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BYU climbs into top 10 sports programs

It’s possible that BYU could finish in the top 10 in the Directors’ Cup in a few weeks

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe hugs Football coach Kalani Sitake to celebrate a win at the Boca Raton Bowl. They are wearing black masks and are on a football field.
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
This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

The NACDA Directors’ Cup standings took a break during COVID-19 but resumed in the fall of 2020, where BYU ranked No. 2 behind North Carolina.

Of course, this fall was unusual because the Pac 12, Big Ten, MWC and other conferences did not have full football seasons and postponed many fall sports to the winter and spring. Even in this unusual season, BYU will take a strong leap forward when all NCAA sports conclude with the national championship in track and field in Eugene, Oregon. There, BYU could finish in the top 10 and perhaps top five in both men’s and women’s events.

This is a tip of the hat to Tom Holmoe and the work he did in getting BYU’s sports programs up and running continually through the pandemic. It may be the best sports year in BYU history. Other schools shied away with defensive positions, but BYU took the precautions, obeyed protocols and went forward. The result was a No. 11 ranking in football and an invitation to the NCAA basketball tournament.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that BYU could finish in the top 10 in the Directors’ Cup in a few weeks if the NACDA decides to post its rankings. There is some discussion that the NACDA won’t rank spring sports, but we will see. The NACDA is the official organization of the nation’s collegiate athletic directors.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: BYU stands to finish the highest in the Directors’ Cup standings for athletic supremacy in the NCAA in 25 years when final rankings come out this summer. Is this important? Do people really care?

Jay Drew: I’ve followed the Directors’ Cup standings for several years now and reported on them here and there. I find them really interesting because I think they are as good of a gauge as any on a school’s all-around athletic program.

Obviously, BYU has an outstanding overall program, evidenced by how well the Cougars do in the standings every year. But ask the casual fan about the top athletic programs in the country, and rarely will they mention BYU.

Why?

It’s all about football and basketball, baby. Those are the cold, hard facts. And in those two sports, BYU is not a top-six program, as it is in the Directors’ Cup. Will the Cougars ever get there? Not as long as they don’t belong to a Power Five conference. Too many obstacles to overcome.

That said, BYU fans should be proud that they cheer for arguably the top non-Power Five program in the country. It’s just that they would probably have a national championship in football or basketball than 10 national titles in the other sports.

That’s just the way it is in college sports.

Dick Harmon: The Directors’ Cup is a gauge of the competitiveness and success of all athletic programs with all their sports. Those who field well-rounded successful teams in multiple sports rank high. You can get a lot of points from soccer, baseball, golf, and track and field as well as the big two (football and basketball). That BYU will finish in the top 10 this year is a big deal in my book because it shows how effective Tom Holmoe was.

It is true BYU struggles to be a top 10 team in football and basketball, but all but about 15 programs in the country also have the same struggle. It comes down to recruiting and it is easier to recruit to some programs than others. I think with BYU’s restrictions and the honor code, it competes at an impressively high level in almost all sports. When football can finish ranked or basketball can make it to the NCAA Tournament, that is a big success checkmark in my book. To expect otherwise is a little delusional.

This is why, when you see BYU’s women’s and men’s track and field programs finish very high on June 12 in the national championships in Eugene, mark it up as a huge accomplishment with outstanding recruiting and coaching. They are for real.

Does it matter? You can bet it matters to Tom Holmoe when he is up for review with his bosses and the board of trustees.

Cougar tales

For more than three decades, BYU football coaches have used the first week of June to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation Utah-Idaho chapter by playing golf. It’s been spirited and fun. It was a little strained with Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall; they weren’t golfers and didn’t really warm up to one another, but they still participated. Things have evolved and now Whittingham and Kalani Sitake have taken it to a different chapter. Here is Jay Drew’s report on the latest installment of what this event has become.

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

Fanalyst

Utah’s men only earned points in ONE sport, swimming.

BYU’s men earned points in the TWO most watched sports, football and men’s basketball, plus several other sports.

BYU’s men also earned an individual National Championship in Cross-Country and BYU had the 2nd player chosen in the NFL 2021 NFL draft.

BYU has owned Utah in basketball for the last 15 seasons, and has FOUR times as many Top 15 finishes in football in the last 15 seasons.

Despite the shrill denials, BYU owns U in overall athletic achievement.

— BlueCoug

Up next

June 12-15 | TBA | NCAA Track & Field Championships | @ Eugene, Oregon

June 17 | TBA | BYU football media day | BYUtv