That BYU is the best overall athletic program in the Mountain West Conference probably comes as no surprise to any dedicated Cougar fan.
The 2009-10 athletic year was more of the same as BYU won conference titles in eight sports (women's soccer, softball, women's swimming, men's tennis, men's indoor and outdoor track and women's indoor and outdoor track) and finished second in five others.
Using the modified Dickson Athletic Prowess System (DAPS), BYU finished well ahead of the rest of the MWC in overall performance. The DAPS is a simple process, awarding one point for first place, two for second, etc., so low score is best.
In 2009-10, BYU scored 45 points, 21 points ahead of second-place TCU at 66. BYU's score of 45 was four points better than last season's mark of 49. Over the past five seasons, BYU has scored 32, 26, 40, 49 and 45 points using the DAPS.
The biggest drop by an MWC team was Utah, which fell from 73 points in 2008-09 to 87 points in 2009-10 (minus-14). The biggest improvement was by Wyoming, which was 10 points better this season than last.
BYU dominated the Deseret First Duel and outscored Utah 45.5 to 15.5, the largest margin of victory in the three years of the competition. Of course, BYU would like nothing better than to win the DFD in 2010-11 as a sendoff to the Utes moving to the Pac 10.
BYU is ranked 34th in the Directors Cup, which measures athletic achievement in Division I sports programs, with the final tally still to come.
Here's a look at the highlights and lowlights of the 2009-10 BYU athletic year.
FALL 2009 -- FOOTBALL
• 2009 record: 11-2 overall, 7-1 MWC (2nd)
• Postseason: Destroyed No. 18 Oregon State 44-20 in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
• Highlights: Opening the season with a 14-13 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma; Andrew George's game-winning catch in overtime to beat No. 21 Utah; Senior tight end Dennis PItta becoming BYU's all-time leading receiver; Max Hall blasting Utah fans after win over the Utes.
• Lowlights: Getting worked at home by Florida State 54-28 in Week 3; Losing at home to No. 8 TCU 38-7 in a big MWC showdown; All-time leading rusher Harvey Unga withdrawing from school in the spring because of an Honor Code issue.
• MVP: Senior TE Dennis Pitta
• Next Year's News: With Unga gone, BYU is faced with replacing its all-time leading rusher, all-time leading receptions leader and quarterback with the most wins as a starter. On top of that, the front seven on defense is being rebuilt. The biggest decision for coaches is whether the Jake Heaps era starts in the fall or junior Riley Nelson gets the start at quarterback.
• 2009 record: 18-4-2 overall, 6-0-1 MWC (1st)
• Postseason: Lost to top-ranked Stanford 2-0 in NCAA second round
• Highlights: Back-to-back wins over ranked teams (No. 20 UConn, No. 14 West Virginia) in August; Home win (2-1) over No. 15 Oklahoma State; Unbeaten regular season in MWC; First-round NCAA victory over UC Santa Barbara.
• Lowlights: Elizabeth Lambert hair-pulling incident against New Mexico makes distracting national news during MWC tournament; A 1-0 loss to San Diego State in MWC tournament championship.
• MVP: Freshman Carlee Payne
• Next Year's News: Payne scored 36 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in dominating freshman season and will return as one of the nation's top players. Defender Andrea Willis will be missed but Jennifer Rockwood returns enough talented players to again be a national presence.
• 2009 record: 15-14 overall, 9-7 MWC (5th)
• Postseason: None
• Highlights: Finished first in the MWC in blocking, 19th in the country.
• Lowlights: A difficult preseason schedule leads to a 6-6 start; Falling twice in five sets to Utah; Failing to reach the postseason for the second straight year.
• MVP: Senior outside hitter Kayla Walker
• Next Year's News: Walker and libero Morgan Lloyd Sorensen graduate, so head coach Shay Goulding will count on sophomore middle blocker Nicole Walker, senior middle blocker Christina Measom, senior setter Kiana Rogers and senior defensive specialist Melissa Lake Wright for 2010.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
• Highlights: Bouncing back from second place finish at MWC championships to take the Mountain Regional title; Sophomore Miles Batty was second in the regional race; Senior Richard Nelson is the top finisher at nationals in 50th place.
• Lowlights: Ranked fifth heading into nationals, the Cougars fell to 17th overall in the finals.
• MVP: Batty
• Next Year's News: The Cougars lose Nelson and Brandon Hebbert but Batty, junior Nate Ogden and sophomore Tommy Gruenewald return.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
• Highlights: Winning the BYU Autumn Classic and Bob Firman Invitational; Junior Cecily Lemmon-Lew winning MWC individual title, coming in second at regionals and 10th at nationals; Team finished 19th at NCAA's.
• Lowlights: Finishing second in the MWC championships for the third straight year
• MVP: Lemmon-Lew
• Next Year's News: Lemmon-Lew will be the favorite to repeat as the MWC individual champion.
WINTER 2010 -- MEN'S BASKETBALL
• 2009-10 record: 30-6 overall, 13-3 MWC (2nd)
• Postseason: The Cougars won their first NCAA tournament game since 1993, beating Florida in double overtime, then fell to Kansas State in the second round.
• Highlights: Head coach Dave Rose's clean bill of health continues after summer cancer scare; Jimmer Fredette's school record 49 points at Arizona; A 20-1 start; A big 71-69 win on the road at San Diego State; Michael Loyd Jr.'s electrifying performances against New Mexico, Utah and Florida; the NCAA first-round jinx is over.
• Lowlights: Fredette got sick with mono right after his record setting performance; An 83-81 home loss to New Mexico in the final seconds; After the season was over, Loyd Jr. and BYU parted ways.
• MVP: Fredette
• Next Year's News: There's no reason to think BYU won't be right in the thick of the MWC race again, especially since Fredette spurned the NBA for his senior year. The Loyd Jr. loss will be felt but the Cougars picked up JC scorer Stephen Rogers to fill some of the gap.
• 2009-10 record: 23-10 overall, 11-5 MWC (2nd)
• Postseason: A strong run through the WNIT finally ended with a 76-50 loss at Cal in the quarterfinals.
• Highlights: A 12-3 start; A 10-point win over San Diego State in Provo; Sweeping the regular-season series with Utah for the first time since 2001-02; Junior guard Haley Hall recovering from multiple knee surgeries to play the whole season; Winning its first three games of the WNIT, including a 67-63 victory at Wyoming.
• Lowlights: By finishing second during the regular season, the Cougars didn't have to play in the first two rounds of the MWC tournament. But BYU got blown out by San Diego State 77-47 in the semifinals.
• MVP: Hall
• Next Year's News: BYU lost only one senior in reserve guard Jamie Judkins, so all five starters return and most of the bench. The Cougars also add some top local talent in 6-2 forward Morgan Bailey (Timpanogos) and 6-7 center Jennifer Hamson (Pleasant Grove).
• 2010 record: 22-9 overall, 15-7 MPSF (2nd-tie)
• Post-season: Lost to Northridge 3-2 in MPSF tournament semifinals
• Highlights: Beating No.1 Pepperdine and No. 3 Stanford in Provo; An 11-match win streak late in the season; Beating UCLA 3-1 in first round of MPSF tournament; Rising to No. 2 in the national rankings
• Lowlights: An offseason injury knocks team captain Alex Da Pron out of the season; Losing at home to Northridge in the final match of the season where a win would have locked up home-court advantage for the MPSF tourney; Three points away from winning Set 5 against Northridge in the MPSF semifinals, BYU couldn't close the deal and lost 15-12.
• MVP: Senior outside hitter Andrew Stewart.
• Next Year's News: Tough losses include Stewart, setters Reed Chilton and Yamil Perez and libero Joel Silva. But BYU does return one of the top middle tandems in the country in juniors Russell Lavaja and Futi Tavana. Da Pron is expected to make a return as well.
• Highlights: Scoring season-high 195.825 points against Utah; Finished 26th in the final rankings; Ended up sixth at NCAA regionals.
• MVP: Co-captains Megan Donehue and McKell Merkley
• Next Year's News: Donehue and Merkley were among four top seniors who graduate. Senior Madeleine Johnson, junior Natalie Eyre and sophomore Haylee Rollins are the athletes of the future for BYU.
• Highlights: Finished the season ranked 25th in the country and 11-0 overall; Sophomore Brandon Watson finishing fourth on the 3-meter springboard at the NCAA's and seventh on 1-meter board.
• MVP: Watson
• Next Year's News: MWC Diving Coach of the Year Keith Russell will be glad to get Watson back.
• Highlights: Finished the season ranked 44th in the country and 11-0 overall; Senior diver Tawni Jones finished 13th on 1-meter board at nationals and 26th on the 3-meter board; Junior wimmer Rachel Grant was 44th in 200 IM, 23rd in the 400 IM and 25th in the 200 Fly, breaking the BYU all-time record.
• MVP: Jones and Grant
• New Year's News: BYU dominated MWC events and went 8-0 in conference play, and Grant returns to keep that streak alive.
SPRING 2010 -- BASEBALL
• 2010 record: 27-31 overall, 12-12 MWC (4th)
• Postseason: BYU went 2-2 in the MWC tournament and lost to New Mexico 7-6 in an elimination game.
• Highlights: Beating TCU 5-4 in Provo, the Cougars first win over the Frogs since 2007; Taking two games at home from Kansas State, then ranked No. 20 in the country; an amazing 25-18 win over Utah in the MWC tournament, where OF Sean McNaughton hit two grand slams.
• Lowlights: Immediately after scoring 25 runs in the wins against Utah, BYU blew a 6-0 lead against New Mexico.
• MVP: Sophomore 1B-C Alex Wolfe (.355, 11 HR, 63 RBI)
• Next Year's News: McNaughton, OF Jonathan Cluff and SS Brandon Relf graduate but studs like Wolfe, OF Stephen Wells and 2B Dane Nielsen return. As always, BYU head coach Vance Law needs to find some more pitchers than can keep the score down.
• 2010 record: 46-13 overall (12-3 MWC, 1st)
• Highlights: WInning the MWC title; Winning the Austin Regional by beating host Texas, then East Carolina twice; Advancing to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time
• Lowlights: Losing twice to Arizona in the Super Regional, including a 10-2 loss in the second game
• MVP: Sr. 3B Angela Quiocho
• Next Year's News: While Quiocho and steady first baseman Andrea Ramirez graduate, BYU returns MWC Freshman of the Year J.C. Clayton (SS), pitcher Paige Affleck, second baseman Kristin Delahoussaye and catcher Jessica Purcell-Fitu, all of whom were selected to the All-Conference team.
• Indoor Highlights: Won eighth straight MWC indoor team title; Junior Leif Arrhenius finishes second in the weight throw at nationals.
• Outdoor Highlights: Won 12th straight MWC team title; Senior Richard Nelson finishes eighth at NCAA steeplechase finals; Junior Blaine Baker earns All-American honors in javelin with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA meet
• MVP: Nelson
• Next Year's News: As always, the BYU men's track team will be favored to win the league title. Arrhenius and Baker lead the returnees.
• Indoor Highlights: Won second straight MWC indoor team title; Sophomore Lacey Cramer finishes second in the 800 meters at NCAA meet; Senior Mindy McClurkin is second in the long jump at nationals; Senior Amy Otis earns All-American honors in the pentathlon.
• Outdoor Highlights: Won MWC title with strong final day; McClurkin leaps 6.53 meters to finish third in the long jump at the NCAA meet.
• MVP: McClurkin
• Next Year's News: McClurkin moves on, but Cramer will make a push for national honors in the 800 meters and the Stewart sisters of Spanish Fork (Nachelle and Natalie) continue to improve in the middle distance races.
• Highlights: Winning the Fresno Lexus Classic; Finishing second at the PING Cougar Classic; Finishing third at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate and the John Burns Invitational; Senior Robbie Fillmore earning an NCAA invite in a sudden-death playoff at the regionals.
• Lowlights: Finishing fourth at the MWC Championships and sixth at the NCAA Regional, just missing out on an NCAA tournament berth.
• MVP: Fillmore
• Next Year's News: Fillmore graduates, leaving sophomore Zac Blair and junior Jordan Rodgers some big shoes to fill in 2011.
• Highlights: A fifth-place finish at the Entrada Classic was the teams best placement of the season; Sophomore Maggie Yuan finishing fourth at MWC Championships.
• Lowlights: Finishing seventh (last) in the MWC Championships.
• MVP: Yuan
• Next Year's News: Both Yuan and Kesley Vines, a freshman who finished 12th at the MWC tournament, will be back. Former BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco coached the women in 2010 and could return next season.
• Highlights: Opening the season with eight straight wins; Beating No. 29 Boise State 5-2; Beating Utah 6-1; Winning the MWC regular-season title with a 6-0 mark; Brad Pearce named MWC Coach of the Year; Advancing to the NCAA tournament.
• Lowlights: Losing to TCU 4-2 in the MWC Championships after beating the Frogs 4-3 during the regular season; Losing to Fresno State 4-2 in the NCAA First Round.
• MVP: Doubles team of Cassidy Mears and Thomas Shubert
• Next Year's News: Mears is the only senior on the roster, so Pearce will expect bigger things from his group in 2011.
• Highlights: Finishing the regular season winning four of last five matches; Going 5-3 in MWC play; McCall Jones advancing to NCAA Singles Championships
• Lowlights: Losing to Utah 5-2; Jones losing in first round of NCAA's.
• MVP: Jones
• Next Year's News: Jones returns for her junior year but head coach Joey Johnson resigned after the season, so the future is uncertain for the Cougars.
• Highlights: Men's lacrosse advances to Elite 8 before losing to No. 1 Michigan; Men's rugby falls short of defending 2009 title by losing to Cal; Women's rugby makes national news by pulling out of nationals because the finals were scheduled for Sunday.