BYU’s Pursuit of Football Excellence

Since Lavell Edwards retired, BYU’s football program has entered the arms race that is major college football.

Consider the latest events in the hiring of a new head football coach:

In a paper chase that began Friday, sources say Utah’s first offer to Whittingham Sunday started at $500,000, a figure that clearly outdistanced a BYU offer first put on the table Friday. Utah then pushed that to $750,000 a year for five years by Tuesday afternoon, a figure unheard of in the Rockies for a first-year unproven head coach….

There are reports that in recent weeks some BYU boosters got their own university out of whack when they gathered money for a “fantasy hire” to get back to what they believed would be BYU’s good old days. This group reportedly got commitments to pay USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow to come to BYU for more than $1 million a year.

While BYU administrators did not sign on for that fantasy hire and pursued Whittingham as a prime candidate, the Ute defensive coordinator may have caught wind of that money and wondered about BYU’s offer that amounted to approximately $400,000. Apparently those boosters weren’t interested in Chow money for Whittingham. Monday and Tuesday, BYU officials crunched the numbers, working to find solutions that may appeal to Whittingham.

In the meantime, an independent BYU booster group, different from the Chow supporters, created a fund-raising campaign on Tuesday for a personal performance signing bonus for Whittingham if he took the BYU job. Rob Seolas, a spokesman for Friends and Supporters of Kyle Whittingham, started the fund with $40,000 and put the call out for donations. Following NCAA guidelines, Seolas’ group had raised $250,000 by Tuesday afternoon.

According to BYU sources, administrators worked hard the past five days in placating Whittingham’s desire for a quick decision. This included having BYU President Cecil Samuelson travel to Salt Lake City for a Saturday interview, making the location easy for the candidate.

BYU also hurried up the timetable for a mandatory meeting with an LDS apostle, asking and gaining access Monday afternoon to Elder Henry B. Eyring, who serves as church commissioner of education at church headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City.

The early odds were on BYU, but that was before Utah raised its bid to $750,000.

Why does this series of events trouble me? First, some non-answers. It is not the bidding war per se. Indeed, I hope to induce an enormous bidding war for my services someday, though I am not sure what services I could offer that would prompt such a war. Also, it is not the special efforts of two General Authorities, including one Apostle. Those interviews were required, and scheduling them to meet Whittingham’s desires is just good business.

No, the thing that bothers me about this is that BYU is not taking this seriously. Remember that any head football coach at BYU must hold a temple recommend. That means the coach is a full tithe-payor. The net cost of the BYU offer to Whittingham, therefore, is only $360,000 per year. (The Church pays Whittingham $400,000 and receives 10% back as tithing.) Utah, on the other hand, bears the full cost of its offer: $750,000. More than double the cost of the BYU offer! Moreover, even if BYU loses, the Church wins because it will receive a check for $75,000 if Whittingham goes to Utah.

That just doesn’t seem fair.

76 comments for “BYU’s Pursuit of Football Excellence

  1. Well, following your reasoning, Utah doesn’t bear the full cost of its offer, but only the net after state taxes are subtracted. And even if Whittingham is hired by BYU, he will still pay taxes.

  2. Jed, who doesn’t?

    John, the state tax point is a smart point. On the other hand, while BYU’s goals and values are pretty much the same as the Church’s, the same cannot be said for the U. I doubt the U gets excited about state funds per se. They care about state funds in their pockets. So if state tax money does not end up returning to the U, they probably should not value it as BYU values tithing. Even if BYU doesn’t get the money back, more tithing revenue is probably considered a good thing at BYU.

    The real problem is that the alternative to paying this money to Whitingham is to pay it someone else, who will likely will be a tithe payer or state tax payer respectively. So no matter what, BYU is likely to save that 10%, as long as they don’t use it to hire or buy from non-members.

  3. 500,000 bucks? Thats play money here in the South, where USC just hired a new coach for 2 million a year.

  4. Sometime early in the 20th century BYU shut down it’s football team.

    Before throwing another pile of money down the rathole, it’s time to consider shutting it down again.

    What does the university and the church get for all that money?

    1. No bread, but circuses for the fans.
    2. Publicity to a small subset of people (football fans), in some cases widespread, but shallow.

    And what do they “pay”?

    1. Bad publicity, from bad behavior by players and fans.
    2. Intellectual dishonesty in admissions and grading, etc. for “student athletes”.
    3. Huge amounts of money, that could be spent elsewhere on something central to either the church’s or the university’s mission.

    And, of course, the huge pile of money going down the football rathole makes compliance with Title IX more difficult, resulting in the termination of other men’s sports as the A.D. tries to solve the problem.

    The fact is that except for a very small group of people, it just doesn’t matter. How much, for example, does BYU football matter to the church in Austria, or Ecuador, or Mexico? Get outside the small circle of football fanatics, and who has ever heard of BYU football? (When Lavell Edwards was here in NYC as a missionary, he sat next to Rudy Giuliani at a banquet. He introduced himself to Rudy, and Rudy said “Who?” Just as today’s Times has not a word about the induction into the College Football Hall of Fame yesterday. To most people, it just doesn’t matter.)

  5. Mark B.,

    Bravo! Elimination of football would do more to further the cause of true student-athletes at BYU than anything else I can think of. Of course it will never happen. Who wants that giant stadium sitting there empty, mocking the university?

  6. I am on Mark B’s side. Tear the stadium down. If BYU were really the Lord’s university there wouldn’t even be a discussion of paying some guy $400+ to coach football. They should be more interested in paying the Jim Faulconer’s of the world a better salary to educate LDS youth.

    Then again we attended when BYU football was King of the World 1984!

  7. Well I am no big football fan but let me make a couple comments:

    The athletes in my classes (and generally in economics) do not get special treatment. I really can’t say what happens elsewhere.

    The football program is the only program in athletics likely to make a profit from year to year. A good basketball team can also make a profit, but not, as I understand it, a bad team. The money made in football pretty much all goes back into the athletics department. Thus the athletics department, through Title IX, manages to re-capture the money football generates.

    Therefore getting rid of football would not free up resources for other athletics, it would mean that those other programs would require more University money because they would lose their football subsidy. Thus, as best I can determine, if you wish to get rid of football, you either wish to get rid of the rest of the athletics or you wish to put more Church funds into athletics.

    You could try to make the argument that donations would then increase to these other programs, because football fund-raising would no longer crowd them out. I doubt that that is true though.

  8. cooper,

    If a coach is successful, they are worth more than $400,000 a year in higher football revenues, thus you cannot tranfer the money to Jim, because Jim would not increase the revenue and so there would be noe money to transfer.

    (Sorry, Jim).

    Of course, if they are unsuccesful, then they aren’t worth the money, in which case they are replaced.

  9. From 11:03 central time:

    SALT LAKE CITY — Defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham has been hired as Utah’s new football coach, the school said Wednesday. Whittingham shunned an offer from Utah’s rival and his alma mater, Brigham Young, to take the Utes’ job. He was to be introduced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, sports information director Liz Abel said in an e-mail. Whittingham will replace Urban Meyer as Utah’s coach following the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl. Meyer was introduced Tuesday as the new coach at Florida.

  10. Whittingham’s decision was pretty predictable, given the two offers. He takes over the first team to crack the BCS, with players he knows and many of whom he recruited, at a salary that is way higher than the competing offer. It appears that he was willing to sacrifice some money to be at BYU, but not $350,000 per year.

  11. By the way, it looks like BYU has now been shunned by its top two choices, Norm Chow and Kyle Whittingham. Not as bad as Notre Dame, which has been shunned by its top five or so, but still pretty embarrassing. I used to have the impression that the Athletic Department at BYU was run by competent people, but this new head coach firing combined with the bungled AD firings earlier in the year make them look amateurish.

  12. Has anyone actually looked into whether College football actually makes enough money to support other atheletic teams?

    I know it makes a lot of money, but with 80+ scholarships, huge coaches salaries and a million dollars a seasons just to tape ankles, I wonder if they don’t actually lose money. Maybe that’s why colleges closely guard the football budget and just hand out platitudes when asked.

  13. Frank, that just goes to show you how much I know of the way salaries and football go hand in hand. Thanks for the small primer. ;~)

  14. Ivan’s question is a good one–but not one that will likely bring an honest answer from university administrators at any school. Their accountants went to the Enron/WorldCom school of accountancy.

    I have only two personal experiences with athletes. One was in a religion class, where this enormous mountain of flesh sat inert and apparently uncomprehending for two hours a week (most weeks). Maybe he didn’t get special treatment, but he gave no indication that he was there. (He did get a lot of cheers on Saturdays, when he suddenly became an important part of the university.)

    The other was a basketball player, who showed up in my dad’s freshman chemistry class. Dad got a call from the athletics department, essentially asking him to nursemaid the kid, make sure that he showed up at class and call the athletics dept. if there were any problems–non-attendance, failure to do assignments, poor grades on exams, snotty nose (I suppose). If that’s not special treatment, I don’t know what is. Of course, Dad told them (probably not in these words, although they probably reflect his sentiments) to go to hell.

    If substantial numbers of the athletes don’t get special treatment in admissions, then either there is no football team, or the players aren’t admitted as students.

  15. “The Pursuit of Football Evidence” deserves at least a brief shiv in the ribs.

    What is it, the Latter-day Saints, or the New Orleans Saints?

  16. I’ve asked several people in the footboall program about profits and they say that BYU Football, unlike some other schools, makes a profit even when you include scholarships. They could have been lying of course.

    On the other hand perhaps maintaining profits was why BYU was unwilling to fork over the extra $300,000 a year to get the coach they wanted?

  17. Clark,

    I didn’t mean to accuse the football boys of lying. But, as any accountant can tell you, there are profits and then there are profits. I’d like to see what they put on the cost side (z.B., what about maintenance costs for the football palaces–now you have to include the great and spacious indoor practice building–and what about depreciation on that thing?)

    One thing that they certainly do not put on the financial statements is the moral cost.

  18. Frank,

    Do football players have tutoring services and study facilities available to them that are not available to the average BYU student?

  19. I’m willing to pledge $25,000* to keep Gordon Smith here. Hear that, BCC and IntellecXhibitionist? Let the bidding war begin.

    *if my pledge is matched.

  20. From physical appearance, Jim F. looks like he would be an excellent offensive line coach! So, his pay can increase, he simply has to alter his job description! :)

  21. Random John,

    Yes, they have a brand new Student Athlete building that hires dozens of tutors to assist student athletes with their coursework. I know this because I have been rejected for a position as a tutor there several times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :0

  22. random John –

    Yes, football players at BYU are given indiviual tutors – something not offerend by the school to “normal” students (students who will not be allowed to use the new atheletics facility either).

  23. Of course, normal students are free to hire outside tutors, of course (and some departments at BYU have tutoring or mentoring programs).

  24. Tutors don’t seem like an unreasonable accomodation for athletes, who are required under the terms of their scholarship to miss class time to travel to contests.

  25. John,

    I know a girl who tutotored athletes for her campus job. Of course she also tutored non-athletes, so I guess that they do have tutors, but not ones other students couldn’t hire. They may have study rooms, but they also have workout rooms so why not study rooms? They also can be gone for a week at a time from class. I think there is some policy about how they need to be allowed to make up work they miss while gone for a game. This doesn’t qualify as undue special treatment in my book.

    Mark B., you give an example of a large football player in one class, with no evidence of “special treatment” on his grade, and a call your father once got about one freshman basketball player asking for a heads-up if the kid wasn’t doing his work.

    Well, I can think off-hand of several athletes, one of them an excellent basketball player, who took my class. I got no calls about any of them. Some of them did quite well, others not so well. Just like all my other students. Now my sample is highly selected, but I would not be inclined to issue blanket statements about BYU athletes getting speical treatment on your one and a half anecdotes.

    As for admissions, presumably their athletic ability makes up in some cases for weak academic ability. I suppose to a lesser extent this is also true with musical ability or being class president.

  26. I have an idea. George O’Leary might be a good fit as BYU football coach. He could fudge his CV and no AD would be around to notice it.

  27. I predict BYU fans will start wearing oversized homemade scripture covers on their heads, calling themselves the “Aints.”

  28. By the way, I’m devasted that Mr. Whittingham is staying at the U. Looks like BYU’s Lenten season is just beginning.

  29. Frank,

    It is my understanding that BYU football players get free tutoring. You replied that other BYU students could hire a tutor as well. I assume that you see the inequality here between an athlete who has a tutor and a tutoring center provided free of charge in and out of season and a student that is already broke trying to hire a tutor on their own and find a place for the tutoring to occur.

    There is another factor that can come up as well. Where I went to school (not BYU) the athletic department had a notebook called “Courses of Significant Interest”. It was a listing of courses and which profs to take them from along with comments. Basically it was a list of professors that took it easy on athletes or whose courses were easy in general. Athletes were encouraged to take the courses together.

    I was getting a minor in Portuguese, and most courses had at most three students in them. I was shocked when I went into a Portuguese poetry class from a prof I had never had before and found much of the women’s basketball team and a large number of wrestlers. I was the only non-athlete in the room. I soon found out why.

    I would guess that similar things happen elsewhere. This has two effects. One is that it lowers the curve in an already easy class if athletes dominate the class. Another is that other profs aren’t subjected to pressure to give special treatment to athletes since they are boosting their GPAs in these fluff courses.

    This is not meant as an attack on athletes or to say that athletes are by default poor students. Some of my best friends in college were athletes and many of them make me look pretty stupid.

  30. The major sports haven’t seen it so bad since the 1960s. BYU’s basketball team is, what, 1-5?

    Do you think Roger Reid would want to coach?

  31. Having seen Lavell Edwards on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” this morning, I knew that BYU was not getting Kyle Whittingham. Lavell pretty much said that the decision was already made, Utah just hadn’t made it official. It is going to be a tough gig at BYU…for irony’s sake, is there anyway that Tyrone Willingham can start taking the discussions?

  32. Tyrone would be a great coach without the discussions. He is a class act. I never heard a single complaint about him. BYU would be lucky to have him, but I would be shocked if he would go there when Washington is an option.

  33. I second the comments made by a random John. Mr. Willingham would have no trouble keeping the Honor Code and encouraging his boys to live it. It’s the sort of thing he would do anyway.

  34. How many football players does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    One, but he gets three credits for it.

  35. Phil and arJ:

    I’ve been saying the exact same thing. And while I recognize that it may be important to the donors that the coach have a temple recommend, is there any doubt that Willingham would enforce the honor code if he were to take the job?

    Non-LDS status aside, his price tag might be a bit too high for BYU.

  36. Gordon,

    Speaking about incompetence at the administrative level, why haven’t I seen anyone, here or in the press, state at least a little bit of concern over the entire BYU athletic administration’s decision to be in New York during this, the most crucial week BYU football has had in the last four years.

    Sure, your buddy Lavell is having an important event. But that doesn’t explain why you all had to be there, nor why you stayed through yesterday, when the event was the night before. You’re telling me none of these people thought it would make even the slightest difference to be here to talk to Whittingham in person, and to put the personal full-court press on? That’s just really bad decisionmaking, in my book.

    If I’m a hotly-contested job candidate, and you’re trying to get me to take a job that offers far less money than the competition, I might take your inability even to come see me as a bit of a brush-off.

  37. P.S., Gordon, Intellecxhibitionist will offer you twice what Greenwood is offering*

    (totals must be in actual dollars actually handed to Smith by Greenwood, excluding dollars marked with Masonic Iconography, which is offensive to Intellecxhibitionist management).

  38. Or, Ryan Bell, the fact that the entire department was in Hawaii the week after Crowton resigned. It might have been nice to be looking at new coaches and things, but Hawaii was nicer. Faagh.

    P.S. I think you’ll find that your aversion to Masonic Iconography is going to handicap you in this bidding war. I was going to pay off Gordon Smith in Susan B. Anthony fifty-centers, but now I’m doing it in dollar bills just to scuttle y’all.

  39. John,

    By your criterion, a scholarship is also special treatment, since other students must pay tuition. Thus you needn’t look to tutors for signs of “special treatment” since it is well established that football players get scholarships. I would think the “special treatment” of concern would be something like preferential grading.

    Your “Courses of interest” notebookd sounds great! May I never be in one. Of course, all students tell each other all the time which classes are easy and which teachers. This (non-BYU) example is more formal though, and therefore funnier.

  40. Frank,

    I am surprised that you do not see a difference between a scholarship and providing exclusive tutoring services that are not available to other students. Even if a normal student were willing to pay to have the academic services (same tutors, time spent with them, and building) that a football player gets he/she would not be allowed to have them. If I am wrong and all BYU students can have access to these facilities for I price then please correct me.

  41. This thread didn’t go the way I thought it might. Doesn’t anybody think it’s unseemly for the Church to be involved in all this, to fire a member in good standing because they didn’t do a good job coaching a football team, and then use elitist tactics to hire someone else?

    Doesn’t anybody have righteous indignation here?

  42. Frank,

    I didn’t say that the big boy in my religion class got a free pass on his grade. He did get a free pass on his admission into a university, since it was clear that he had no interest in being there, other than, presumably, to play football.

    And, then, nobody has mentioned the pre-game nights in a hotel, even for home games. Try that on one your non-jock students. “Got a big exam coming. Have a night on us, at the Provo Hilton. Free HBO, spa, dancing girls–all on the tab of the BY. After all, we really want you to do well on this test!”

    (During one of BYU’s miserable losses, either this year or last, the idiots on ESPN suggested that one reason BYU did so poorly was that they actually had to go to class that day–I think it was a Thursday. Damn! If only our student-athletes didn’t have to go to class at all, just think how well they could concentrate on what’s really important!)

    But, to be fair to you, Frank, my anecdote and a half don’t prove my argument about special treatment. We’ll just have to wait for full disclosure by the folks in the SOB (that’s the Smoot Office Building for you non-cognoscenti).

  43. I have seen the same kind of treatment of athletes even at Evangelical schools. I remember players slouching late into class and sleeping in the back of the class room or missing class all together. Some how ethics many times gets thrown out the window irrespective if its a LDS, Catholic or Evangelical University. Unfortunately. money talks and principle walks.

  44. Do they have dancing girls at the Provo Hilton? If so, for shame, but I hadn’t thought.

  45. Mark B.–

    Athletes receiving preferential admissions treatment isn’t much different that preference given to generous alumni — both bring money into the school. There are plenty of kids slumming around schools who don’t really want to be there, but who got in because Daddy pulled some strings. I’m sure it happens at BYU as well.

    As for traveling on the school’s dime, I did that playing College Bowl. Four or five weekends a semester, I skipped classes on Friday, flew all over the country, stayed in hotels, ate on the school’s money, all so I could answer a few questions.

  46. D. Fletcher: no, I’m not indignant about BYU firing a lousy coach who is a member in good standing. Nor would I be indignant if BYU fired a lousy elevator mechanic who is a member in good standing. Being a member in good standing may be job requirement, but it’s not a qualification.

    As to the rest of your question, I’m not sure what “elitist” hiring practices are, or why they should be objectionable.

    I should state for the record that I’m not asserting that Gary Crowton is a lousy coach or should have been fired, rather I’m just accepting that assertion for the sake of argument. I don’t follow sports closely and have no opinion on or interest in sports personnel issues.

  47. Well, I guess I have to admit that I have enough interest in sports personnel issues to read 52 posts deep into a blog comments section on the issue.

  48. John,

    I don’t know that there is anything special about the building where they study. I don’t even know what kind of study room they have, so to that I cannot speak. As for the tutors, BYU is rife with kids willing to tutor other kids. And the only girl I know who tutored for athletics has also tutored others. So there is no specialness to the tutoring provided athletes. Of course, sometimes at BYU it is hard to get your tutor to take your money since they will often do it gratis. But that is a very different problem :)


    The building I work in is actually called the Faculty Office Building. We thought it would have been cool to have it renamed the Staff Office Building.

  49. “He did get a free pass on his admission into a university, since it was clear that he had no interest in being there, other than, presumably, to play football.”

    Reminds me of this other guy who went, only he initially had no interest except to learn physics and meet Mormons. Dang him. Dang him to heck. He got a free pass as well being given an academic scholarship.

    Yeah, I’m being ironic, but I think some comments are dripping with some assumptions about what a university ought to be that I’m not sure I agree with. Reminds me of a conservation in which several people seriously thought all “practical” departments ought to be dropped from university curriculum, along with all athletics. The only real education was a liberal arts education. So they thought the Clyde buidling an abomination. . .

    Fortunately there aren’t many like that, but sometimes when I hear of shocking things like athletes being given an education and actually helped to learn, I kind of roll my eyes.

    If the criticism is just that every student should be treated equally I might understand. I’d disagree of course, but I’d understand. But it seems like somehow the fact athletes get the treatment rather than honors students is a horrible travesty of justice. . . I can’t help but wonder on their view regarding athletics in general or perhaps dance, drama, or even art…

  50. Frank, because your office building stands on the site of the old stadium (as youi probably know, those “storage sheds” out back are the old press boxes), it was originally named the Stadium Office Building, until, that is, it became time to put the acronyms in the class schedule. The sign with that name on it stayed up a few months and then disappeared to be replaced by the name the building still goes by, “Faculty Office Building.”

  51. The thoughts on coaches’ salaries brought to mind last month’s release of college presidents’ top salaries by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Johns Hopkins’ William Brody come in first at $897,786, edging out the University of Pennsylvania’s Judith Rodin at $892,213. I can see how Dr. Brody, a cardiac surgeon leading Maryland’s largest private employer, is worth the money. If there were for some reason a desire to replace BYU football with an even more expensive, possibly profitable activity, the answer would be to raze Cougar Stadium and build a teaching hospital. See what headaches football is saving us from?

    Could rising administrator salaries have anything to do with the last two BYU presidents being General Authorities? Rex Lee didn’t seem like the sort who would have sold his time cheaply, and his present day equivalent would be more expensive.

  52. John, By way of contrast, Urban Meyer (Utah’s coach now heading to Florida) just signed a contract for $14 million over 7 years. Kyle Whittingham — who has never been a head coach — got a contract is $675,000 per year (it was originally reported to be $750,000). This prompted my wife to ask me last night, “Why didn’t you ever consider coaching?”

  53. John Mansfield’s last comment has the seed of an idea that I can’t resist pondering aloud about. Why not “call” a general authority to be the football coach. That way we can handle the issues of salary, temple recommend, etc. all at once. Make potential LDS recruits squirm even more when they pass up on BYU. (hehe)

  54. Bryce,

    You’ll note that I mentioned hotel stays on the night before a home game, not an out of town game.

    If you had a college bowl game at home, did the university put you up in a local hotel so you could prepare/be nursemaided/whatver?

    Jim’s and Frank’s comments about the SOB/FOB bring back fond memories of good friends who were exiled to that unfortunate pile on the edge of the hill–not that there are any architectural masterpieces on campus (a subject for another day), but that building seemed just a step above the old Quonset hut in the no man’s land between the engineering building and the heating plant.

    I’m not sure that Frank’s comments about people willing to tutor for free is relevant to the issue of the university providing tutors/nursemaids for the “hired gun” entertainers.

    Having a father who was a chemist, and a father-in-law who was in industrial education/technology, I’m not ignorant of differing views about what a university ought to be about. (I’ve even heard engineers compared, unfavorably, to chemists and physicists. Horrors!) I believe the old slogan of the folks in the college of sweat: Mens sana in corpore sano. So, no, Clark, I don’t think that there is no place at the university for athletics. I don’t think, however, that there should be a place for Division I, BCS-wannabe football.

    And, the suggestion that the university might spend a half million dollars a year on someone to be the head coach of the team is beyond obscene.

  55. I used to be the janitor in the Faculty Offic Building at BYU (this would have been 1998 – 2000).

    I remember opening one of the old stadium press boxes – it hadn’t neen opened in something like five or seven years. The trash bag liner had disintegrated and there was a note pad with a half finished note on the desk.

    Not that that has anything to do with the topic at hand.

  56. Urban Meyer is being paid 2 million per year. If BYU wants to compete with the best they’re going to have to be willing to pay at least half a million a year.

  57. I actually really like this building, but don’t tell anybody. We’d hate to lose it. The offices are big and I don’t have to go up and down stairs. Also, we control almost the whole building, which makes it feel more like _our_ building.

    And of course the free tutoring is not the relevant part. The relevant part is that athelete tutors are not exclusive and also tutor other kids.

  58. Clark, mostly I agree. I haven’t begrudged any of the intercollegiate athletes I’ve taught their perks, although I haven’t had to deal with any egregious excesses yet. They put in a huge amount of work while the sponsoring institution reaps most of the rewards, considering how unlikely a pro career is in any sport, and most sports don’t even have that option. In BYU’s case, the school gives financial incentives of all kinds for students to attend, including for academics and art and “leadership”, the last I checked. Maybe someone could make the argument that Mormonism’s unique theology of the body makes it particularly appropriate to have star athletes representing our flagship university.

    That being said, there’s nothing obvious about a university sponsoring big-time sports operations. There’s also nothing obvious about a university making a place for programs in nursing, engineering, general education, an honors program, or anything else (except the trivium and the quadrivium; we got in on the ground floor, and we won’t leave without a fight). Other university systems locate training in various disciplines at different insitutions than we usually do, and there’s a huge diversity within the American system, and BYU has a unique place in that system. The views of the provincial elite on what belongs and what doesn’t can be annoying, but their opinion counts as much as any other stakeholder in the system. At what point does the BYU intercollegiate sports program become so large as to be embarrassing? How bad does the football team have to be before the cost just isn’t worth it? I’m just happy that I don’t have anything riding on it.

  59. John Mansfield,

    I am sure that others here know more about this than I do, but it is my understanding that way back when, BYU decided to have a law school rather than a med school.

  60. Frank,
    It might interest you to know that if you did any teaching while getting your PhD that you might have been listed in the very “Courses of Significant Interest” notebook that I am talking about. :)

  61. Why are people worried about athletes are getting all kinds of perks, when, in reality, they are being exploited. College football should be turned into a minor league and the players paid. Are the coaches somehow uniquely responsible for the revenue generated and therefore the only ones entitled to be compensated based on performance?

  62. Bill brings up one more piece of the ugly picture that is big time college sports.

    If we could only get the boys to join the union, go on strike, and force some changes from the administrators.

  63. John,

    I didn’t do any teaching, but as I recall economics was a popular major among the athletes there. I should note that that has probably changed since they _finally_ started requring some econometrics. At BYU economics is not a particularly good choice for an easy major, though it is a good choice for a fast major.

  64. Frank,

    I would guess that we can agree that in general, the athletes there were probably more capable of completing an econ major. :) I do know one that transferred from a church school with a 4.0 GPA and then couldn’t complete an econ major. I could go on about that story, but I won’t.

  65. I don’t think BYU had any other real choice, other than Reynolds. I’m glad Mendenhall was given the chance. I don’t think the coaching change will do a whole lot, but due to other factors, such as returning starters, I think the team will post more W’s in 2005.

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