BYU Cougars: Athletics among nation’s best

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to sports, there are few universities that perform across a broad spectrum like the BYU Cougars. Ranked teams, national contenders, winning programs, and all-Americans litter the landscape. Now that nearly all these sports are on their summer break until bursting back on the scene in the fall, it’s time to look back and appreciate.

For some fans of the BYU Cougars, it’s all about the football and basketball.

And in a sense, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is no problem with liking what you like, and picking favorites. But even if you love Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Bishop’s Bash, there’s no need to consign yourself to just those flavors the rest of your life.

After all, Brigham Young University athletics offer so much more.

Yes, the flagship sports have done well carrying the banner for BYU. Football and basketball haven’t had losing seasons since 2004. They’ve racked up a bundle of conference titles and a long succession of postseason appearances in that time.

Top ranked teams fell to the Cougs. All-Americans and Players of the Year walked in their ranks. Not every year is magical, but there’s no doubt that success was had on the court and the gridiron.

But that success has been matched, and in some cases exceeded, on the pitch, the track, the field, and in the park. This last season was no different.

Fall Sports Review

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Women’s volleyball and women’s soccer have established themselves as consistent national powers. Both sports are have made unprecedented runs of WCC championships and Sweet 16 appearances.

Soccer’s domination has been running longer (they had two players drafted in the top 11 of the WMLS Draft), but volleyball is a program on the rise. A newly refinished Smith Fieldhouse will be the home the nation’s 13th ranked recruiting class coming this fall.

Neither squad shows any sign of slowing down.

Football turned in a respectable 9-4 record under first-year head coach Kalani Sitake, ending the season with a fitting bowl game win. Independent schedules aren’t for the faint of heart, and the Cougars were in every single game (except for maybe one).

With a bolstered O-line and exciting home slate, the Cougs seem like they will do as well, if not better, this fall.

Winter Sports Review

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

Men’s basketball fell short of what fans heaped on them, and didn’t finish the season how they would like. But 22 wins, including one over the nation’s top-ranked, undefeated team is not a down year. Still, with some offseason changes, there’s more than a small chance for improvement. 

Even with the breakup of everyone’s favorite boy band-named group.

Women’s basketball still vies for conference titles every year under Jeff Judkins. Cassie Broadhead continued a streak of Cougar conference Players of the Year, with Kalani Purcell taking home the DPOY. This next year, another Hamson will suit up for the Y.

That worked out pretty well last time.

Spring Sports Review

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Men’s volleyball continues to threaten as a national contender, even if they haven’t gotten the Ohio State monkey off their back just yet. Former Cougs are populating national squads left and right. The talent that had to wait on the bench would have started many teams.

Softball has forgotten how to lose a conference title, and McKenna Bull just pitched one of the best seasons in BYU history. Baseball has revived under coach Mike Littlewood. The Cougars took the conference tournament title in dramatic fashion, and made a regional for the first time in 15 years.

Track and Field had 15 athletes qualify for nationals, including a husband-and-wife steeplechase duo and a national contender in 800 m runner Shea Collinsworth. Don’t be surprised if more than a few all-Americans emerge from the Cougars ranks this week.

And those are just the NCAA sports. Rugby and lacrosse were both title contenders (both men’s and women’s, in both sports) and men’s soccer holds it’s own despite being the only college team in the semi-professional PDL league.

Put it all together, and the BYU Cougars stand as the 20th ranked athletic program in the Learfield Directors’ Cup Standings. That’s ahead of schools like Oklahoma (22), Alabama (28), Duke (35) and Utah (39).

The BYU Cougars are doing just fine.  And there are no signs of stopping.