The bye week is here—or as it is better known—the worst season of the year for any college football fan.
While BYU fans will be depressed that there is no game this weekend, the bye week came at the right time for the BYU players. The Cougars are fighting off nagging injuries, and they are also awaiting the return of the deep threat receiver McKay Jacobson. BYU will also use the bye week to make some needed changes in both offensive and defensive schemes.
The bye week is just one example of an element in college football which is looked upon differently by players and fans.
The remainder of the BYU season is an interesting problem for BYU fans. What hope does the average BYU fan have for the rest of the season?
Before the start of the season there are three major goals for any BYU team. First, make a BCS bowl game. Second, win a conference championship. Third, beat Utah.
While many inside the BYU football program would argue that they put the conference championship ahead of the BCS birth, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which BYU could make a BCS game without winning the conference. So if the team makes the first goal, then they will surely have the second.
After two embarrassing home losses not only is the football players left wondering what went wrong, but BYU fans are searching for answers also. This season is it clear the BCS is out of reach for BYU, but BYU could still fulfill their second goal of a conference championship.
For BYU fans it might be counterproductive to cheer for a conference championship this season. Why? Under the current BCS system it is more important for the conference to have some type of BCS representation in a bowl game than for BYU to win a mediocre conference.
At 6-2 there is little for BYU fans to cheer about. Looking ahead there is also little to no upside left in the season. Here are a few scenarios for how the rest of the season will play out for BYU.
Scenario One—BYU loses to Utah.
In this scenario it doesn’t matter what other teams do. BYU would still play in a bowl game, most definitely the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl. Yet, the season is a waste from the point of view of any BYU football fan.
Beating Utah is now an absolute requirement for any redemption this season for BYU.
Scenario Two—BYU wins out, and TCU loses to Utah.
This is the scenario in which BYU would get a piece of the conference title. It really is like winning a battle and losing a war for any BYU fan. There would be joy over another conference title; however, it would mean the Mountain West Conference would fall further behind in their hopes of securing an automatic BCS bowl berth in the future.
BYU would most likely not go to the Vegas Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl has indicated that they want to select a team other than BYU this season. Their reasoning is they don’t want the bowl game to turn into the BYU bowl (although looking back at what BYU did for the Holiday Bowl, maybe having BYU and a sellout crowd every year is a good thing?).
BYU would go to the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl, and face either a terrible PAC-10 team or a bad WAC team. A game where there would be nothing to prove, and everything to lose.
Scenario Three – BYU and TCU wins out (sadly the best case scenario).
While BYU fans will celebrate another victory over the Utes, but BYU will finish second in the conference. TCU will play in a BCS bowl game. The conference will get more national attention, and the entire conference will be pulling for a Horned Frog victory.
BYU will be stuck in either the Las Vegas Bowl or San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl. Both bowls would be played before Christmas, and both would most likely feature a PAC-10 team who is barely bowl eligible.
In other words the rest of the season for BYU, minus the Utah game, would be games in which there is nothing to gain for BYU. The Cougars would be favored in every other game they play this season, and would have to win the games simply to save face.
This is the best case scenario because there is a slight glimmer of hope for a decent bowl game. If BYU goes to the Poinsettia Bowl they could be paired with a jaded Boise State team.
This would occur if TCU is the only non-automatic BCS conference who is invited to a BCS game, and the PAC-10 get two BCS bowl berths. This would leave a slot open in the Poinsettia Bowl, and leave Boise State looking for a place to play. The Broncos would make a second straight trip to San Diego, and play the second best team in the Mountain West again.
The Poinsettia Bowl would be arguably the best non-BCS bowl game again for a second straight year, and both the WAC and MWC conference would benefit from the exposure.
This game would also give BYU one final chance to gain redemption in the eyes of the national media, and also demonstrate that the BCS was correct in taking TCU over Boise State.
Scenario Four—BYU loses to Utah, Utah beats TCU, Oregon wins out, Cincinnati and Boise State lose (worst case scenario).
There is still a chance for Utah to make it back to BCS bowl game. If this scenario plays out it might require many BYU fans to check into grief counseling, and many will have to be talked off of ledges.
Utah could fly under the radar, win-out, and be the first non-automatic qualifying team to have a loss and still make it into a BCS bowl. If this scenario plays out Utah would be the highest non-automatic qualifying team, and they would finish ahead of the Big East champion. The Utes would be guaranteed a BCS bowl.
BYU on the other hand would go back to playing in the Poinsettia Bowl, against a terrible opponent. BYU would then be three BCS bowl games behind the hated Utes. If this scenario played out truly Provo would turn into Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s Mudville, and the mighty 2009 Cougars would have struck out.
It is a long shot for BYU to get a bowl game which would mean anything. The Utah game is the only thing left which matters for BYU fans.
The current BCS system has made the rest of BYU’s regular season, outside of the Utah game, pointless. No longer can fans from a non-automatic qualifying conference simply cheer for their team to play well. Now fans must think about what their team can do to help out the conferences future.
Fans must now cheer for hated rivals to play well every week. There is no more bitter salt for the wounds opened in BYU fans than to force them to cheer on the Horned Frogs for the remainder of the season.
The BCS system might force BYU fans once again to ask themselves is it better for BYU to win, or for Utah to represent the conference in a BCS bowl game? Only in a BCS world could a team actually be penalized by beating their rival.
Just another example of how the BCS is ruining the regular season of college football.