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During the BYU Football/Basketball off-season, I'll occasionally take us on a trip down memory lane by going to the "Cougar Tracks" archives and re-posting entries that may seem particularly resonant, for whatever reason.
I've made just under 1,350 blog entries since I started writing "Cougar Tracks," so we have some material from which to choose.
I was recently giving a work-related presentation in which I illustrated mentioned BYU's current run of success under head coaches Bronco Mendenhall and Dave Rose, overseen by AD Tom Holmoe and President Samuelson.
It reminded me of a posting I wrote more than three years ago, entitled "A New Golden Era?" It ran in February of 2008, so all of the numbers cited within are of course out-of-date, but the overall feel of the piece holds its age quite well, I think.
So, let's flash back to more than three years ago, as we visit the vault.
"A New Golden Era?"
Taken from "Cougar Tracks" on February 8th, 2008.
What do these dates mean to you?
September 9, 2003
December 13, 2004
March 1, 2005
April 11, 2005
I'll give you a few seconds...
...okay, I'm sure many of you figured it out. The above dates are significant because they represent events that, in a 17-month span, charted a course for BYU Athletics that has resulted in unprecedented success, and might perhaps signal another "Golden Era" in Cougar sports.
September 9, 2003: Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson is inaugurated as the President of Brigham Young University.
December 13, 2004: Bronco Mendenhall is hired as Head Football Coach.
March 1, 2005: Tom Holmoe is appointed Director of Athletics.
April, 11, 2005: Dave Rose is hired as Head Basketball Coach.
The four men listed collectively form the power structure that in a relatively short period of time, has re-elevated BYU to top of the pack in the Mountain West Conference and established national credentials that have been years in recovering. Each of them brought to the table a uniquely useful background, vision, competitive zeal and set of tactical skills, and the by-product of their efforts has been striking in both its speed of occurrence and level of success.
Bronco Mendenhall has the best record of all coaches who began their first FBS head coaching job in the 2005 season. His 28-10 mark is four games better than that of Kyle Whittingham, and 6 games better than that of Charlie Weis.
Bronco is the first coach to lead BYU to three bowl appearances in his first three seasons.
Bronco's team is 22-4 in its last 26 games, and owns the nation's longest current winning streak. The Cougars own conference records for winning streaks at home, on the road, and overall.
BYU under Bronco is one of only 8 teams nationally to end each of the last two seasons in the USA Today Coach's Poll top 15. BYU finished 16th in the final 2006 AP poll, 14th in the final AP poll of 2007.
Dave Rose has the best record of all coaches who received their first Division 1 head coaching jobs starting with the 2005-06 season. His 62-23 record is 5 games better than the coach in second place.
Rose is second only to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee among all coaches who started a new Division 1 job in 2005-06. Pearl's record is 66-21, or 3 games better than Rose.
Rose has a remarkable 80% win rate in Mountain West Conference play (32-8). He is the only coach in the league yet to lose back-to-back league games at any point during his tenture.
Rose has yet to lose a conference game at home (20-0).
Additionally, Mendenhall and Rose have combined to win 3 conference "Coach of the Year" awards in the 5 seasons in which they were eligible (Rose in 2006 and 2007; Mendenhall in 2006).
Since taking over, both coaches have led their teams to a point at which both programs now own the best conference records in the history of the MWC.
I could go on and on with other statistical minutiae, but it is clear that no other school in the country can lay claim to two coaching moves that happened almost simultaneously and brought with them the kind of results BYU has achieved. When you step back and see where the Cougars were 4 years ago and where they are now, the achievements are stunning.
The leadership of Pres. Samuelson and Holmoe, while not as quantifiable, has been equally as important. While there are many other accomplishments to tout, both men have been instrumental (along with several key donors) in efforts to establish endowments that will increase the funds available to pay and retain Mendenhall and Rose for years to come.
(by the way, Pres. Samuelson is visible at many sporting events, and both he and his wife Sharon have done a great job making the transition from Utes to Cougars!)
I have focused my attention on the football and basketball programs, but Holmoe has presided over an Athletics Department that has, in the 2006-2007 season alone, achieved the following:
Director's Cup Ranking: 26th
14 MWC Championship titles
10 teams earned a top-25 final national ranking
17 teams qualified for the NCAA tournament
Two national champions: Cross country runner Josh Rohatinsky and track and field athlete Nick Arrhenius in discus.
2006-07 Academic All-MWC: 243
2006-07 Scholar Athletes: 141
(2006-2007 stats courtesy byucougars.com)
There have been some great days in Cougar sports in past decades, but the first decade of this new millennium will be among the brightest ever. Unfortunately, the advent of the BCS (which is both a football AND basketball term now)and the MWC's accompanying media distribution difficulties have placed BYU in a position in which many of its accomplishments may go unnoticed or ultimately unrewarded.
That notwithstanding, BYU is on its way to being the "best of the rest," and one can only hope that some day soon, a situation will present itself that gives the program a chance to truly shine on the national stage it deserves.
April 21st, 2011 Postscript:
Mendenhall and Rose have added to their many accomplishments, with the football team playing in a bowl games in all six seasons of Mendenhall's tenure, and the basketball team having played in a school-record five consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
Mendenhall (73%) and Rose (78%) are among the most successful coaches of their era; only BYU and Ohio State can claim that their football and basketball coaches are both ranked in the current top ten in career active coaching win percentage.
BYU leaves the MWC as the dominant historical leader in conference championships across all sports, and as the league leader in football and basketball, with both programs holding the league record for conference championships and conference wins. The BYU Basketball team also holds the conference record for overall wins since the MWC was formed.
BYU's departure from the MWC into football independence and the West Coast Conference in most other sports gives the program a chance to "shine on the national stage," as referenced in the final paragraph above.
To be certain, the move was forced as BYU was passed over in the latest round of conference expansion, but it was a best-case scenario, with BYU existing as one of few programs possessing both an infrastructure and a national identity that make viable the prospects for success.
The Cougars are rolling right now, and things indeed look as "Golden" now as they did in the winter of 2008.
Hope you enjoyed this look back in the recent past; we'll do it again soon.