Despite Heartbreak, BYU Football 2020 Season Remains Special
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – BYU football’s year is still one of the all-time great seasons in Cougar history.
Don’t let anyone tell you different, BYU fans.
Allow for a little perspective.
The position a good majority of you have taken on social media over the last few days is valid — a lot of you, even some here at KSL Sports, have thrown in the towel on the 2020 season, based on the fact your New Year’s Six bowl dreams were dashed in Conway, South Carolina last Saturday.
The loss at Coastal Carolina stings. It was a spotlight game in front of the entire country. It was a chance — THE chance — to kick down the door of those who would keep you out of the club reserved for those that get a $4 million dollar payday.
I understand your despair. However, it’s not all bad. Remind yourselves of the great things you accomplished in 2020.
Holmoe Works Magic For BYU Football
To quote Peter Griffin of Family Guy fame, Tom Holmoe is “some kind of sorcerer“.
If you’ve watched any of BYU’s ESPN-televised games this year, you’ve probably seen the schedule graphic. Like, A LOT. It’s one of ESPN’s favorite things to toss to during a lull in the action. It’s annoying. So here it is one more time to remind you:
BYU’s revised 2020 schedule (ESPN)
Graphic aside, Tom Holmoe deserves a lot of credit for cobbling together a schedule after the Cougars’ original 2020 slate was decimated due to COVID-19. The fact he was able to get, to this point, 11 games for BYU to play is nothing short of remarkable.
This isn’t a statement on the Cougs’ strength of schedule, or lack there-of. Simply getting games to play has been a struggle for everyone else in college football this year, yet here BYU stands, on the precipice of a 10-win season.
Outstanding work from Holmoe. And he even had time to pull off another Halloween costume. Truly a multi-talented AD.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Buses)
The amount of travel has done in a pandemic year has been astounding. In 2020, the Cougars have boarded some type of aircraft, bus or train to the following locations, racking up 6,156 miles in the process:
Boise, Idaho (OK, this one is a little closer than the others…)
Conway, South Carolina
Added to that was the fact that the Cougars were slated to travel an additional 2,207 miles to West Point, New York to play the Army Black Knights, although COVID-19 got in the way of a 12th game for the Cougs this season.
A few weeks back, Zach Wilson sported a now infamous headband touting BYU football’s 2020 mantra. The proof is in the pudding when it comes to the team’s travel schedule — they’ll go anywhere to play a football game. Debate that whole Washington nonsense on your own time.
Yes, he’s a true Heisman contender. The production can (and will continue to be) argued because people will cite the lack of quality opponents, but the numbers Zach Wilson is putting up are impressive.
195/267 (73% completion rate)
27 TD, 3 INT
197.4 passer rating
NFL scouts are drooling over the types of throws Wilson is making, regardless of opponent, and so are NFL fans. Yours truly cheers for the San Francisco 49ers on Sundays. If you think 49ers fans haven’t been clamoring for Wilson, you’d be wrong.
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10 Wins, In A Historical Sense
Despite all the setbacks that college football in a pandemic has presented, BYU is still one game away from 10 wins.
Since netting their first 10+ win season in 1979, BYU has had 16 seasons where they’ve hit the 10-win mark or better. However, they haven’t had one since 2011.
In 2020, the Cougars have had plenty of chances to do what they’ve done over the last decade — slip up against an obviously inferior opponent. This year, there was no 2019 Toledo. There was no 2018 Northern Illinois. There wasn’t a 2017 East Carolina.
Coastal Carolina’s a good team, not some after thought in the Sun Belt.
10 wins in 2020 should be celebrated alongside great seasons like 2006 and 2007, when the Cougars back-t0-back Mountain West championships. It’ll go alongside 2001, 1980, 1983 and 1989.
Is it as glamorous as the 1996 Cotton Bowl year, or that 1984 year that is quite popular among BYU’s fanbase? No, truth be told, it isn’t. However, BYU fans should be proud of this season and these players and coaches.
A Little Personal History
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations. You either really love BYU football or really want to @ me on Twitter.
(@natedowdle, go ahead)
I grew up in Utah. I’ve worked in sports media here for 12 years, and for nearly 20 in my career. I was in the north end zone wearing red as a 15-year old teenager in Rice Stadium, cheering on the Utes during 34-31 part II. I was behind the basket in the south end of the Huntsman Center earlier that year when Robbie Reid hit his 24-foot heave to beat the Utes. Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of BYU.
The reason I put this in there is simple — I want to give context to my remarks. I’m not a “fan-boy” as so many will be quick to call me on Twitter for this piece. I’ve watched a lot of BYU football, both as a fan growing up and as an adult, working in sports media. The story of 2020 BYU football is one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever witnessed. As awesome was the 2004 and 2008 Utah football seasons were, and as amazing as the 2019 Utes accomplishments are, this might be the most compelling college football story from the state in the last 35 years.
The adversity that BYU has faced just to play the 11 games they’ve faced, the way they’ve handled business on the field, and the exposure the team has received this year has been nothing short of program-altering.
And to see how they continue it into 2021 is something we should all look forward to.
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