The BYU Cougars lose to Utah and Boise State, and Cougar fans are calling for Bronco Mendenhall’s head. Utah loses 37-7 to Arizona State and Ute fans are outraged at two blowouts in a row against ASU.
What are the expectations for the Intermountain area’s biggest programs?
Bronco Mendenhall spoke of playing for national titles when the Cougars went independent. Problem is, when you say it, people expect it.
It’s one thing to do it in the 1980s when the Cougars were playing in a weak conference. Now as an independent they’re playing Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Utah, Boise State and Oregon State.
Meanwhile, Utah was reminded once again that going undefeated in the Pac-12 isn’t a highly realistic objective for anyone not named Oregon or USC.
Doe this mean Utah and BYU should fire their coaches if they don’t succeed this year? BYU stands a decent chance of ending up 6-6 or 7-5, which will make the Cougars bowl eligible. Is that enough?
For 2-2 Utah to reach bowl eligibility will take some major doing. Looking at the Utes’ schedule, they’ll have to play extremely well in some games to finish .500 this year. They could end up 5-7 or 6-6.
Is that OK? What are the expectations? Are Utah and BYU big enough programs to fire coaches who don’t win championships? Or does bowl eligibility decide?
At least at this point, I figure that as long as they’re attending bowls and improving against their schedules, the programs are OK. If they slip into non-bowl land and just exist as mid- to low-level teams, it’s time to reassess.
The key is whether the programs are moving forward.
Are national titles realistic goals? Probably not, with the schedules both teams have. Utah and BYU could make a huge ruckus, back in the days when their conference schedules were relatively easy. Now it’s maybe a longer shot than ever. BYU can beat a Notre Dame, Boise State, Utah, Oregon State or Georgia Tech, but probably not all in the same year. Utah can beat teams in the Pac-12 South, but not all of them in the same season – if the last two years are any indication.
So let’s take a poll to see what the expectations actually are for Utah and BYU: