The Brigham Young University Football Program and the Analytics Revolution
BYU Studies Quarterly
Brigham Young University
What do the sports analytics revolution's new ideas about evaluating teams, positions, and recruiting say about the BYU football program's past, present, and future? I find that after adjusting for schedule difficulty, the coaching performance of the legendary LaVell Edwards resulted in 3.8 more points in margin of victory than that of Bronco Mendenhall, and 10.8 more points than that of Gary Crowton. I also find that the best of the LDS talent pool is concentrated at the most important positions; that BYU is currently operating near its optimum in acquiring players at the most important position (quarterback), but suboptimally at the second and third most important positions (left tackle and right defensive end/outside linebacker); that the recent hiring of a coach with well-known recruiting ability is expected to empower BYU to shift closer to the optimum; and, finally, that entering a "Power" football conference would affect the program's recruiting ability.
This article also details the program's response to the analytics revolution. I gauge the extent to which BYU football has adopted analytics and conclude that the outgoing staff has done so to a substantial though nonexhaustive degree, while the incoming staff's receptiveness to analytics varies among its top-level coaches, from warm to unknown. Results of this study hold implications for how Church-affiliated institutions respond to changes in the intellectual climate.