BYU Football: At 7-6, the Cougars failed to meet their own goals

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /

Every year, organizations set goals.  At year’s end, they revisit them to see how successful they’ve been. Let’s try this practice with the 2018 BYU Football team.

Right now, optimism toward BYU Football is in high supply following the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where the Cougars dismantled Western Michigan 49-18. With most of the team’s major contributors returning next season, there’s definitely reason for excitement.

With a 7-6 record and a bowl victory, BYU football ended up where most analysts and fans felt they would. But if you go by the Cougars’ own goals for the season, expectations were anything but met.

Back in the spring, the program unveiled what they felt were realistic goals for the program. When first revealed, many were skeptical about the declaration, but it was intriguing that coaches might be seeing something that the media was not. It was then that my personal expectations  rose, because why would coaches make such claims if they were utterly impossible?

Lets review each of these goals, and decide how the Cougars did with each:

No. 1 – Become bowl eligible

Of course, BYU football accomplished this task by finishing the regular season at 6-6. It’s worth mentioning that the Cougars also came out victorious in the contest, even though it wasn’t one of their stated goals. So far so good, one for one is a great start!

No. 2 – Beat the rivals

Not only did the Cougars fall short of beating all of their rivals, but they didn’t even beat one of them. After being embarrassed at home against the Aggies, they fell just short on the road to Boise State and the Utes.

Hey, but still, one out of two ain’t bad.  Right?

No. 3 – End the season ranked

Yeah, 7-6 isn’t going to get anybody into the top 25 in any poll.  For this to happen BYU football would have needed at least 2, but probably 3 more wins to crack this group. They did crack the Top 25 for two weeks, though, so there’s that.

And now we’re one for three on the goals for 2018.

No. 4 – Protect LaVell’s house

Home losses to tough teams like Cal and Utah State, along with a head-scratching loss to a mediocre Northern Illinois bunch ended the chance to complete this one. Still, fans were treated to wins over Hawaii, UMass, and New Mexico State.

That brings us to one out of four. I think you’re starting to see where this is going.

No. 5 – New Year’s Six bowl game

More than one loss put this one out of reach early. With the difficulty of the schedule, it’s hard to imagine how even the most optimistic of Head Coaches would have placed such a goal on a plaque that players and the fanbase would see and refer to during each day of the season.

And with that, only one out of five goals were successfully achieved in 2018.

Aiming Too High

Lofty goals are nothing new to college football. No other goal is publicized or ridiculed more than Bronco Mendenhall’s “Quest for Perfection” campaign in 2008. Even though rival Utah had done the same feat just four years earlier, and would eventually do it again that very same year, the media and much of Cougar Nation ate the former coach alive for what they thought was a ridiculous notion.

Some, on the other hand, acknowledge that even though the attempt to go undefeated failed, it was never an unrealistic goal. The Cougars could have done it that year had a few things gone differently.

In contrast, when mentioning the goals that were made preceding 2018, there’s a different story to tell.

I have to admit, before the season I agreed with most fans that a .500 record and bowl eligibility would be adequate signs of progress for the coming season.  But then, when I saw the posted plaque with its encouraging goals, I foolishly changed my expectations.  I felt that Coach Sitake would never place such standards if he didn’t feel confident about making them happen.

I quickly came to the realization that I couldn’t have been more wrong.  And so was BYU Football’s head coach.

Bronco still gets laughed at today for his aspirations in 2008, but he went zero for one that season.  In the same breath, Kalani went one for five this season.  That’s a whopping 20%!

Either Sitake was so far out of touch with his program’s potential that he truly felt they could accomplish these goals even though some were completely unrealistic from the get-go, or he carelessly set goals even though he wasn’t confident that his team could reach them.

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Regardless of which motive applies, not being held accountable for such a miscalculation is a colossal disservice to every member of Cougar Nation. Not only was failing at so many goals unacceptable, it was downright embarrassing.

Should Kalani Sitake lose his job over this issue.  Well, no.  But if claims like these are to be made in the future, then like the old saying goes, ” you better put your money where mouth is”.  BYU Football didn’t in 2018, and for this reason alone, to consider the season a success is unreasonable.

Some fans have lost faith in Coach Sitake’s judgement when it comes to goal-setting. To a certain extent, their trust is wavering. But it’s not their trust that he needs to gain back. It’s that of each and every player that drafted those goals before the season started.

Not reaching the expectations of leaders on a regular basis is detrimental for an organization, and leads to a lack in the credibility of that leadership.  The bottom line, for goals to be anything other than optimistic phases posted on a wall, the majority of them are going to have to start being accomplished.