November is a special time of year, as both college football and college basketball are in full swing. BYU fans can watch their Cougars play on both the gridiron and the hardwood. While the football team is probably too busy preparing for its next game to pay attention to what the basketball team is doing and vice versa, these two squads could learn from each other.
Since the basketball team came up with a big win on the road and the football team didn't, we'll focus on what the Cougars on the hardwood can teach the Cougars on the gridiron.
Lafe Peavler is a sportswriter intern at the Deseret News.
As good as head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been, the football team has been notorious for losing early season games since he came to Provo. He has a 19-17 record in the first four games of every season since he's been head coach. Even some of Mendenhall's better teams — including the 2006, 2007 and 2009 squads — lost two games early in the season that prevented them from potentially grabbing a BCS bid.
That disturbing trend continued this season as the Cougars dropped games to Virginia and Utah within the first four games.
On the other hand, basketball coach Dave Rose makes it a point to win those early-season games. He's 67-15 in the first 10 games of each season since taking the head coaching job. Granted, this is an imperfect comparison, but Rose has won at least 60 percent of his early-season games every year.
Coach Mendenhall's record against arch-rival Utah is far from stellar. While the football team has won some spectacular games against the Utes, including the "Answered Prayer" and "4th and 18," he's still 3-6 against Kyle Whittingham.
That's a troubling record.
Meanwhile, Rose is 12-3 over the Runnin' Utes and owns a seven-game winning streak. Perhaps Rose could give Mendenhall some pointers on how to prepare his players to beat their biggest rival.
Both the football and basketball programs are putting increased emphasis on speed this season. Robert Anae has the "go fast, go hard" offense and Rose is using the run-and-gun to get the job done.
So far, it's clear which team is doing a better job with the up-tempo offense.
While Anae's offense is a drastic improvement over last season, the football team is still leaving too many points on the field. BYU has been in the red zone 41 times this season, but it has only scored touchdowns 20 times. Plus, it doesn't help the team when the offense goes three-and-out in record time. Wisconsin dominated time of possession 36:02-23:58 in part because of that.
Meanwhile, in basketball the Cougars torched Stanford 112-103 on the road. The team runs a blistering pace like the football program does, but the biggest difference is that the basketball team turns a higher percentage of those possessions into points.
In recent years, BYU football has struggled under Mendenhall to transition once key players move on, particularly at quarterback.
Take Max Hall's senior year as an example. BYU finished 11-2 and ranked No. 12 in both polls Hall's senior season. Since then, the Cougars barely broke the Top 25 in the Coaches Poll in 2011. The Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson eras turned out to be disappointments.
In a way, BYU is still making the transition to the Taysom Hill era, and it's been four seasons since Hall left.
The basketball program has done a better job at moving on after a star leaves. After all, BYU has gone 50-21 since Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery graduated. While the Cougars haven't been able to return to the Sweet 16 without Fredette, this team is in better shape than the football program was after losing Hall.
Mendenhall needs to work on managing expectations.
Remember the "Quest for Perfection" in 2008? That came to a crashing halt as TCU thumped the Cougars 32-7.
Also, Mendenhall has emphasized that BYU's goal since going independent is winning the national championship. The problem is that the Cougars are still light-years away from winning it all, as we clearly saw against Wisconsin on Saturday. Mendenhall isn't doing himself, his team or BYU fans any favors by setting these lofty expectations and failing to meet them.
Rose is better at managing expectations. BYU fans expect the Cougars to compete for the WCC Championship and make it to the NCAA tournament every year, and for the most part Rose has delivered. You don't hear Rose emphasizing that a national championship or a Final Four appearance is his goal.
Furthermore, the basketball team has progressed more than the football team. After all, Rose did take BYU to a Sweet 16 game not too long ago.
Clock management has consistently been a problem in the Mendenhall era. Last week's loss against Wisconsin provided plenty of examples.
In the final drive that started with just 2:12 left on the clock, the Cougars wasted valuable time, particularly on the three-yard Algernon Brown rush on 1st and 10 from the 28. Also, the decision to punt with less than 8 minutes to go and down three scores on the BYU 43 was baffling.
You don't hear about the BYU basketball team having similar issues, and that speaks volumes.
Well, at least the football program is starting to catch on.
While some may like an SEC-style 6-3 defensive battle, that's not what BYU is known for. BYU's thrilling 47-46 win over Houston was a good reminder of how fun shootouts are.
Basketball by nature is a more up-tempo sport, and there are few things more painful to watch than an ugly, low-scoring game. Rose's run-and-gun offense isn't just effective, it's also fun to watch.
One of the reasons Rose is so successful is because he takes the time to develop his players. Rose rotates a lot of players off the bench in the preseason and early in the regular season to both find the best rotations for his team as well as to develop his backups. That's one of the reasons why BYU can make transitions when players leave or are injured.
And while Mendenhall does an excellent job of developing players on defense — take Kyle Van Noy, for example — the offense still needs some work. This is particularly apparent on the offensive line.
Both the football and basketball teams went on the road last week against quality competition. The football team looked lost against Wisconsin. Both the offense and defense struggled to make plays they usually execute against the Badgers.
Meanwhile, the basketball team went into Maples Pavilion and acted like it owned the place. BYU dictated the pace to Stanford, and the Cardinals couldn't keep up. In short, the basketball team was able to play its game while the football team was out of sync outside of LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Of course, this is just a recent example, and Wisconsin is better at football than Stanford is at basketball.
That said, BYU football's road woes extend to places like Virginia, San José State, Notre Dame, Boise State and Utah. Meanwhile, BYU basketball has won at places like San Diego State and Arizona as well as at neutral sites against Utah State, Oregon and Louisville.
Both Mendenhall and Rose win a high percentage of their games. Rose has won 76 percent of his games while Mendenhall has won 71 percent. However, one thing sets Rose above Mendenhall: his number of quality wins.
Mendenhall's biggest wins include the 2009 season opener against then-No. 3 Oklahoma, and BYU's 40-21 win over Texas is looking better and better as the Longhorns are 6-0 in the Big 12.
The basketball team had a big win over Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament that sent the Cougars to the Sweet 16. Before that, BYU's double-overtime win over Florida that sent the Cougars to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years.
And who can forget when Jimmer Fredette dropped 49 points at Arizona?
It's a simple formula, but teams play the game to win.