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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Dick Harmon: Here's a primer for BYU football media day Monday

By Dick Harmon, Deseret News

Published: Mon, June 23 8:25 a.m. MDT

 The BYU Football defensive staff participates in 2013 BYU Football Media Day.

The BYU Football defensive staff participates in 2013 BYU Football Media Day.

(Jaren Wilkey, BYU)

Suddenly, there’s an oasis in sight; a football trough we can all drink from in the lazy days of summer.

BYU’s football media day on Monday comes way too early, but perhaps just in time when one considers the drought of actual conversations with players and coaches.

It’s a time to mine information and avoid talking points. It’s a time to wade through preseason hype and uncover useful information. In other words, it will be a typical media day sans the Pac-12, MWC or Big 12 crowd.

The Cougars do this a month before anybody else, weeks before the Pac-12, Mountain West, Big 12 and other leagues. Why? Because as an independent, it’s their show and they’ll do it whenever they want to. Plus, because it’s a single school show and attracts a number of national sports experts, one could call it BYU’s day in the light of a solo sun.

Perhaps by design — or not — Monday officially kicks off college football talk in a formal way both locally and nationally.

Specifically, it is scheduled after BYU finishes some of its summer camps, junior days, most of its offseason recruiting and, ultimately, when Bronco Mendenhall has completed his first actual marathon but has yet to go on his summer surfing binge.

Here’s a preview of some key issues that could be discussed with our staff members in attendance:

— Is BYU prepared to operate with the same autonomy that Power Five conferences have asked for (less restrictive regulations that will cost more money)?

— Will the program have a scheduling agreement with the Pac-12 and Big 12 either formally or informally to put weight into independent scheduling?

— Since the Pac-12 has loosened non-conference late season scheduling, could we get BYU-Utah changed to November where it belongs as the rivalry resumes?

— From summer workouts, how is quarterback Taysom Hill’s progress measured? Specifically in terms of accuracy and timing, how is his chemistry with new transfer and freshman receivers?

— Some media have hinted that an NCAA investigation into improper benefits might bring an impending Armageddon to the program. What’s this all about and how does it differ from dozens of self-reported infractions that take place every semester?

— This is Year Two of offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s restaffing and rebuilding of BYU’s offense. What is his state of the offense report?

— How will BYU’s offensive line fare in 2014 and what are the working parts?

— What is the status of newcomers who might be at risk finishing classes and posting grades?

— What returning missionaries are projected to have an impact in fall drills and perhaps the season besides the Jorgensen twins? What is the breakdown of each position group since spring practice?

— What is the status of injured players, including receivers Mitch Matthews and Ross Apo?

— Did recent aggressive comments about Big 12 inclusion by Bronco Mendenhall to a Texas newspaper signal a different posture to independence given the current playoff system? Now the BCS system has been replaced by a four-team playoff, what challenges does BYU face with no conference affiliation and how does the school hope to overcome hurdles?

— Who will be the on-field vocal leaders on a team that some believe struggled with those roles a year ago during an eight-win season?

— What will be the “surprise” nugget BYU likes to drop at this summer media event? After all, if we all come to the trough, it would be nice to have somebody throw out some feed.

— What will be the impact of new university President Kevin Worthen, who replaced Cecil O. Samuelson? What approaches to athletics will remain the same and which may evolve with a different personality at the helm?

So, Monday, let us come to the media table for the one-on-ones. Let’s get this started.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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Lafe Peavler
June 23, 2014
Recommended
1. Taysom4Heisman
Heber City, UT,
June 21, 2014

I'm looking for a couple things:

1) An update on the investigation. The violations were most likely pretty minor and won't cost us scholarships, but who knows if recruits could be turned away by a possible punishment down the road? Hopefully BYU can end this once and for all on Monday. It can only help BYU to quickly get this thing out of the way.

2) I can almost guarantee that BYU will announce a series with a big time program. Last year it was USC. If I remember correctly, Nebraska, Michigan, Stanford, and Wisconsin were all announced on a media day, some in 2011 and some in 2012. It may have been a different time of year that some were announced, but I remember USC last year for sure. There's a chance we hear more details on our Notre Dame series too.

3) Anything about our relationship with the Big 12. And I don't want to hear "we want to be in the Big 12". I want to hear BYU's chances of making it in, or of getting a scheduling agreement.

2. hedgehog
Ann Arbor, MI,
June 22, 2014

"The violations were most likely pretty minor and won't cost us scholarships"

tyson4hisman

Where did you read this? Cougarboard? Until the NCAA comes back with a verdict the penalty can range from a public slap on the wrist to the death penalty.

If your a bYu recruit, it's just another reason to shy away from this program.

3. Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
June 22, 2014

ND, Army, and BYU will be the only 3 independent teams (this year? or next?)

Therefore, all other teams are in a conference. For those teams out of conference games serve several purposes. Primarily: opportunity to prepare for conference; Also a chance to play a variety of teams not in conference. This allows for variety both in teams played and location.

As members of the PAC-12, Utah is able to schedule three non conference games each year. This years schedule is perfect. The first three games are against non-conference foes. Idaho State should allow us to play many combinations of players and test our new offensive scheme. Fresno State - series is 5wins 4 losses for Utah and last played 15 years ago. Michigan - the big house and a true test! Then we're into conference - and what a November! Oregon in RES. Stanford away; Arizona in RES; and Colorado away.

BYU? Perfect to play every 3 or 4 or 5 years in preseason. They are a great opponent for us to get ready for conference.

4. Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
June 22, 2014

@Taysom4Heisman

I believe the Nebraska announcement in 2/12 was when Nebraska announced they had scheduled four opening game opponents. As I recall they were: Florida Atlantic, BYU, Fresno State, and So. Alabama. (I believe their 2013 opening opponent (Wyoming) was already scheduled.) Almost a SEC schedule.

5. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
June 22, 2014

I look forward to hearing the answers to these questions in future articles. I might include a couple of follow-ups:

1. What is on the table in negotiations to enter a major conference. I presume playing on Sunday is out. Are television rights, especially the right to rebroadcast home games on your own network, untouchable as well?

2. Is Independence still a viable option in the current landscape of college sports or is it dependent on the P5 granting BYU the same type of status they give to Notre Dame?

3. The worst kept secret in the NCAA is that many athletes receive "impermissible benefits" - often just to get by economically. What is BYU's position on increasing benefits to student athletes that pays the true cost of going to school?

4. Will there be a long-term contract with Utah for the "rivalry game" or will it continue to be negotiated two or three years at a time with no game at all sometimes?