◆ BYU enters Big-12 play this fall.
This past weekend SVI Radio had a chance to speak with Sam Farnsworth of KSL Television out of Salt Lake City, Utah as part of the Sports Friday show (8am- 9am). Farnsworth commented on the state of the three primary football programs in Utah as well as a look at potential realign- ment.
• Utah Utes: “This is a team that has a lot of talent coming back but also had guys like Clark Philips and Dalton Kincaid move on to the NFL,” Farnsworth stated. “The biggest question is how is the health of Cam Rising. Utah is optimistic that he will be ready but he had a pretty severe knee injury late in the season and this is your team leader so I think the program’s dynamic in their offense changes quite a bit. It is easy to say they will be competing for a conference title again but that could slow down the start of the season. I do think they will be in the mix by the end of the year.”
“Brandon Rose seems to be the future quarterback. Utah had a slow start two years and still played and advanced to the Rose Bowl. That’s one of the good things is those early games don’t hurt you too much. He is a QB to get excited about. He’s done nothing but impress his coaches and he is the future of this team. If they had to go to him early it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
• BYU Cougars: “They have prided themselves on playing anyone which is why they’ve been able to have five and six Power 5 teams on their schedule,” Farnsworth continued. “But by the end of the year you are playing smaller teams and the Power 5 teams don’t want to jump out of conference play. Now that they are in Big 12 conference play they have something to play for but it’s a beefy schedule. But this is what they’ve wanted to a long time. Now they’ve got it. Fans will need to be patient.”
“Guys like Puka Nacua and Jaren Hall are gone to the NFL but BYU has handled the wild world of the transfer portal. They’ve been able to reload big time. The highlight of the transfers is Kedon Slovis at quarterback who played at USC and then at Pitt. How good is he? That’s the biggest question mark. On paper his career has taken a step down every year. Can [passing game coordinator] Aaron Roderick revive him? That’s the big question.”
• Utah State Aggies: “That first year of Blake Anderson they won the conference and went on and won the LA Bowl,” added Farnsworth. “Last year was a completely different team that failed to reach expectations. The biggest challenge USU has faced this offseason has been attrition. So many kids left the program to maybe go make some money somewhere else or strengthen their chance at the NFL. I think Utah State lost 50+ players so they’ve had to reload themselves. It feels like two years ago and they are leaning on Cooper Legas on quarterback and former UW guy Levi Williams; who’s going to win that job? Until they get on the field they really won’t know what they have.”
“Television rights deals are affecting where teams want to play and align their athletic programs,” Farnsworth concluded. “You see USC and UCLA moving to the Big-10 because reportedly they are supposed to pay out a whole lot of money which maybe they can’t reach the number that they’ve promised. But that’s the driver. What conference can we align with that will bring our school the most money.”
For BYU they now have a spot in a conference for a chance to get to the national championship bracket. Utah was already in a good spot. My argument for the Pac- 12 to stay at ten would give your teams a greater chance for the remaining teams to advance to the CFP. It’s a crazy world. Are they going to add SDSU and SMU or are they going to stay at ten? Their television rights deal is kind of a mess which has trickled into the rivalry between Utah and BYU online about who has the better deal. You may see the Pac-12 announce a deal where you probably see a major streaming outlet like Apple TV be a part of that.”