Athletes Are “Secret Sauce” of BYU Sports
By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer
If you wanted to find out the latest about BYU sports during BYU education week, you had one shot. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe gave a single presentation for 50 minutes on the state of BYU athletics before catching a plane. “It’s about the student athletes,” said Brother Holmoe. “They are the secret sauce of the department.”
To begin, he talked about Miles Batty, a recent BYU graduate who was both a scholar and top track athlete. He received the prestigious NCAA top 10 award (one of only 10 awards given in the nation) at the 2013 NCAA convention. “Miles Batty, in my opinion, is the greatest student athlete ever to be at BYU,” said Brother Holmoe. He joins the ranks of other student athletes such as Giff Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Steve Young, Ed Eyestone, Dylan Duncan Ceriani, and Ty Detmer.
At the same convention, Ceriani, a former BYU Cougar volleyball player, received the distinguished NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. “This award is given 25 years after graduation for outstanding achievements,” said Brother Holmoe. “Dylan is involved in developing prosthetics and holds several patents.”
In women’s soccer, 2012 was the most successful year ever in school history, said Brother Holmoe. The team advanced to the elite eight and were ranked second in the nation. The team was ranked no. 1 in the nation last year for attendance.
Football athlete Ziggy Ansah played as a senior defensive end last year and was drafted into the NFL. “He became the first Cougar since Rob Morris to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft,” said Brother Holmoe. “He was selected as the no. 5 overall pick. Ziggy joins Jim McMahon as the highest-drafted Cougar ever in the regular NFL draft.”
From the basketball arena, Tyler Haws is a student athlete who demands attention. As a sophomore, he scored more points (780) than any sophomore or junior in school history, said Brother Holmoe. Only three seniors—Jimmer Fredette, Danny Ainge, and Devin Durrant—have scored more points in a single season.
“For the fifth time in school history, the men’s volleyball team played for the NCAA national championship, falling to UC Irvine in the title match,” said Brother Holmoe. “The Cougars finished the season with a record of 26-5 and won the MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) title.”
Brother Holmoe then spoke about the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl and the amazing performance of athlete Kyle Van Noy. “He had eight tackles, 3 1/2 tackles-for-loss, 1 1/2 sacks, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble for a touchdown, returned an interception for another touchdown, and blocked a punt,” said Brother Holmoe. “I’ve never, never in Pop Warner, high school, college, or pro seen an individual do as much in one game.”
Speaking about the third year of BYU’s football television contract with ESPN, Brother Holmoe said that BYU is the only school in the nation that has an exclusive contract with ESPN. Over the past two football seasons, only eight other schools in the nation have played more games on television than BYU. Since Lavell Edwards took over the football program in 1972, BYU ranks no. 5 in the nation with overall wins at 375.
At the end of the presentation, Brother Holmoe took questions from the audience. Someone asked about former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon, who was drafted into the NFL and didn’t finish his education at BYU. In order to be inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame, a person must be a graduate. “We’re in communication with Jim,” said Brother Holmoe. “Jim is taking classes, and he’s on his way.”
Another question asked pertained to the effects of the missionary age change on BYU athletics. “It’s really thrown us into a curve this year,” said Brother Holmoe. “But we accept it like everybody does. It’s been great.”