Last year, 2008, was going to be the year for BYU to bust the BCS. BYU entered the season ranked in the top 20, and all the media outlets were on the band wagon. Following an impressive 59-0 win over UCLA, stories with titles like “Could BYU land in the National Title Game” (Stewart Mandel, www.si.com), and “Moving Mountain West into BCS Title Picture” (Dan Deinhart, sports.yahoo.com) started popping up on the Internet. Then, on October 16, 2008, that all came crashing down as TCU ambushed BYU en route to at devastating 32-7 upset.
This crushing defeat could be attributed to many factors. I believe one significant factor was the media hype. Having played football before, I know how distracting rankings can be. Coming from Utah, I know how exciting it is to have media attention there. Graduating from BYU, I know we feel entitled to success. My experience tells me that the players bought into the hype and were not very focused, otherwise the BCS might have been. Contrast that with 2006 and 2007, when the expectations were not as high. BYU posted back-to-back 11-2 seasons, back-to-back conference championships, and back-to-back bowl victories.
That loss to TCU and Utah’s subsequent Sugar Bowl win shifted the attention away from BYU. Although I greatly enjoyed the attention and frequent updates, I thought that the lack of attention would be better for the team to succeed in 2009. My optimism was growing that 2009 would be an exceptional year since the team would not have all the distractions. Now, however, the 2009 season is upon us, the media has forgotten last year and showering BYU with press time. (It doesn’t help that this year marks the 25th anniversary of BYU’s National Championship.) This is making me worry again how the team will react. How much did they really learn from last year? Throw in a possible upset of number 3 Oklahoma on September 5, and the attention and expectations will skyrocket.
I consider myself a true-blue Cougar all the way around, but I think we would all sacrifice some media coverage for more victories.