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BYU Football Considered Second-Tier Job Among Group Of 5 Programs

Jun 10, 2020, 12:52 PM
Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...
BYU Football head coach Kalani Sitake (Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)
(Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football has a rich history of success over the last 50 years. But is history enough to be considered a great destination to coach? Not according to ESPN.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, a national college football writer, published a piece ranking the most attractive coaching jobs among the Group of 5 in college football. The jobs were ranked by tiers and included BYU.

BYU landed in tier 2 behind the likes of Boise State, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF who were in the Group of 5’s “Tier 1.” Here’s Rittenberg’s writeup explaining BYU as a Tier-2 job among the Group of 5 programs.

In terms of history, fan support and program infrastructure, BYU rates at the top of the Group of 5 jobs. BYU’s average attendance of 59,547 in 2019 ranked 22nd nationally, by far the highest in the Group of 5. The big drawback is BYU’s independent status, which creates odd schedules and limited team goals. Coaches’ salaries have been an issue before.

There are some intriguing points made here, starting with Independence. The status of Independence through nearly a decade has been a mixed bag of results. BYU is making more money as an institution and it’s resulted in some of the most expensive coaching staff’s the program has ever assembled according to athletic director Tom Holmoe.

But has Independence created a situation where it’s hard for BYU players to find motivation every week? There were reports of BYU players not “being up” for some games last year, including the Hawaii Bowl against the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. A game that BYU lost.

On the flip side, Independence has allowed BYU to play some of college football’s most storied programs. Opportunities that didn’t come around often when BYU was a member of the Mountain West Conference or Western Athletic Conference prior to that.

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake is 27-25 through four seasons with the Cougars. 2020 will be the first year of his new four-year contract extension that he received last November.

Since becoming an Independent program in 2011, BYU has posted an 8-6 record against the Tier 1 programs. Including a victory over Boise State last year which gave the Broncos their only regular-season setback in 2019.

As Rittenberg noted, the infrastructure for BYU is there to be among the top tier of jobs for programs outside of the Power 5 conferences. The key now will be to start winning football games at a consistent clip. All of the programs listed in Rittienberg’s Tier 1 have had 11-plus win seasons since the formation of the College Football Playoff in 2014. BYU’s last 11-win season was in 2009.

The 2009 season doesn’t seem like it was long ago. But then you start thinking about it and you realize that recruits who are in the upcoming 2021 class were only six or seven years old in 2009. BYU hasn’t had the big seasons as the programs listed above them.

But in terms of fan support, stability as a program navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and history, BYU is second to likely no one in the Group of Five.

This fall BYU faces six Power Five programs along with games against a pair of Tier 1 Group of Five’s in Boise State and Houston. BYU opens the 2020 season against Utah in Salt Lake City on September 3rd.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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