Is the glass half full or half empty? It depends on who you ask and the mood they are in. The same debate carries over into BYU sports with significant separations between the optimist, the pessimist and the realist — all equally passionate about their convictions and terribly stubborn.
Where do you stand?
The BYU football coach is a hot topic when it comes to other Power Five programs searching for a new head coach, including but not excluding, USC, Washington, Washington State, etc.
Optimist: Sitake loves BYU and would never leave. He’s a culture guy and the environment he is in is thriving. Recruits are coming. The Big 12 is coming. I’m sure BYU will come to an agreement to give him and his staff the significant pay raises they deserve. All is well. Nothing to see here.
Pessimist: BYU won’t pay fair market money for coaches like Kalani and basketball coach Mark Pope and their staffs and they are sure to lose them. It’s just a matter of time. Big 12 money is still two years away. Kalani will leave us, and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.
Realist: Sitake has earned a pay raise and a contract extension. He has also earned, by virtue of joining the Big 12, the right to seek more money for his staff, the right to hire more staffers, and the right receive additional benefits. It is not a budget funded by the widow’s mite, but big money donors and Big 12 television contracts. He does not want to leave BYU. The Cougars don’t want him to leave, and even while they might stumble through the process, both sides will reach an agreement. If not, Kalani could very easily end up as the new head coach of the other P5 program in the state — and sooner than you might think.
Optimist: Allgeier has rushed for 1,162 yards this season and leads the nation with 17 rushing touchdowns. He is a terrific teammate and that play he made against Arizona State when he forced a fumble to save the game should have NFL scouts salivating over his athleticism. The former linebacker is tough as nails.
Pessimist: He’s good but he’d be better off returning. There are a handful of other running backs that are projected to go ahead of him in the NFL draft.
Realist: If Tyler is projected to be drafted high enough to have a good chance at making an NFL roster and earn enough to support his mom and family, then he should go. If not, he should return for his junior year and make a run at the Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award and prepare for the 2023 draft with games against Notre Dame, Oregon, Baylor and Arkansas.
BYU-Utah talent gap
Optimist: As was proven on Sept. 11, there is no talent gap between BYU and Utah. The Cougars won in every phase of the game, including the coveted line of scrimmage. Both teams are full of quality players. There may have been a time when a separation in talent was noticeable, but not anymore.
Realist: The Cougars outplayed Utah on Sept. 11 and set the tone for future battles as P5 programs. The Utes have had a nice run, just as BYU had several times over the course of the rivalry. Both programs have excellent coaches, they win a lot of games and put players in the NFL. After a two-year break from competition, the slate will be clean in 2024 when BYU and Utah meet as equal P5 opponents for the first time.
Boise State loss
Optimist: BYU players learned that if they aren’t focused and turn the ball over, they can lose to anyone like they did to the Broncos 26-17 on Sept. 9. The loss has helped them progress and get better.
Pessimist: The defeat to Boise State is what’s keeping BYU out of the New Year’s Six conversation. Terrible loss.
Realist: BYU is in a rebuilding year with a new quarterback. There was no expectation for perfection, but the Cougars hot start changed media and fan perception. Suddenly, all the hopes and dreams of a big-money bowl appeared very much in play, even as an independent. The loss to Boise State was a reality check that this team still has a ways to go, as Baylor confirmed a week later.
Notre Dame in Vegas
Optimist: Las Vegas is a great place for this matchup of heavyweights. The number of Cougar fans that showed up for the Arizona game is evidence enough that a sellout will be on hand on Oct. 8, 2022, and it will be a memorable night.
Pessimist: Notre Dame owed BYU a home game and the Cougars should have forced their hand to come to Provo instead of Las Vegas. It’s not fair to season ticket holders.
Realist: Getting the Notre Dame game is a nice way to wrap up BYU’s 12 years as an independent. Playing on NBC is a rarity too. It’s better to face Notre Dame on its terms in a venue friendly to BYU fans, as opposed to receiving a buyout check and playing someone else.
BYU in the Big 12
Optimist: Finally! BYU gets to sit at the adult table and play in a league that has access to better competition, bigger bowl games and the College Football Playoff and receiving the necessary funding to recruit and get better.
Pessimist: The Cougars are going to lose their ESPN contract and ability to set their own schedule. Plus, the Big 12 will be no picnic. Fans should brace for some tough sledding.
Realist: BYU didn’t go independent to remain an independent. It was always with the goal of getting invited into a P5. It took 11 years, but the time has arrived. The Cougars have been preparing for over a decade in all sports. Joining the Big 12 is a game-changer for BYU athletics, BYUtv, and even for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding its footprint in middle America.
BYU at Georgia Southern
Optimist: The Cougars play in Georgia for just the fourth time, giving fans in the south an opportunity to watch them in person. We will sell out their stadium and turn it into another home game. Plus, this is a good tuneup for the regular season finale at USC, where a big win in Los Angeles may push BYU into a better bowl game.
Pessimist: Why is BYU playing this game in November? It will do nothing for their CFP ranking. If you are going to play a team like this, why not schedule someone closer than Statesboro, Georgia?
Realist: This is probably the last time BYU football will ever play a game like this. The Big 12 schedule will leave the Cougars with three or four nonconference opponents to schedule each year instead of 12 as an independent. BYU has needed teams like Georgia Southern to be willing to play them in November, and here we are.
Whether it’s talk radio, podcasts, live television, social media or newspaper articles, one thing is for certain, when it comes to sports, the debate over whether the glass is half full or half empty will never be won. But the ironic thing is despite the divisiveness it creates, it also unifies and brings optimists, pessimists and realists together, often sitting side by side, watching the same game through very different eyes.
Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “After Further Review,” co-host for “Countdown to Kickoff” and the “Postgame Show” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv.