PROVO — A little more than one year ago, BYU announced it was going independent in football and had signed an eight-year broadcasting deal with ESPN.
From an exposure standpoint, it's been a great move for the Cougars. On the other hand, from an exposure standpoint, it's had a negative impact, too.
BYU recorded a come-from-behind victory over Ole Miss in the season opener on ESPN, then fell by one point at Texas on ESPN2. Then the Cougars were downright exposed in last Saturday's embarrassing 54-10 blowout loss at home to Utah on ESPN2.
Yes, exposure can be a double-edged sword.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged Monday that his program took a big hit in terms of national respectability over the weekend.
"We were mistake-laden and had a lot of miscues," he said about the setback to the Utes. "A lot of people saw that (on ESPN2) and that might have damaged our credibility. That takes time then to rebuild."
The Cougars will have a chance to rebuild that credibility, or damage it further, when they appear on ESPN the next two Fridays against Central Florida and Utah State.
"If we don't respond, it certainly could set us back," he said. "If we are able to respond and finish with a strong season, and with how many wins, certainly increases your chances (of moving the program forward). That is something I have to acknowledge right now as we prepare for UCF. The more wins we can get, the better in our first year of independence. As we already can see, it won't be easy."
BYU will play three Friday games on ESPN this season. Mendenhall would prefer to play on Saturdays, but it's all part of being an independent program.
"It certainly makes it difficult to prepare, but with this being the first year of independence some concessions have to be made to get the exposure we are hopeful for," he said. "Hopefully, I can coach the team to a level that we are playing at a level high enough where the exposure really helps us."
BRIGHT SPOTS: Obscured by BYU's 44-point setback to the Utes were a couple of solid individual performances.
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman tied his career-high with eight receptions for a career-high 138 yards. He recorded 277 yards of all-purpose yardage, including 139 yards on kickoff returns.
Punter Riley Stephenson averaged 46.5 yards on six punts, including a career-long 65-yarder.
BYU VS. THE SUNSHINE STATE: BYU's all-time record against teams from the state of Florida is 1-5. The Cougars are 0-4 against Florida State and 1-1 against Miami (Fla.).
Friday marks BYU's first meeting with Central Florida.
The Cougars and Knights scheduled a home-and-home series beginning with this game. BYU will travel to Orlando in 2014 for the return game.