Just before the cameras rolled for the “State of the Program” show at BYU Football Media Day, host Dave McCann looked up into the gathering crowd and noticed former Ute and NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell.
He teased Mitchell about wearing what appeared to be a blue shirt then added, “Everything is blue through these glasses.”
That clearly defines BYU Football Media Day every June: Looking through blue goggles, you can’t help but be optimistic about the upcoming season.
There were no big announcements – unless you count the horrific story told by assistant coach Ed Lamb about having a kidney stone attack during the Wisconsin game last year.
He’s fine, now. But we’ll keep an eye on him for you this season.
It felt odd that Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe was at a family commitment out of town and not in attendance. Holmoe’s comments were from a prerecorded interview and he said the new ESPN contract is close to being done. Honestly, it’s been a pretty slow summer. Holmoe’s interview could have been taped six months ago for all we know.
If Holmoe can phone it in, so to speak, what’s next? A virtual reality event where media avatars interview player avatars from the comfort of our own homes?
I’ve said too much. I hope BYU senior coordinating producer Mikel Minor isn’t reading this column. He doesn’t need any more crazy ideas.
There are good reasons for Cougar fans to feel like 2019 will be special: A ton of returning starters, a more experienced coaching staff and arguably the best home schedule in program history comes to mind.
Let me plan out your summer: Cougar fans will send something out on social media about how they can’t wait for the season to start and a Ute fan will shoot them down with “every BYU fan thinks they’ll win the national championship in the summer but you’ll lose to us again” or something of that nature.
Don’t let them kill your good buzz, man.
BYU could be pretty good this year.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said last summer at this time, the Cougars hoped they could be good. This year they believe it.
There’s a difference.
How important is confidence in college football success?
“It’s everything,” Grimes said. “There are some guys who feel pretty confident all the time.”
I nodded my head over toward where sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson was doing an interview.
“Like that guy?” I said.
“Yeah, like that guy,” Grimes agreed.
Wilson’s freshman year exploded in Game 7 against Hawaii when he accounted for four touchdowns in his first start. There were growing pains, but he played awfully well in the loss to Utah to end the regular season. Wilson finished with a perfect game in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win. His intense and relentless preparation from the time he first joined the team in January of 2018 got him ready for the big moments.
“Zach walked in with that kind of confidence,” Grimes said. “From the moment I talked to him before he committed, I realized this guy had something special inside of him. When the quarterback has that, it makes everybody better.”
Wilson said his family helped him grow up confident. His teammates and those who meet him describe other similar qualities.
One of his teammates said he was a bit of a diva off the field. Hey, most quarterback are.
Another teammate said Wilson was awesome but wouldn’t go as far as to declare him a “dog,” the ultimate player-to-player compliment nowadays.
I’m not sure quarterbacks can be “dogs,” anyway. That’s reserved for linemen and linebackers and the occasional hard-hitting safety.
While confidence is important, Grimes said Wilson’s defining attribute is his love of the game. This is evident is his devotion to game film and studying every nuance of his craft.
Wilson didn’t grow up a BYU fan – he’s from a Ute family – but still tries to pattern his style after a couple of former Cougars he admires: Taysom Hill and Steve Young. Wilson was impressed with how Hill was such a strong leader.
“If Taysom said it, his teammates would believe it,” Wilson said.
Wilson read Steve Young’s book “My Life, Behind the Spiral” and said he was amazed at how Young was so determined to rise up the depth chart.
“I’ve got to step up and take that leadership role,” Wilson said. “I need to make sure I can command the offense and lead by example, to push guys make sure we’re getting things done this year.”
There’s a lot on Wilson’s shoulders this year. If he can build on the success of last season, his teammates will ride the wave of confidence to bigger and better things. That great home schedule won’t mean much if the Cougars don’t win them, so owning LaVell Edwards Stadium is important.
Utah is 72 days away and Wilson’s confidence isn’t waning.
“We’re going to take it to another level,” he said.
Do you believe him?
His teammates do, and that could go a long way in 2019.