I'm sure that every day for the past two years somebody has caught me in the mall, in the street, in church, wherever and asked me what's going on. —Tom Holmoe on the Big 12
BYU kicked off its football media day on Thursday, and there's plenty to take away from BYU's state of the program.
We heard from several key people at BYU, from athletic director Tom Holmoe to new head coach Kalani Sitake to returning starting quarterback Taysom Hill. Here's 10 of the biggest takeaways from BYU's Media Day.
1. Taysom Hill can dunk
Sitake talked about some basketball news with quarterback Taysom Hill.
"Someone asked him to dunk a basketball and he did it," Sitake said. "So it's the old hey if somebody told you to jump off a bridge type of deal. It was a good teaching moment for Taysom. We're going to have to teach him to slide and step out of bounds once in a while."
Still, Sitake did appreciate the humor of the moment.
"It was nice to see him dunking the basketball. It wasn't the nicest dunk I'd ever seen," Sitake said. "After the second one, that was enough."
And in case you were wondering if Sitake can dunk.
"I was going to join in the dunking, but the rim was too high," said Sitake with a smile.
All joking aside, it was good to hear that the senior quarterback had recovered from injury enough to jam.
2. ESPN's Trevor Matich thinks coach Sitake is a good fit for BYU
ESPN college football analyst and BYU alumni Trevor Matich talked at length about coach Sitake's fit at BYU.
"As I travel the country and I visit with the most successful college football coaches in the nation, they always say that you win with people, and you win by understanding the culture and the innate advantages of the institution," Matich said. "Coach Sitake, because he played here at the highest level, because he served a mission, everything these players are going through he went through. He understands."
3. BYU announces 6 game times for 2016
BYU announced the times and TV information for six games next season. All times below are in Mountain Time.
The Cougars will open the season against Arizona Saturday Sept. 3 at 8:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. BYU then travels to Utah on Saturday, Sept. 10, with coverage on Fox at 5:30 p.m. The Cougars then host UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2. They'll play Toledo at home on Friday, Sept. 30, at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN2. Later in the season they'll host Mississippi State on Friday, Oct. 14, at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN. Finally, the Cougars will face SUU at home at 1 p.m. on BYUtv on Nov. 12.
"It's a little bit of a two-edged sword," Holmoe said of the late starts. "We want exposure. We want access. We've gone across the country and tried to bring our team to everywhere in the country and to all the different conferences and to play the best teams and the storied programs. But to do that, you have to sacrifice a little bit."
4. Tom Holmoe talks about the Big 12
Holmoe talked at length about the Big 12 Conference and BYU's hopes of getting in.
"I'm sure that every day for the past two years somebody has caught me in the mall, in the street, in church, wherever and asked me what's going on," Holmoe said. "I would love to see our team play at that level. To play in a P5 conference."
Holmoe said that BYU is not at the table in discussions with the Big 12. "The Big 12 has gone through this process very professionally, "Holmoe said. "They're not wanting to make it a public discussion. It's not in our best interest to be pushing the envelope and to be out there every single day. They're well aware of what we've done the stats and the records speak for themselves."
As far as what BYU needs to do, Holmoe said, "We need to be able to play football the best we can this year, keep playing, winning championships, having successful All-Americans and being at the top."
Some folks on the internet have claimed that BYU's contract with ESPN would hurt BYU's chances of joining the Big 12, but Holmoe put an end to that talk.
"We have a great relationship with ESPN. I think the BYUtv ESPN relationship is really symbiotic," Holmoe said. "Both of those entities are supportive of us moving in that direction."
BYU's no Sunday play policy also came up. "That's up to the P5 conferences," Holmoe said. "What I do know is that's something we hold very sacred. We have never played on a Sunday and we're not going to play on a Sunday."
5. BYU scheduling like a P5 team
Holmoe also talked about his reasoning behind BYU's tough schedules.
"The schedule that we have set for this team this year is a great schedule. But that's the way the P5s play every year. I want out players, and not just in football but in all of our sports, to be able to play at the highest level," Holmoe said. "So we're imitating that schedule right now."
6. Coach Sitake's thoughts on the BYU-Utah rivalry
Coach Sitake was asked about what direction he'd like to take the rivalry with Utah and his relationship with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
"First of all, I worked for Kyle Whittingham and I've spent a lot of time with the University of Utah program. First and foremost, he's a BYU graduate. He's part of our family. The rivalry, it's fun but you don't have to wish bad things on others," Sitake said. "We know each other, we'll always be friends, but I want to beat him so bad."
7. Sitake calls his assistants 'silent assassins'
Sitake had great things to say about his new assistant coaches.
"I was very excited I was able get all three of them," Sitake said, meaning offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, defensive coordinator Iliasa Tuiaki and assistant head coach Ed Lamb. "I'm lucky to have these guys here with me. I feel very honored to have the rest of the staff and guys that I work with. I go to work every day to a room of people I call family."
Sitake poked a little fun at Detmer. "He had cowboy boots and a huge belt buckle," Sitake said of early meetings with Detmer. "I lost the belt buckle, but not the boots," Detmer responded with a smile.
Sitake also had this to say about his assistants:
"They're humble men, and I love how they go about their business. But at the same time, don't mistake humility for weakness, because these guys know how to get it done. They're all silent assassins when it comes to coaching football."
8. BYU shifting to four-front defense.
The new defensive coaching staff will be shifting BYU's old three-front defense to a four-front defense this season.
"We're going to be a little bit of both, but we're primarily going to be four down," Tuiaki said. "If you want to pressure a quarterback you're better with four than with three."
As far as the difficulty of the transition, "It's been an easy transition for our kids," Tuiaki said. "I think it's been pretty good so far."
9. Notes at center and quarterback
BYU's offensive coaching staff gave us some information about position battles at center and at quarterback.
"We finished spring ball and Parker Dawe was playing center. We'll probably start where we finished," offensive line coach Mike Empey said. "We have a couple of new faces with us with Keyan Norman and Tejan [Koroma] back with us. As we get going in the fall, we might have some changes. Tejan is in great shape. They're all bigger and stronger."
As far as the quarterback situation, Detmer made it clear that BYU's starter will be known before the season opener against Arizona.
"The first couple weeks at camp you're giving everybody reps, you're putting in the offense you want and you're evaluating. As you get later on, you start narrowing it down. You decide who will be taking those first snaps and start a game plan," Detmer said. "We want to go in knowing who that guy is and what we're going to do. So I'm not concerned with what Arizona knows and what they don't know."
So, it sounds like we'll know if Hill or Tanner Mangum will be the starter before the season opener.
10. Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams excited to be back
Both Hill and Williams missed most of last season, and both were excited to be back together at BYU for one more season.
"We actually planned it. We need one more year here," Taysom said with a laugh. "I'm excited to be back at BYU. I love BYU. I'm a BYU guy. And to have the opportunity to play with Jamaal again is so much fun. We kinda laughed the first day of spring ball. Who would have thought in 2016 we'd be back on the same team."
"I'm grateful to be back," Williams said. "I'm grateful to be back with my teammates again and to finish my last year with them. It's been emotional for me to be with them again for my last year."
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.