BYU’s New Nestorian Coach

November 27, 2004 | 69 comments

BYU must stop checking temple recommends at the door to the football coach’s office.

Star-crossed Coach Crowton has just lost his third season in a row. He will be asked to leave. Someone must replace him. This is the hot topic in Cougardom, all the hotter because there are no surefire LDS candidates. Oh, the Eagles’ Andy Reid could save us. But Andy Reid’s not coming.

It’s time, I think, for BYU to take a page out of Notre Dame’s book. Notre Dame has made a point of gathering in the top believing Jewish and Protestant scholars, people like Marsden in history and Plantinga in philosophy. That way they get professors of faith from a larger talent pool. We don’t do the same with our professors and I understand why. Catholics have the confidence of a millennia-long intellectual tradition while we’re still feeling our way. I don’t understand why we don’t do the same with our football coach.

Our football program doesn’t exist to make any points about continuing revelation or God’s Manhood or anything else distinctively Mormon. It exists to brand BYU and us by extension with an image of clean, faithful living and hard effort and success. A coach doesn’t have to be Mormon to do that. Look at Coach Grimes, who took a pay cut to come here from ASU, because he thought the conditions better fit his evangelical beliefs. A coach does have to be good, to do that, and the simple fact is that BYU will have better luck finding a good coach if they expand their pool of candidates. The right non-member coach could even send an ecumenical message that itself could open doors. BYU doesn’t have favor a non-member coach over the Mormon candidates, but they should think about it.

That’s my advice. I retail it confidently, knowing that no one will take it.

An announcement is expected next week.

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69 Responses to BYU’s New Nestorian Coach

  1. danithew on November 27, 2004 at 11:52 pm

    Nice post. I couldn’t agree more. The problem is that a non-LDS coach probably isn’t going to want to conform to an odd honor code or worry about whether his players are conforming to the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity. College football coaches have a hard enough time just being successful enough to keep their jobs while conforming to all the NCAA rules.

    One of the hardest things BYU coaches (of any sport) have to deal with is the high percentage of players who serve missions. It’s hard to keep a team together and synchronized when so many players are in the mission transition cycle.

  2. pete on November 28, 2004 at 1:25 am

    What does BYU do about the honor code, which acts as a de facto temple recommend requirement with respect to the word of wisdom and law of chastity? For the average non-religious gentile, the bar of complete abstention from alcohol, coffee, and extramarital sexual activity is pretty high. I suspect it is not significantly lower for non-LDS “persons of faith.” Most people who are serious about religion probably have no problem being *temperate* with respect to these activities, but BYU asks for more than temperance. Is it too much?

    Perhaps Grimes, Mitchell, and a handful of professors live the honor code to the letter, but it’s also possible that they themselves struggle with it and/or that other religious non-LDS would. (Of course, there are plenty of “dyed-in-the-wool” LDS with honor code problems.)

    If you are simply saying that there should not be a hard and fast rule that the head coach has to be a member of the church, I agree that’s how it should be. But given the university’s concern that the honor code be taken very seriously by those in the football program, it seems like a pragmatic approach to have such a requirement. Simply put, it doesn’t seem reasonable to ask a non-LDS to head up a football program expected to live the honor code with exactness (not to mention acting as a missionary presence for the church), even if that person is a person of faith. For the same reasons, it makes sense to require temple recommends rather than simply a record of baptism.

    That said, as a BYU fan, I long for the pre-internet pre-rape allegation days when BYU’s head football coach had not served a mission and the team had several non-LDS coaches and players who were not expected to be highly religious, but who generally represented BYU well on and off the field. I think those days are over.

  3. pete on November 28, 2004 at 1:28 am

    Sorry for repeating a couple of danithew’s points. I left my machine idle and didn’t see his comments before posting when I returned.

  4. Gordon Smith on November 28, 2004 at 2:55 am


    You were right about one thing: no one at BYU will take your advice.

    And I am not sure why they should. My impression is that the Board of Trustees views the football team as a missionary tool, and if that is your starting point, it makes sense to require the mouthpiece to be a temple recommend holder.

    BYU’s football program has a lot of problems at the moment, but having a requirement that a faithful Mormon be the head coach is not one of the problems, in my view. Besides, if the rumors are accurate, BYU has already found itself a new head coach in Kyle Whittingham.

  5. Gordon Smith on November 28, 2004 at 3:02 am

    One more thing. The controversy over this decision reminded me of the following verse from Fourth Nephi: “There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” As Adam surely knows, those in favor of the current coach are often referred to as “Crowtonites” and those opposed were the “anti-Crowtonites.” For my part, I think Gary Crowton has shown a lot of class through all of this, and I like him. I wish him all of the best in all of his future endeavors, but I think three consecutive losing seasons suggest the need for a change.

  6. quinn on November 28, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    well, for me it doesnt really matter since i went to UT in austin, and our football team is always good, but i think that BYU should get rid of the football program all together. it doesnt add to the academic value of a university, no student leaves more spiritual or more intelligent because of the football program.. i would be so bold as to say that brigham young and karl g. maeser and others in the early stages of BYU most certainly did not see athletics in school’s future.

  7. Adam Greenwood on November 28, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    I agree with everything Gordon Smith says in comment #5. I wish Coach Crowton all the best and future success. I just don’t think BYU can afford to take a chance on him any longer.

  8. Ann on November 28, 2004 at 1:30 pm

    Mike Leach, the head coach at Texas Tech University, is a BYU alum and no slouch. Here’s his bio on the Tech web site:

    Mike Leach’s bio

  9. John T on November 28, 2004 at 2:02 pm

    I agree with Quinn above. The culture of NCAA 1-A football and that of a serious, faith-based institution don’t mix well. I think it would make a positive statement for BYU not to have a football team at the highest echelon of college football, as it appears to engender petty pride and misplaced personal identification with a group of 18-28? y.o. Athlete-students. It’s not all bad, however; these past 3 seasons have taught some important lessons in humility.

  10. danithew on November 28, 2004 at 7:37 pm

    It’s interesting that people have written that BYU ought to consider dumping its football program.

    I started writing that idea myself in my original comment but then I remembered that BYU football is supposed to be a tradition, that a lot of money was poured into a football stadium, that a lot of money has been poored into a new training facility …

    I don’t think BYU football is going away. That’s not what the money is saying.

    But maybe it would be a good idea anyway.

  11. Bryce I on November 28, 2004 at 8:11 pm

    Being out of the loop on BYU football (I’m suffering through Duke football here in NC), it seems to me that if Crowton is fired he’s getting a raw deal, if on-the-field performance is the primary reason for his dismissal. Most collegiate football (and basketball coaches) get four years to prove themselves, the theory being that by that point the coach has had a chance to get all of his own players on the team. At BYU, with a relatively high percentage of athletes serving missions, getting a team with all of your own kids who have had the full benefit of the program takes about six years.

    Of course, replacing a legend and competing with BCS-bound Utah doesn’t help matters any.

  12. dJake on November 28, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    With the money invested into the football program, and all of the alumni who live and die by BYU football, I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon, I dare say ever.

    The problem with bringing a coach to BYU who isn’t a member goes back to the Honor Code. Imagine trying to preach to the team the benefits of living the Honor Code when you don’t even live it yourself. And you can bet that a coach who was letting Honor Code violations slip would be history faster than you can blink.

  13. a random John on November 28, 2004 at 10:05 pm

    BYU’s best bet is to find some humility and go beg Norm Chow to come back. If they won’t do that (and I would be shocked if they did) then they should look outside the ranks of Mormondom, but find someone who is a class act. There are certainly LDS coaches that can win and don’t represent the church well.

    That said, I hope they keep Crowton for the rest of eternity. Make him an apostle while they’re at it. That will please the donors, right?

  14. Jim F. on November 28, 2004 at 10:24 pm

    “Our football program [. . .] exists to brand BYU and us by extension with an image of clean, faithful living and hard effort and success.”

    That is what we tell ourselves when we have to find ways to justify the football program. In the end, however, I bet it really exists because the alumni want it–period.

  15. Adam Greenwood on November 28, 2004 at 11:55 pm

    All the more reason to expand the search for good coaches. :)

  16. a random John on November 29, 2004 at 12:18 am

    Echoing Jim’s comments, if football had any eternal significance you can bet that Rick’s or whatever it is would still have athletics. BYU football fans have deep pockets, deep enough that the Y was able to build that new great and spacious indoor practice facility without using tithing money, right?

  17. Mark B on November 29, 2004 at 10:53 am

    Not only should they quit checking temple recommends, but they should also quit the sham of checking academic ability–either on the part of the jocks or the jock-strap checkers and coaches and all. We all know that they’re not real students, and we should be honest and skip the charade.

    While they’re at it, they should get away from the farce of supposing that BYU fans should behave civilly towards opponents, referees, BYU players, etc. I mean, if it’s good enough for the Palace at Auburn Hills, it’s good enough for the Cougars at Lavell.

    Of course, as long as the university has declared moral bankruptcy, why not toss any pretense at academic integrity too?

  18. a random John on November 29, 2004 at 12:01 pm

    Mark B.,

    Are you telling me that all that hasn’t happened already?

  19. Adam Greenwood on November 29, 2004 at 3:15 pm

    Obviously Mark B. and the football program aren’t two hearts beating as one. I wonder, though, did he mean to imply that hiring a non-LDS coach was moral bankruptcy? Mark B., over to you.

  20. Mark B on November 29, 2004 at 5:05 pm

    Not at all, Adam. The religion of the coach is not relevant to the issue of the moral bankruptcy of big-time college athletics. That’s sort of like asking the religion of the madame at the whorehouse.

    To a random John: that’s a subject for another, longer day.

  21. Ivan Wolfe on November 29, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    My big beef with the BYU football team is that it eats up so much money, so in order to comply with Title IX, BYU had to cut the real sports like Wrestling.

    Bu there aren’t enough alumni (like me) who want a wrestling team, I guess.

  22. Mark B on November 29, 2004 at 9:03 pm


    If the emphasis were on getting people out of the stands (or out of their easy chairs) and into intramural or club sports, then there’d be plenty of room for real amateur athletics for large numbers of people, without the cesspool, and without running afoul of Title IX.

  23. ronin on November 29, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    My friend Jeff Holtry played football and wrestled at BYU, though, I think it is a shame that an olympic sport like wrestling got dropped at BYU, thanks to Title IX.

  24. Ivan Wolfe on November 29, 2004 at 11:33 pm

    I haven’t wrestled since High School, but it is still my favorite sport. My dad wrestled in College and almost made it into the Olympics.

    A student he coached in High School (Tela O’Donnell) did make the USA Women’s Wrestling team and competed in Athens.

    Anyway – I don’t blame Title IX so much as I do the 80 scholarships that go to the football team – making it impossible to truly fund any other men’s sport besides Basketball.

  25. Austin Frost on November 30, 2004 at 1:22 am

    It’s not Crowton’s fault, nor is it a coaching problem. The real problem is the fact that the Y no longer has a monopoly on top-notch LDS athletes, and the honor code prevents many non-LDS (or LDS for that matter) athletes from coming to Provo. BYU can either return to Jim McMahon days when the honor code was not applicable to great athletes, or they will have to deal with mediocrity.

    I think that Cougar fans need to stop hoping for BYU football greatness, and start watching the men’s volleyball team: they’re pretty good.

  26. Clark on November 30, 2004 at 2:51 am

    Ivan, I was under the assumption that BYU Football actually earned money overall. Maybe not the last couple of seasons, but overall once you consider donations, income from TV and bowls and so forth.

  27. Gordon Smith on November 30, 2004 at 8:22 am

    Ivan, I am not familiar with BYU’s athletics budget, but I can tell you that football and men’s basketball are the only income-producing sports at the University of Wisconsin, and football generates a lot more than basketball. The bottom line (pun intended) is that football funds all of the other sports, including wrestling. I would be shocked if BYU’s football program does not play a similar role in BYU’s athletic department.

  28. Adam Greenwood on November 30, 2004 at 8:37 am

    I’m not an expert, but I’ve heard the same thing: BYU football, and basketball to a certain extent, funds the rest of the athletic department.

  29. Ivan Wolfe on November 30, 2004 at 9:46 am

    Gordon, Clark -

    It’s not tht football and basketball don’t make money (they do) –

    but under title IX, there has to be equal distribution among make and female sports. So, when Football has 80 scholarships, and with no equivalent female sport, that means men’s wrestling and other male spots have to be cut to make up the difference.

    I think Football could still make money and have only, say, 45 scholarships, and the money saved from the other 35 scholarships could go to fund other men’s sports. I don’t really believe sports on the college level should be solely about the profit margin. Wrestling (and a about half a dozen other men’s sports at BYU) were cut so that money could be freeded up for Football and Basketball.

    (Yeah, I don’t like Title IX, but I’m resigned to the fact its never going to go away, since Bush has refused to do anything on it).

  30. Mark B on November 30, 2004 at 12:04 pm

    I’m not sure that any university is honest and open about its athletic department budget. In that area, the university bean counters could give the WorldCom folks a run for our money.

    The fact is that, whatever the revenues, football is a great money sump, the great black hole of athletics department budgets. From taping (not videotaping, but ankles and whatever else) budgets that can run close to a million bucks for the season, to uniforms (compare the cost of a helmet alone to the costs of a singlet and spikes for the cross-country runner), to hotel rooms for the team on nights before the game (even home games), to the great and spacious temples of sweat (from the stadium to the indoor practice building), to coaches’ salaries (so the university can hire earnest illiterates like the current incumbent), and on and on, the football program eats money like the government, and dropping a few athletic scholarships won’t make much of a difference in the overall costs.

    The greater cost is not financial, but ethical and moral. Long before the “no sex” and “no beer and drugs” provisions of the honor code are breached, there’s the whole farce of running a semi-pro football team at a university, where admissions officers overlook standards and professors give passing grades to “keep Joe Jockstrap eligible” and where jocks pretend to be students (rather like the old Soviet model of “we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us”). How can we expect the jocks to think the university is serious about the no drugs, alcohol and sex rules when it is clearly not serious about academic standards for the athletics department, either for the “faculty” or the “students”?

  31. danithew on November 30, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve got to think that an LDS athlete who obeys the honor code could also be a great athlete. The problem is that this LDS athlete might be unavailable for a couple of years during which conditioning and training wouldn’t be up to standards.

    I’m just wondering if having a football team is vital to BYU. I’m not sure I’m able to see how beneficial (or not) the football program really is these days. If BYU football had a fabulous system this year I might not even be saying anything … but since its been a dismal season I’ve become willing to consider the idea that BYU football might be expendable to the university. Perhaps the university could focus on other more important areas.

  32. Cougarduck on November 30, 2004 at 1:16 pm

    BYU’s whole football problem started when they changed their logo, and inexplicably made their team colors navy and brown (um, EW?!).

    Well, that and the fact that Lavell didn’t turn out to be one of the Three Nephites, after all.


  33. John T. on November 30, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    BYU should still have a football team, just not at the 1-A level. Look at the Ivys as an example of how football can work but with less emphasis. I think the church’s idea of “branding” and exposure via big time football is misguided. As an investigator, it is hardlly “faith promoting” to see Brady Poppinga dance over a crumpled quarterback, or BYU fans moan about being shut out of the BCS process, then get waxed by Hawaii in 2001. Maybe this reaches some shallow, feel-good Mormon wannabes, and since I assume a high percentage of fist-year converts pay tithing, it probably has a monetary benefit to the church over and above TV and gate receipts.

  34. Austin Frost on November 30, 2004 at 2:12 pm


    Of course an LDS honor-code-living athlete can be great, but greatness is relative, don’t you think? Obeying the WOW doesn’t mean you’re an automatic top-notch D-1A, highly touted and recruited athlete. BYU doesn’t get guys like that. They lap up the sloppy seconds of the PAC-10! Don’t kid yourself.

  35. Amira on November 30, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    Based on comments I’ve heard surrounding BYUI getting rid of its intermural sports programs, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see BYU go the same route at some point.

  36. Clark on November 30, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    I’d be very surprised if BYU ever got rid of its football program. It is too popular among everyone. It would take quite the major scandal to do so.

    BTW – BYU is expected to make an announcement regarding Crowton today.

  37. Ivan Wolfe on November 30, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    Mark –
    I tend to agree with you, but I know that the enitre BYU Wrestling team could have been maintained by less than the appoximate cost of half a dozne football scholarships.

  38. Ivan Wolfe on November 30, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    Uhm – “half a dozen.” I’m not sure what a dozne is.

  39. Frank McIntyre on November 30, 2004 at 3:59 pm

    A dozne is 42.

    So half a dozne is 21.

    Which is 12 reversed.

  40. Gordon Smith on December 1, 2004 at 3:07 pm

    It’s done. Crowton “resigned.”

  41. Zach Bloxham on December 1, 2004 at 6:44 pm

    The coaches are the short-list are ridiculous, except one…Mike Leach. Leach has a proven record in a much tougher conference. Texas Tech has taken the third or fourth tierTexas recruits (just a little better pool than BYU gets) and have made them a very competitive team in a terrific conference. Mike Leach has shown that he can plug people into his system and still have them compete at a very high level. Three seperate starting quarterbacks in the last three years and still the same impressive offensive numbers. I think this would be a great thing to have considering the Missionary program.

  42. Clark on December 1, 2004 at 7:56 pm

    Personally I think Bronco will get the job. What will be interesting is how he handles the offense. We already know he can handle the defense.

  43. Adam Greenwood on December 1, 2004 at 8:20 pm

    We shall see. There are Honor Code rumors about Mike Leach, but I have my doubts about them. I expect BYU can get to the bottom of them on their own, though, without me weighing in.

    The latest rumor over at is that Chuck Long, the Oklahoma OC, is LDS. He’d make a good candidate if he’d come.


  44. Austin Frost on December 1, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    BYU-Idaho is a different beast altogether. The reason they got rid of sports in Rexburg is because they were all a drain on the budget! Not one made any money! BYU-Idaho is essentially a diploma mill that allows the less motivated to attend an LDS school. They pump the students full of propaganda about how they are “rethinking education,” but all they’re really doing is cheapening education (fiscally and academically–with the exceptions of Brian Merrill and E.T. Thompson). BYU will NEVER get rid of sports…especially football.

    Why did BYU-I? Because they would be a Division I school (I-AA in football), and if they didn’t get into the Big Sky, they’d have to travel all over the nation at a great expense to the school. Tight Wad Bednar wouldn’t go for that!

    Last, when Pres. Hinckley was in Rexburg for the dedication of the Hinckley building, he said, “I know a lot of you are dissappointed that there is no football team here. Well, I saw your counterparts in Provo play last Saturday, and I’m not sure they should have a football team either!”

  45. Ivan Wolfe on December 1, 2004 at 11:24 pm

    Austin -

    I am a graduate of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) and I recieved an education there that was in many ways much better than my later years at BYU-Provo.

    Please refrain from insulting my favorite college.

    And they are re-thinking education – and doing a da** fine job of it.

  46. Gordon Smith on December 2, 2004 at 12:00 am

    Adam, the Chuck Long rumor looks like a canard to me. This appears to be “news” to everyone, and I just can’t believe that we would not have known he is LDS before now.

    Clark, fans will argue about the quality of our defensive players (lots of walk-ons), but I do not understand the fascination with Bronco. I was excited when he first went to BYU, but his defense gives up a lot of big plays and lots of points. We blamed the points on the offense last year, but that was not the problem this year. The clincher for me was when he did not have the defense in position to stop the fake punt against Utah. That was so obvious that a high school coach would have anticipated it.

  47. Mark B on December 2, 2004 at 9:53 am

    Remembering the heat that Bill Safire took for making fun of a name, I’ll fight the impulse to make fun of someone named after a wild horse. (It’s not, after all, his fault anyway.)

    But much of what is troubling about that semi-pro team BYU fields these days appears to be Mendenhall’s doing. The late hits, the unnecessary roughness penalties, the beating of chests and otherwise showing off after making a tackle–isn’t it the defensive coach that sets the tone?

    Someone ought to tell the boys to do their jobs, do it right, and quit boasting about it. I mean, they’re being paid to make tackles, aren’t they? So, make the tackle, go back to your position and shut up already.

    No, Bronco should be put on the next SUV out of town–he belongs in a real professional program, where people don’t have to maintain the pretense that they’re part of an educational institution.

  48. Jonathan Green on December 2, 2004 at 9:55 am

    On college football and college budgets, there was an interesting story in the NYT Magazine a few years back (“Football Is a Sucker’s Game,” Michael Sokolove; a link to a version of the story seems to be It’s long, but ever since reading it I’ve wondered how much of it applies to BYU.

  49. John T on December 2, 2004 at 11:43 am

    Mark B:

    Actually, one could start referring to it as Bronco’s “Danite Defense” and everyone in Mormondom would understand and accept their behavior!

  50. Clark on December 2, 2004 at 1:42 pm

    That link doesn’t work.

    Regarding Bronco, I’m not sure it is fair to blame penalties – especially offensive penalties – on him. Defensive ones I’ll grant you. But typically if the Defense breaks down it is in the second half because the offense can’t stay on the field long enough to give the D a rest. At least that is what is seems like to me.

  51. Jonathan Green on December 2, 2004 at 2:09 pm

    Sorry, it worked this morning. Now it doesn’t anymore. Let’s see if we can bring down another copy with all the T&S-driven traffic:'s%20Game.htm

  52. Austin Frost on December 2, 2004 at 2:55 pm


    Why are you so defensive? They’re not rethinking education, they’re dumbing it down and thinning the budget. If you went to Ricks, and they have indeed “rethought” education, then the school you defend is not the BYU-Idaho I went to is it? I’m glad you got a great education there…most don’t.

    They’re doing a poor job, and I can tell you why, but I doubt you’d listen (I’m willing nevertheless). I’d be glad to learn why you believe that their “rethinking” is successful and beneficial to the students and the campus.

    Ease up, buddy.

  53. Ivan Wolfe on December 2, 2004 at 3:17 pm

    Austin -

    you called BYU-Idaho a “diploma mill”

    That is patently offensive and you should have realized it would be to anyone who supports/attended BYUI.

    I’m sory you had a bad experience there. Please don’t generalize your bad experience to the whole college.

    It seems to me you’re the one on the attack – I can’t really help but being defensive. It’s like the guy in my class the other day, who, not knowing I was Mormon, ranted about those idiotic Mormons. Perhaps I’m just not Christlike enough, but I feel that attacks like that should not go unanswered.

    I’ll ease up if you do, in essence.

  54. Amira on December 2, 2004 at 4:08 pm


    As someone who has some close ties to BYUI and none to Ricks, I’d be interested to hear why you refer to it as a “diploma mill.” That is certainly not what I’ve seen, but I’ve not seen everything here.

  55. Austin Frost on December 2, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    Diploma Mill:

    1. Effort is not required to pass a class, let alone get a decent grade (with the exception of anatomy and physiology).

    2. “We don’t do research”…and they’re proud of it.

    3. My last semester there, the Honors department announced that the program was being cancelled. After some protest, it was given two semesters to give the program time to raise funds or if the funds did not become available to allow those enrolled an opportunity to fulfill the requirements to graduate with honors. They believed that the Honors Department was wasteful, unnecessary, and an unwarranted gift to the honors professors (because teaching a class with ambitious students is apparently easier).

    Along the same lines, the philosophy “department” (aka Brother Merrill) was also in jeopardy. Apparently the administration did not see the need for a student to learn philosophy because it was potentially damning to testimonies and apparently had no application in a real-world setting.

    I have no idea what happened, I transferred ASAP. I DO know that my definition of education and theirs was not consistent.

    That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like BYU-I or Rexburg. I enjoyed my time there, but I will not claim that they are anythnig like a fine educational institution. Rather they seem more like a diploma mill (although they are accredited, which counts for something).

  56. Ivan Wolfe on December 2, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    Austin -

    your post is full of ad hominem attacks, suppostions about motivations that you can’t possibly know, and general character assassination of the leadership at BYUI.

    I am a tad upset to hear the honors department is going. As for philosophy – well, I think its a shame, but philosophy departments are diminishing and dissappearing all over the country, not just at BYUI.

  57. Clark on December 2, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    Not much to say about Ricks/BYUI since I don’t know the details. However my understanding was that they thought that the move to a four year college would involve a large increase to the student body that didn’t pan out. Without those students, then it seems to follow that a lot of departments will have to be cut back. That may well account for some of the changes.

    I think that BYUI is a victim of the success and popularity of UVSC. Why go out in the boonies with little social life and rules that are frankly ridiculous and far more excessive of anything at BYU when you can go to Provo, be around the real BYU crowd, and join a college that frankly has grown surprisingly large the past few years. I don’t know about academics, but from everything I see UVSC has seriously committed to making many departments quite good. They hired Dr. Evenson, former Dean at BYU, to help with the physics department. They’ve brought in some good philosophers and I’ve heard similar things about other departments.

    It really seems a no brainer. If you can’t get into BYU due to grades, then go to UVSC. I think that the Church really needs to rethink its aims with BYUI. (And I make no claims of knowing what the original aims were, except that it really hasn’t become the alternative to BYU that some claimed it would become)

    Getting back to football though, I will note that many people feel that loosing the Ricks football team has hurt BYU which used it like a minor league team it could draw upon. How true that is, I can’t say, but I’ve heard many people point out that this was one of the many extra pressures Crowton had to deal with.

  58. Ivan Wolfe on December 2, 2004 at 5:46 pm

    For Ricks (or BYUI) it was econmomics. Tuition is cheaper, and I got a better scholarship from Ricks than BYU-Provo. I still went to BYU-Provo after getting my associates, but If I can save money – why not? And the English faculty at Ricks were amazingly smart.

  59. Austin Frost on December 2, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    “Suppositions about motivations that you cannot possibly know.”

    I actually attempted to save the Honors program by speaking with the Honors Program director, the development coordinator (fund raising), the dean of the school of social sciences and religion, and a member of the administration (Packer was the last name, but I forget his first), and I think that they were pretty up front with me. They stated the reasons for canning the Honors Program were for financial reasons (the students had to maintain a 3.6 GPA, and the classes were smaller, thus they were less cost-effective.) Additionally, they said they were not certain that graduating with Honors had an affect upon admissions to graduate schools. They did mention that they thought smaller classes with more motivated students made the class “easier” to teach (Packer said that). I think I know more about it than you give me credit. After speaking with the development coordinator (and giving him a contact I had through a foundation that donated over a million dollars to BYU in the early 90s), I concluded that I couldn’t change their minds about the program. Ironically, I hoped that it would be expanded in the months prior to hearing that it was in danger of being cancelled.

    As for my “character assasination.” I think you may be commiting some ad hominem of your own. I called Bednar a tight wad. I call my dad the same thing.

    I’m glad you loved Ricks, and I’m glad you love BYU-Idaho. I don’t, but I know many people who do.

    Can you give me a list of schools that are cancelling Philosophy? You piqued my curiosity, and I’m certainly not above changing my attitude towards any situation.

  60. Clark on December 2, 2004 at 6:14 pm

    Austin, I think the issue many might see as inflammatory is the “don’t do research and proud of it” and “effort not required to pass.” The honors department, even as you describe it, seems a reasonable financial decision given the lack of increase of students. You may not like it, but clearly they will have to focus on the departments where they are successful. That’s just a fact of life.

    As I mentioned, it would have been nice for them to become more like BYU in terms of all departments. (Although BYU itself has dropped or scaled back several departments the past while)

    I should add that I’d probably agree with honors classes being easier than non-honors classes to teach, having been a TA for both. I’d actually go so far as to say honor classes are easier to get As in as well. Of course I’m speaking of BYU in the early 90′s.

    The point is that I’m not sure it is quite fair to lambast BYUI as a “diploma mill” for even the reasons you gave. The research bit seems beside the point. Some of the best teachers I had did the least amount of research. I disagree strongly with the assumption that research and teaching are correlated. I also disagree that an honors department necessarily provides a better education – especially as done at BYU. I took tons of honors classes and nearly got an honors degree until i realized at the end it would require staying yet an other year. The honors program is oriented around a broad liberal education – something which many colleges don’t embrace in the least. (Go to MIT and see what kind of liberal education you get)

    Likewise many small colleges have limited departments. So that, while unfortunate if one wants to see BYUI as being more like BYU, doesn’t seem to imply that the education one does get there is poor. At worst it might mean that for certain majors one ought not go there. Likewise if one wants a broad liberal education it might be a poor choice.

  61. Ivan Wolfe on December 2, 2004 at 7:26 pm

    Austin -

    re: supposition concerning motivations

    I was referring to your claim that the philosophy department was being scaled down because the admins at BYUI think philosophy destroys faith. I’m sure some admin somewhere might think that, but I doubt the whole admin. at BYUI does, and I know Bednar doesn’t believe that, and he has to sign off on the final decision in that area.

  62. Amira on December 2, 2004 at 7:45 pm

    I had plenty of classes at BYU that required no effort to pass. I think that is a common failing at many institutions.

    As for the research, I don’t know how that really influences the quality of the teaching. To me, the professors at BYUI are better able to spend time on teaching because of the lack of research.

    They have had a large increase in enrollment, apparently in line with what they were expecting. Some departments didn’t grow as much as expected, but others, like business, education, and construction management have grown a lot. The focus of the school is to provide a degree that will get a good job when you graduate, and not to prepare students for graduation. Students who want to prepare for grad school are often encouraged to transfer. I can see that a philosophy department might not fit in so well with this goal.

    I do think that the school could work on hiring professors that are a little more qualified in what they teach. We’ve seen more than one class taught by a professor who spends his or her Saturdays learning what they’re going to teach the next week. Not preparing, actually learning it. However, that is largely a result of fast growth.

    I may be biased, because we’re associated with a department that is growing, hiring, and generally doing well. The graduates are hired by good companies, and they have many internship opportunities.

  63. William Morris on December 2, 2004 at 8:01 pm

    Umm. Since when is BYU focused on research?

    Last I checked they were mainly an undergraduate/masters degree granting university. While there are more faculty at such universities doing research and bringing in federal grants it’s no where near what one would find at an R1.

  64. Austin Frost on December 2, 2004 at 8:06 pm


    Enrollment isn’t a problem. They’re growing as quickly as they can.

    I understand what everyone is saying, and thank you.

    Ivan: I was told that by admin.

    We’ve hijacked the thread, and for that I am sorry.

    I wouldn’t have any problem with BYU-I, if many people there (like Ivan) didn’t insist that it is the pinnacle of education. In addition, the “Rethinking Education” is bull.

  65. Ivan Wolfe on December 2, 2004 at 8:16 pm

    Austin –

    ah, well. You’ve been there more recently than I have and apparently have a lot invested in this particular issue. I’m relying on my own memories and the communications I have had with several friends in Rexburg and at BYUI.

    I’ll investigate a bit further – I don’t think BYUI is perfect, I just think there’s likely to be a lot of bumps in the road during the next few years as they complete the transition.

    Oh, well.

  66. Clark on December 2, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    Hmm. That’s interesting Austin. I’ve been told otherwise by people from up there at Ricksberg. (sp?) But if so, then I’m glad.

  67. a random John on December 2, 2004 at 9:18 pm


    Have you gone to MIT? They let you take any non-techie class at Harvard if you so desire. The main thing that MIT and Ricks have in common is that neither one has a football team. Of course the same could be said for BYU as well. (ducks!)

  68. Austin Frost on December 4, 2004 at 1:57 am

    Each year they break the record for largest enrollment. When I was there the head of the registrar hoped to top out the enrollment at 14k until more buildings were completed. If there are enrollment problems, that certainly isn’t what is portrayed in their Press releases and the student newspaper, The Scroll.

  69. Mark B on December 14, 2004 at 10:20 am

    So, the guy whose puffed-up charges have been strutting around the field, proud as peacocks for tackling somebody, piling up penalties for piling on, late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct gets punished by . . . being hired as head coach!!!


    The best thing about Lavell Edwards is that he looked as if he didn’t give a hoot (although the results said otherwise). It’d be nice if Bronco (good grief!) could bring that back.

    That brings up another problem. At least with Lavell, you know that his parents didn’t think they were rearing a horse, or a jackass. (Can “bronco” ever be applied appropriately to that noble animal?)


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