We’ve seen this before
In 2000 legendary BYU Football coach Lavell Edwards stepped away from the game after posting a mediocre 6-6 final season. While his legacy is in no way tainted or even thought around his final season, there were some whispers and rumors that maybe Edwards was getting just a little bit too old for the evolving game.
The following season Gary Crowton came in and led the Cougars to an 12-0 start to the season before Luke Staley went down and the Cougars ultimately ended up dropping their last two games. Suddenly fans were fully invested again. Everyone thought that 1980’s were back and BYU would be back as a Top 10 team.
Then the next two seasons happened. The Cougars failed to make another bowl game there were more off the field issues than there were first downs during those two seasons. Had the transfer portal been a thing, surely dozens of players would have left. BYU was in a very dark place.
How does that compare to Mark Pope?
Similarly, Dave Rose, the legendary coach who led BYU and Jimmermania to a Sweet 16 in 2011 suddenly was just posting mediocre results. He resigned and Mark Pope took over. For the first year, and really the first two years BYU appeared to be back to 2011 form. Mark Pope took Roses’ players, along with a few additions, and made BYU Basketball feel as good as it had felt since Jimmermania.
Then this season happened. Injuries, an inability to close out games, and a lack of shot creators led to the Cougars finishing out the season 5-6 with their only wins coming over LMU and Pepperdine.
Next year, the Cougars lose two regular starters, a third consistent starter and as I mentioned I believe Seneca Knight as well. Sure there are some recruits coming in, but nobody right now is looking at next season and saying “Yep, that’s an NCAA team”.
In summary both coaches:
- Took over mediocre programs and had instant success
- Struggled to have success with their recruits
- Head scratching losses after their first seasons
So is it fair to compare the two?