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BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is in the process of unwinding the Cougars’ future football schedules as the school prepares to join the Big 12 conference in 2023.

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates the win over the UCF Knights with athletic director Tom Holmoe the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla., on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. BYU won 49-23.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The numbers are (almost) in: Why this might be the best year for BYU’s overall athletic program in school history

The BYU Cougars rank No. 6 in the country in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings with only one month remaining in the school year

SHARE The numbers are (almost) in: Why this might be the best year for BYU’s overall athletic program in school history
SHARE The numbers are (almost) in: Why this might be the best year for BYU’s overall athletic program in school history

More proof that few schools in the country have handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than BYU — at least from an athletics perspective — came Thursday with the first release of the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings for the 2020-21 school year.

At the completion of the fall and winter sports seasons, which were mostly played in the winter and spring due to the pandemic, the Cougars are No. 6 in the country, with 606.75 points. Perennial champion Stanford leads with 770 points.

The Directors’ Cup awards points based on postseason success; the final standings will be released on July 2 when the spring/summer sports conclude with the College World Series (baseball) championships.

“It has been a remarkable athletic season, in a truly unprecedented time, for BYU athletics,” said Tom Holmoe, BYU director of athletics. “A huge congratulations to our resilient, tough, committed, passionate, fun-loving student-athletes and coaches for all that they were able to accomplish.”

BYU will get more big points in the final standings because its men’s volleyball team was the national runner-up last month to Hawaii in Columbus, Ohio and its women’s softball team played in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to a regional final before losing to Virginia Tech.

“It has been a remarkable athletic season, in a truly unprecedented time, for BYU Athletics. A huge congratulations to our resilient, tough, committed, passionate, fun-loving student-athletes and coaches for all that they were able to accomplish.” — Tom Holmoe

The Cougars are sending 24 entries to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships next week in Eugene, Oregon, and will surely pick up more points there.

BYU finished No. 29 in the 2018-19 standings, its highest finish since 2006-07. BYU’s highest finish ever was in 1998-99, when it came in 12th.

According to a school news release in 2019, BYU has an average final ranking of No. 31 and has posted 13 top-30 finishes.

This year will surely be its 14th. It could be its best ever.

“To be sixth in the nation, among the athletic programs that we are among, is something for all of Cougar Nation to be proud of,” Holmoe said.

Remarkably, BYU was in second place with 349.0 points after the conclusion of the fall sports season. The Cougars’ women’s cross country team picked up 100 points after winning a national championshipin that sport, while the men got 69 points with their seventh-place finish.

BYU’s football team picked up 66 points with its final No. 11 ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 after going 11-1 in 2020.

Its women’s volleyball team got 64 points after making it to the Sweet 16, and its women’s soccer team got 50 points for a 17th-place finish.

The final fall standings had North Carolina in first, with 371 points, and Stanford in third, with 339. The Tar Heels picked up 100 points for a first-place finish in a sport BYU does not have — women’s field hockey — and 83 points in another sport BYU does not have outside of the club level, men’s soccer.

In winter sports, BYU picked up 75 points in basketball (50 in women’s, 25 in men’s), 53 points in women’s gymnastics and 129.75 points in indoor track and field (72 in women’s, 57.75 in men’s).

Among other instate schools, the University of Utah is ranked No. 51, Utah Valley is No. 70, Utah State is No. 77, Southern Utah is No. 93 and Weber State is No. 124.

BYU has been ranked as the state’s top athletic program in every year of the Directors’ Cup’s existence.