highest ranked of the B1G, SEC, or Notre Dame. The Pac 12 was likely not included in that group of eligible Orange Bowl participants because of their regional distance, but why wasn't the Big 12 included as a potential participant? It could have been because of the number of conference members in each conference. The SEC has 14 conference members and now the B1G will have 14 conference members. Is it a coincidence that those are also the two conferences that have an extra Access Bowl affiliation? Why else would the B1G invite two programs that are going to dilute the quality of the conference? They both have a lot of potential fans because of the media markets they are in, but neither currently have very many football fans, and neither boost the ratings much.
I know that the ACC also has 14 members, and they don't have any extra bids, but I think that they are just happy to have an automatic bid in the first place. There's a clear separation in quality of conference between the top 4 conferences and the ACC. Georgia Tech playing in the conference championship game this year and having a shot at a BCS Bowl berth is the perfect example of how happy the ACC is just to be there.
If the B1G did go to 14 as a requirement to have that extra Access Bowl affiliation, then I think that both the Pac 12 and Big 12 are likely to go to 14 in order to gain that extra affiliation as well. The Pac 12 going to 14 likely wouldn't affect the Cougars since BYU isn't a research institution, but if the Big 12 needed to add 4 members then BYU would have a chance at getting in. What might be more likely is that the Big 12 would take four of the top teams from the ACC, who would be lured in by stronger income, better SOS, and an extra Access Bowl affiliation. This is all just speculation, I don't know exactly why the Big 12 and Pac 12 were left out of that Orange Bowl contract in the first place, and I don't have any sources or anything cool like that, but it's something to think about.
The other thing that has #BYU trending on twitter is how bad this loss to San Jose State is and what changes will be made in the coaching staff after this year. We continue to hear people wonder if Doman will have a job next year, and I'd like to talk about how Doman did developing quarterbacks at BYU. He developed John Beck to where Beck made quantum leaps in his progress before his senior season, and Doman really had Hall ready to play his sophomore season when he took over for the NFL-bound Beck. Hall made some nice progress from his sophomore to his junior season, but didn't progress from his junior to senior season and didn't get drafted or stick in the NFL for more than a season. Not that anybody is complaining about Hall's production or capability at this point, a quarterback of his quality would have likely taken BYU to a BCS Bowl this year.
Heaps actually progressed well his freshman year, he played really well against Utah's quality defense his freshman season. But then after BYU trounced a terrible UTEP team, Doman was named offensive coordinator and was expected to continue to coach up the quarterbacks, and that was the last of the quarterback progress at BYU. Heaps was the number 1 pro-style quarterback, Jason Munns was the 15th rated pro-style quarterback, and James Lark was the 25th rated pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school. How is it that BYU could have all three of those highly skilled quarterbacks on the roster and be going through this 3 year drought of productive quarterback play?
I think that Brandon Doman is very good at developing quarterbacks, the only blip on the resume there is Max Hall's junior to senior year. The drought at quarterback has a lot to do with the fact that BYU has had two linebackers coaches and no quarterbacks coach during that time. Luckily for BYU, Max Hall is serving as a graduate assistant quarterbacks coach, and BYU is probably going to need him to stay in that capacity until inside linebackers coach Paul Tidwell retires. BYU cannot afford any more seasons of the most important and most cerebral position on the team not having its own coach. Doman's troubles at offensive coordinator have everything to do with Bronco's decision not hire a quarterbacks coach in 2011, and Bronco's decision to stick with Riley at quarterback this year, even while injured.
I believe that next year Taysom Hill will have this BYU offense back to it's 2007 form when Hall was a sophomore himself, and Doman will be a great offensive coordinator going forward. I'm not sure if coach Weber will retain his job or not, I really don't think that it is a no-brainer that he should stay or go, so it's certainly going to be interesting to see what happens. If he does keep his job into 2013, I think he will probably get to stick around at least until Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams graduate, because the run game at BYU will thrive as long as those two are on the roster.
Follow me on twitter: @lancewarchibald