BYU Football can’t just be average in 2021 if they hope to continue trending in the right direction.
Thinking back to the most important seasons for BYU football, of course the most successful ones are the ones that always come to mind 1984, 2001, 1990, and in some circles even 2020. However, those seasons weren’t seen as important when the season began. They became important because of what ended up happening. With all the changes coming in college football, I don’t feel like it is a overstatement to say that 2021 from at least a preseason standpoint will be the most important year in BYU Football history.
There are already rumors and whispers of BYU being potentially interested in joining the AAC conference, TV deals are also starting to come to an end soon meaning that if conferences are going to be shuffling around teams, those conversations will probably start in the upcoming offseason.
While it is impossible to know how much of an effect BYU football having success will change or affect conversations and decisions, BYU needs to be putting themselves in the best position to have even more reason to be invited into a big conference.
The reality is, nobody is talking about Central Michigan, Louisiana-Monroe, or Texas state joining bigger conferences. Granted one could say that their market doesn’t even make sense for it, but then if we look at Boise State (always in discussions), or even TCU (who joined the Big 12) who are not in big markets, it raises a strong argument that dominance in football may be one of the greatest factors in joining the top tier of teams.
Another reason this year is so impactful for BYU football is that they play Utah for the likely the last time (bowl game) until the year 2024. At the moment it feels that BYU is trending in the right direction while Utah is sort of stagnant. A win for BYU would put them in a position to perhaps take the recruiting and momentum in the state for the next three years.
While I do not believe that BYU needs to go undefeated, be ranked in the top 10, or even in the conversation for a New Year’s Six bowl, they they do need to have a winning record against Power 5 programs and must beat Utah. If the Cougars can pull off a 4-3 record against Power 5 teams, beat all of the G5 teams including Boise State, and when their bowl game, they would likely finish ranked with a 10-3 record.
In sports, especially in college the most important thing to do is to keep eyes and attention on your program. Being ranked, and finishing out another year as one of the top three or four G5 teams would go a long way in putting BYU in the best position possible when realignment happens.
As it is, many are pointing to BYU’s week schedule and claiming that the Cougars were just beneficiaries of an extremely weak schedule. They don’t look at margin, the offensive dominance, or the big wins against really good teams like Boise State, San Diego State, and UCF.
If the Cougars have a bad season, the critics would would have a heyday claiming that they were right, the is clearly not a power 5 caliber team, any momentum that the Cougars gained from 2020 would be quickly lost.
In other words, BYU Football can’t even have an average year. They have to have the best regular season excluding 2020 that they have had since 2008. That is a lot of pressure, but it is the reality of things and it will pay huge dividends either way depending on how the season goes.