NCAA softball snubs the final straw as BYU eyes the Large 12 | opinion

Everyone knows what occurred to the 2 little pigs who constructed their houses out of sticks and straw. The massive, unhealthy wolf huffed and puffed and, nicely … ended their seasons.

The third pig, bolstered by a home of bricks, was put in a greater place for fulfillment when the surface menace got here calling.

After BYU softball watched its season finish prematurely by the hands of the NCAA Choice Committee, the one sole obtainable is figuring out admittance into the Large 12, or a home of bricks, is on its means.

Whereas the WCC and soccer independence has served a valiant goal for the Cougars, July 1, 2023, cannot get right here quickly sufficient for softball coach Gordon Eakin or his BYU colleagues.

BYU’s weekend snub was the final straw — no less than for the 2021-22 sports activities 12 months.

When Violet Zavodnik and the Cougars defeated Saint Mary’s on Saturday, they not solely prolonged this system’s longest profitable streak to 17 video games and completed the common season with the applications finest document (42-10), however additionally they claimed their thirteenth straight convention championship.

If popularity is even barely thought-about as a bonus to make the case for an at-large invitation, BYU was sitting fairly. As well as, the Cougars went 6-3 in opposition to Energy 5 groups with all three defeats to nationally ranked applications — No. 13 Oregon, no. 17 Tennessee and No. 23Arizona State.

What BYU could not overcome is the league it performs in, which left the Cougars with an RPI of 52 and out of the event. The WCC, except co-champion LMU, is a marshmallow softball league — as mushy as they arrive. Or no less than, that is how the choice committee sees it and so they had no drawback roasting it on the finish of the season.

In actuality, BYU might have closed up store after LMU beat them 1-0 on April 9, the opening weekend of league competitors. That sport was used on Saturday because the tiebreaker to find out the convention champion.

The Lions, 36-15, had been admitted into the event with the league’s computerized bid whereas the Cougars, 42-10, with P5 wins over Cal, Rutgers and tourney-bound Stanford, had been unnoticed for the primary time in 16 years.

BYU had sufficient wins to get in. The issue is simply too lots of these wins had been within the WCC. For the Cougars, it is like watching the identical ending to a tragic film over and over.

Girls’s volleyball

Recent off BYU’s first-ever 18-0 run via the WCC, the ladies’s volleyball group, ranked as excessive as No. 5, had been branded as a no. 11 seed for the NCAA Match — the identical because the 12 months earlier than.

The one loss through the 2021 common season was a Sept. 10 defeat at No. 3 Pittsburgh. The Cougars responded by profitable the subsequent 25 matches.

They deserve a greater seed, however the WCC, a pleasant volleyball league, could not give them any sort of a lift. To BYU’s credit score, they marched into the Candy 16, the place no. 5 Purdue beat them on Pittsburgh’s house flooring.

BYU (30-2) completed the season ranked No. 9. The Cougars had essentially the most wins with the fewest losses of all however one (Louisville) of the 340 NCAA girls’s volleyball groups and but, popping out of the WCC, one of the best the NCAA might give them was an 11 seed.

Girls’s basketball

Jeff Judkins‘ girls’s basketball group completed 26-4, together with a 15-1 document and regular-season champions within the WCC. BYU completed 14-0 at house and 5-1 in opposition to P5 applications, with top-25 wins in opposition to Florida State and West Virginia on the street.

Regardless of their success, the Cougars could not get any greater than No. 16 within the nationwide polls. Granted, 16 was the best rating in program historical past, however the ceiling that blocked them from climbing greater was the dearth of schedule power within the WCC.

nach dropping the convention event remaining to Gonzaga, one other NCAA event group, the choice committee put BYU as a disappointing six seed and despatched them to the Michigan quadrant, the place the No. 3-seeded Wolverines would have home-court benefit.

BYU struggled and misplaced to 11-seed Villanova and made a rapid exit within the first spherical.

Males’s basketball

After reaching a no. 13 nationwide rating final November, Mark Pope‘s Cougars seemed to be on their strategy to a second look within the Large Dance in simply his third season as head coach. COVID-19 canceled the 2020 event.

Pope put collectively a preseason schedule that he thought would bolster BYU’s probabilities. Nevertheless, after struggling to a fifth-place end within the WCC and shedding within the quarterfinals of the convention event, the Cougars had been left on the NCAA Match bubble and despatched to the NIT.

“We performed a top-30 hardest schedule within the nation,” Pope informed the Deseret Information after BYU’s loss to San Francisco on the WCC event. “I feel there’s 4 groups ranked forward of us which have performed a more durable schedule within the nonconference. That issues or it would not.”

It mattered to Pope, however to not the choice committee. The WCC, whereas higher than in earlier years, wasn’t sturdy sufficient to choose BYU again up after it fell down throughout league play.

soccer

The WCC would not take part in soccer, however BYU’s run as an Unbiased requires the identical close to perfection to make its nationwide case. The Cougars completed final season 10-2 with a 6-1 document in opposition to P5 applications.

Dwelling outdoors a P5 convention and their respective bowl video games, nevertheless, relegated BYU to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Zach Wilson‘s magical 2020 season was additionally impacted by a weak schedule and restricted entry to a giant bowl sport. the no 8 Cougars even scheduled a street sport in opposition to No. 14 Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5 and performed them on three days’ discover to attempt to bolster their place for a New 12 months’s Six bowl sport.

Ultimately, BYU fell one yard quick when Dax Milne was tackled on the aim line as time expired in a 22-17 defeat. The Cougars went on to win the Boca Raton Bowl and end 11-1. The final main bowl sport BYU has performed in was the 1997 Cotton Bowl Traditional in opposition to future Large-12 foe Kansas State.

Home of bricks

Independence, just like the WCC, has supplied BYU with a pleasant house constructed of sticks and hay in a largely pleasant neighborhood. However, with soccer as an exception, when the large unhealthy wolf (NCAA choice or bowl committees) huffs and puffs at its credibility, the home crumbles and the occupants are left scrambling to remain alive in relevance.

Happily, assistance is on the best way.

The Large 12 is a home fabricated from bricks. The Cougars will discover security there. They may also discover the competitors degree is greater at each degree. Large 12 soccer despatched seven groups to bowl video games final season, together with the Sugar Bowl. Males’s basketball despatched six groups to the Large Dance and gained the championship. Girls’s basketball additionally despatched six groups to the NCAA Match. Girls’s volleyball despatched seven groups. Softball is sending three groups to this week’s event.

Whereas will probably be troublesome within the Large 12 for BYU soccer to complete 10-3, basketball 24-10, girls’s basketball 26-4, girls’s volleyball 30-2, softball 42-10 or girls’s soccer 13-4-1 (nationwide runner -up), the fact is, they will not must. Perfection will not be required in a league sturdy sufficient to deal with defeats.

The 1-0 loss six weeks in the past that stored BYU softball out of the NCAA Match, regardless of the 17-game profitable streak that adopted, will not be an excessive amount of to beat. In actual fact, a Large 12 group that finishes the season 42-10 and on a 17-game profitable streak can be ranked among the many high 10 — simply as No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Oklahoma State are in the present day.

BYU has yet one more full 12 months of competitors as an impartial in soccer and as a member of the WCC within the different sports activities. It’s fairly potential that the assorted NCAA choice committees will carry extra disappointment because the Cougars stay susceptible of their non-P5 standing.

However their houses of sticks and straw at the moment are non permanent. BYU can see the home fabricated from bricks that’s ready for them simply down the street. As soon as inside, the Cougars will lastly be in a spot the place the profitable will not be straightforward, however no less than it is going to matter. A spot the place outdoors voices can huff and puff all they need, however will not be capable to blow the home in and finish a season prematurely.

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret Information and is the studio host for “After Additional Assessment,” co-host for “Countdown to Kickoff” and the “Postgame Present” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv.

Cougar players meet teammate Huntyr Ava in front of the dugout after Ava's home run during game against Iowa State in Provo.

Cougar gamers meet teammate Huntyr Ava in entrance of the dugout after Ava’s house run as BYU and Iowa State play an NCAA softball sport in Provo on Saturday, March 26, 2022. BYU gained 11-7.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret Information

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