BYU carries a 1-2 record – with the losses coming by a total of three points – into Saturday’s game against West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The game has some added buzz because it pits a Big 12 wannabe against a Big 12 school.
“They have been pretty adamant about wanting into the league,” said Dana Holgorsen, whose Mountaineers are 2-0. “No secret that they’re trying to get into the Big 12, which is probably going to give them a little extra motivation.”
Hogwash and poppycock, according to the Cougars’ first-year coach Kalani Sitake, whose team has been struggling on offense.
“That doesn’t add anything [to the game],” Sitake said about the Big 12 expansion discussions. “I am not worried about anything other than West Virginia, a well-coached team. They got some momentum. They are coming off a bye. We are focused on the opponent, not worried about all the politics and everything behind it. That has not even entered our minds.”
As Holgorsen pointed out, the BYU-WVU series was scheduled in 2010, two years before the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.
The Cougars, one of four FBS independents, have been disappointing because of an ineffective offense. BYU ranks 119th in scoring (17 points per game), 119th in passing efficiency, 107th in rushing offense, 105th in total offense, and 124th in passing yards per completion.
Former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner, is in his first season as a collegiate offensive coordinator. Veteran quarterback Taysom Hill has struggled to generate a spark. Sophomore Tanner Mangum, who went 8-4 last season replacing an injured Hill, is an option, but Sitake has said Hill will start against the Mountaineers.
“It would be foolish right now to make [Hill] the scapegoat, when it wasn’t all his fault,” Sitake said. “That is a wrong assessment from a lot of different people. Talking about Taysom, the worst thing you could do is panic, and make a change on stuff that you are just seeing on the field, when it is not, actually, just that one spot. There are a lot of variables that go into it – protection, routes and timing.”
Public displays of affection
Houston coach Tom Herman is gaining plenty of attention. He’s won 16 of his 17 games as a head coach and the Cougars are poised to be gate crashers at the College Football Playoffs.
He’s also not ashamed to kiss his players.
“As they’re coming into the locker room on game day, I kiss our guys a lot,” Herman said.
“I grew up, my mom’s side of the family is Italian. I grew up kissing my uncles. Men that love men in a fatherly way, hugs and kisses in our society for some reason have been deemed soft. There needs to be more hugs and kisses by men that love men in that kind of way.
“I know a lot of these guys. A lot tell me, ‘Coach, that’s the first time a man’s ever kissed me,’ because a lot of these guys don’t have dads, don’t have father figures in their lives. A big two-handed bear hug and a kiss on the cheek and telling them you love them as they get ready to do battle for you goes a long way.”
- Our condolences to Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, whose mother Olive passed away at the age of 87 Saturday. When the Bearcats played Houston last Thursday, Tuberville was coaching with the knowledge that his visit with his mother two days earlier would probably be the last time he saw her. She had been afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease for the past two years.
- Thanks to the Mountain West Conference television contract, Boise State is making bank. The Broncos’ home game with Utah State will be televised on ESPN2, and that means $500,000 for Boise State. The school will earn at least $1.9 million from telecasts.
- When TCU visits SMU Friday to play for the Iron Skillet, the Mustangs are honoring the Dallas Police Department, which lost five of its officers in a downtown ambush last July. SMU will wear helmets that have a modified version of the pony logo that includes the skyline of the city of Dallas.
- Central Michigan student Joshua Scramlin has started a petition to convince ESPN’s College GameDay to visit Mount Pleasant for the Chippewas’ game with Western Michigan on Oct. 1. Western Michigan is 3-0, with two wins over Big Ten schools, Northwestern and Illinois. Central Michigan also is 3-0, including a stunning victory over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State on the road. GameDay’s only appearance at a Mid-American Conference game was in 2003 when Northern Illinois played at Bowling Green.
- Three Group of Five teams – Eastern Michigan, New Mexico State and Nevada – are the only teams that have not fumbled, let alone lost a fumble.
- Nevada carries a 6-30 record against Power Five schools into Saturday’s game at Purdue. The school has been at the FBS level since 1992. The Wolf Pack’s last victory over a Power Five team came in 2014 against Washington State.
The last word
San Diego State coach Rocky Long on senior running back Donnel Pumphrey (5-foot-9 180 pounds), who leads the nation in rushing and has broken Marshall Faulk’s career rushing record:
“Any good running back you’ve ever seen, he’s got all the traits. He’s not very big; that’s the one downside. But he runs big. Ask him about his pass protection, he put some of those big defensive ends right on their facemask. He does everything. He catches the ball well, he runs with it well, he blocks well, he does everything. The best part about it is that he’s a team guy first.”