The 2018 BYU Football Media Day did not produce any groundbreaking changes or announcements, but it was chock full of optimism and confidence. The Cougars are fresh off a four-and-nine season, so media day was a good chance for coaches to clear the air.
Tom Holmoe spoke in a part of the media day festivities called State of the Program. He did not give any big announcements, but he did explain that the BYU-ESPN relationship has not been damaged after last season. The ESPN TV deal expires after 2019.
As far as minor announcements go, BYU announced a new stadium-wide Wi-Fi system, that the team is still in negotiations with Notre Dame about scheduling the game they owe BYU and that the team will likely remain independent until at least 2023–2024.
After the 2017 season, head coach Kalani Sitake revamped his staff and added a lot of new coaching additions. Jeff Grimes, offensive coordinator, brings a completely new system on the offensive side of the ball. Sitake explained that he “feels a lot better about what we can accomplish” after the staff revamp.
Players and coaches bounced around to different interviews on radio, on TV, and with different journalists. Sione Takitaki joined BYU Sports Nation and talked about the linebacker group as a whole.
“The linebacker group has a ton of experience overall,” senior linebacker Sione Takitaki said. “We all feed off of each other really well.”
In years past, the LB group has been BYU Football’s strength. BYU has produced top-rated defenses, and it all starts with the linebackers.
The quarterback position also carries a lot of ambiguity. Various coaches and athletes talked about the battle over the position, which has raged throughout the spring and summer.
“The spot is open. They are all friends and get along, but they are working hard to earn the position,” Sitake said.
Tanner Mangum, Joe Critchlow, Beau Hoge and Zach Wilson have been receiving the most attention for the starting QB position. Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney are also in the mix.
“The feeling in the QB room is a good one,” Hoge, a senior quarterback, said. “Nothing but heavy competition.”
When talking about the quarterbacks, a new NCAA redshirt rule was also brought up. All NCAA division one players will be able to play four games in a season without losing one of their four years of eligibility. Sitake said the new rule will be a benefit for the team and incoming players.
“I am looking forward to our freshman coming in,” Sitake said. “I am also looking forward to the newly returned missionaries and having them possibly play the last four games.”
With new changes in the rules, players like quarterback Zach Wilson have a better shot of playing. Coaches and players talked about his skill and how he could make an impact early.
“Zach is a fierce competitor. It’s rare for someone at his age to rally the troops as well as he does, ” assistant coach Fesi Sitake said.
Coaches talked about battles at different positions, the new coaching staff changes and new schemes that will be used next season. After a season of disappointment in 2017, coaches and players were optimistic and are looking forward to the 2018 season.
“Right now we are in a bit of a rut,” Kalani Sitake said on BYU Sports Nation. “I know we can get through it because of this fan base.”
Grimes previously served as offensive coordinator at Louisiana State University from 2014 to 2017. He talked about the fan base and how they are helping him in his transition.
“I haven’t had a lot of challenges because of the people around me,” Coach Grimes said. “The fans and coaches have helped me transition better.”
Former BYU football players joined the festivities in a segment called Cougars in the NFL. They recounted their experiences with the fans and talked about the team and what they need to do to rebound from last season.
Former Running Back Jamaal Williams currently plays for the Green Bay Packers, and he talked to BYU Sports Nation about his expectations for the team next season.
“I’m taking all bets on my Cougars,” Williams said. “They’re going to make a comeback.”
The 2018 schedule appears to be a very difficult one, with the Cougars going head-to-head with Arizona, Washington, Wisconsin, Utah, and Boise State. Washington and Wisconsin are projected by many to win their respective conferences.
Coach Sitake talked about the strength of the schedule and said he wants to play the best teams as often as possible. He said the schedule is not too hard, and over time BYU will be able to handle top-tier teams.
Although media day did not contain any groundbreaking announcements, it showcased a team ready to rebound after last season and a team full of hope and optimism going into the 2018 season. The coaches and players showed no fear of what lies ahead and seem to be ready to take on any team, anywhere, at any time.