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Behind the Scenes at BYU Sports Nation

It all starts when a former Cougar makes a tackle in the NFL, or a current Cougar gets recognition in a conference. It starts when Alexa Gray gets career high kills against Pepperdine or when Men’s Basketball reveals their new uniforms for the upcoming season. It all starts way before 7:30 a.m. when BYU Sports Nation Hosts Jarom Jordan and Spencer Linton meet with Producer Ben Bagley and his production team at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo, Utah to discuss everything that has transpired in “The Nation” within the last 23 hours.

The sun slowly rises over Lavell Edwards Stadium and casts a pink glow onto the Marriott Center as the team sits down to list all of the latest BYU news from Twitter, the media, press releases, interviews and personal conversations with Cougar coaches and players to make up all of the day’s potential content for Sports Nation. If you are a BYU sports geek, then this is your “Comic-con.” Jarom, Spencer, Ben and the team go nuts about anything Cougar blue for two whole hours. The room, bordering irreverent with all of the laughing and debating, doesn’t empty until Jarom, Spencer and Ben have a good idea about the day’s stories, trending topics and potential content that they will share over the air.

Ben’s team runs around like mad for about two hours; cutting audio clips, building fonts and story headlines for the broadcast, pre-tweeting interview reminders and creating video clips for the show. But, emerging from what seems like organized chaos comes all of the little things that make the show into what it is—from the touchdowns that made you cry like you did when you first saw the new Star Wars trailer, to the clever little tweet that says something like ‘Sit back, Relax, and Watch BYUSN’ with an attached GIF of Michael Jackson happily eating popcorn in a movie theater.

Now that content has been discovered, developed, polished and made presentable, we are ready to shoot the show. Spencer and Jarom are on the set of Studio B; Ben and his team are in the Production Control Room. Inside the control room there are 1.2 million (roughly) T.V. and computer screens all being used by someone to do something—whether that’s fonting the little texts that frequently pop up during the show or managing which shot we are going to use and when. There are headsets, buttons, knobs, cables, cameras...yeah, it’s like what Robocop is made of.

During the show, Ben and the team update Jarom and Spencer, who are in the studio, on content, upcoming tweets and show segments, as well as the occasional breaking news update. A whole team of 10-15 people work behind the Hosts to give them the exposure and information they need in order to get the stories and content that they’ve discussed in the morning meeting out to you, the audience in a succinct and timely manner. Because after all (cue music) everything we do is for you, the BYU Sports Nation.

After the show, everyone gathers together on the set to discuss how the show went and more importantly, how they could each improve the show in their own respects. The show is a living thing, made up of constantly updating conversation and events over the internet and on BYU campus. The people who make it come to life are constantly trying to innovate and create a better show to broadcast. Ben Bagley says it best: “Our aim, every day, is to inform and entertain all of BYU Sports Nation with news and interviews from the biggest names in BYU Sports.” How do Jarom, Spencer, Ben and the guys do that? By improving BYUSN one show at a time.

BYU Rugby Takes Fifth National Championship

BYU Radio sports update! 

BYU Rugby seized their fifth Varsity Cup National Championship trophy in the last minutes of the game, beating the California Golden Bears 30-27! They have now won the National Championship for four years in a row! Jonathan Linehan had an incredible game, with 3/3 penalty kicks and 3/3 conversions. 


After two disappointing losses to Pacific (3-4, 6-11), BYU Baseball pulled together an amazing 11-inning third game, winning 6-4. Sophomore Mason Marshall struck out six batters and threw five scoreless innings. Baseball will play Saint Mary's this weekend in a three-game series. 


BYU Softball swept the Santa Clara Broncos, winning all three games with total shutouts this weekend. (4-0, 5-0, and 8-0). Pitcher Mckenna Bull tied the BYU record for single-season victories with 32 wins and is hopeful for a 33rd this weekend when the Cougars will take on the UVU Wolverines. 


This week, BYU Radio will be broadcasting the following games:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015:

       BYU Softball vs. UVU [Home] @ 7 ET/5 MT

Thursday, May 7, 2015:

       BYU Baseball vs. Saint Mary's @ 8 ET/6 MT 

Friday, May 8, 2015:

       BYU Baseball vs. Saint Mary's @ 8 ET/6 MT 

Saturday, May 9, 2015:

       BYU Baseball vs. Saint Mary's @ 3 ET/1 MT 


ESPN's Trevor Matich on Cougars in the NFL Draft

by Alan Miller, Assistant Producer, BYU Sports Nation, May 5, 2014

It’s Draft week in the NFL, and for BYU, this years’ draft class could earn the program more respect in the league. This year, five Cougars were invited to the NFL Combine. Van Noy, Hoffman, Sorensen, Manumaleuna and Unga are all hoping to land a spot in the NFL. 

In the days leading up to the Draft, analysts, insiders, and even bloggers are constantly updating their Mock Drafts and Big Board’s. BYU Alum and ESPN Analyst, Trevor Matich, joined BYU Sports Nation and provided some insight on the Cougars’ place in the league. Rather than focus on who the teams would take with each pick, Matich told us how he thinks a few BYU prospects could find a home in the NFL.

On DB Daniel Sorensen: 

“Sorensen I think is going to be a really good defensive player in the league if you put him in the right position.” 

“He’s a safety that plays really in a triangle. If the tip of that triangle is in the C gap, kind of over the offensive tackle, and then it widens out to a base about 12 yards deep into the secondary. If you have him in that area covering and then when it’s a run have him go downhill into that C gap, he is fantastic.”

“You don’t want him out there covering tight ends like Dennis Pitta, you know, in space running all over the field, but he’s a guy who can be really helpful.” 

On WR Cody Hoffman:

“Cody Hoffman as a receiver impresses NFL scouts because of his ability to go up and make plays, I mean those 50-50 balls he comes down with.”

“The thing he’s got to show scouts is that he can run precise routes because really over the last couple of years here, the nature of the passing game has not been a timing situation. Instead of being drop, set, throw to a spot on time it’s more like let’s find a guy who’s open. Well that affects how scouts can evaluate Cody Hoffman because they haven’t seen him do as many of the timing routes. But for a guy that can climb up and catch a ball, he’s the guy.“

On LB Kyle Van Noy:

“Van Noy to me is the guy that has the most intriguing possibilities in the NFL. Because of the nature of offenses now in the league, which are a reflection of the nature of rule changes in the league, which make it harder to oppose the quarterback, you can’t hit him most of the time. You can’t hit receivers at certain points downfield. It makes it easier for the passing game in the NFL, easier for a lot of scoring to happen and that’s intentional.” 

“So if you have that kind of quarterback, good for you, it’s a quarterback league. If you don’t have that kind of quarterback, then what you need to do is degrade the other guys’ quarterback down to the level of yours. That means pass rush.”

“Kyle Van Noy is such a slippery, slick pass rusher because it’s hard to get your hands on him. He can be running right at what looks at a brick wall and then turn sideways like a little rat and just slips right through it and comes out the other side.”

In the Bronco era, only two players from BYU have been selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. With the versatility he offers, Van Noy looks to become the third. If his name is ready Thursday night, he’ll be the tenth 1st rounder in BYU history. 

Jamaal Williams: Dual Sport Athlete

by Alan Miller, Assistant Producer for "BYU Sports Nation" on BYU Radio

With spring football at an end and class all but dismissed, it looks like BYU Running Back Jamaal Williams will fill his spare time by joining the BYU track team. 

At this year’s Y Awards, BYU Track and Field Coach, Ed Eyestone, presented Jamaal Williams with an award, and as part of his presentation said, “I understand he’s pretty fast on the track as well.” 

With that subtle hint, rumors began to fly on whether Williams would be joining the BYU Track team at the end of spring football. Williams is no stranger to the sport. His mom was a track star at UCLA and his younger sister, Jaela, is one of the fastest hurdlers in the state of California. Williams also lettered on his high school track team before coming to BYU.

Eyestone was a guest on “BYU Sports Nation” April 15, and confirmed that Williams has been working out on the track team. “We saw Jamaal out to practice for the first day just yesterday and so we’ll see how things go,” he said. Eyestone also mentioned that they had met with Coach Mendenhall and that they realize the priority is football, but added, “If we have a young man who is doing well academically and is a responsible young man and we can add some things on the track side, we would certainly love to see that.”

There is already a natural bridge between the two sports in Sprint and Hurdle Coach Kyle Grossarth, who also works with the football team as a strength and conditioning coach. “Coach Mendenhall has a comfort level with Coach Grossarth, so hopefully in the future we’ll be able to see some of these athletes coming out,” Eyestone said.

Eyestone mentioned that any track coach should be a fan of other teams with gifted athletes. Lexi Eaton is another dual sport athlete who participates in the high jump during the basketball off-season and narrowly missed the NCAA Championship meet two years ago. 

“I would love to see (Williams) in a BYU Track uniform. We’ll see how these practices and workouts go. First of all, he needs to kind of establish himself as one of the faster guys. But I think he certainly has that capability. We’ve seen that talent on the football field and I’ve got to believe there’d probably be a place for him in the 4x100, at the very least,” Eyestone said. 

Eyestone added, that anytime you have great athletes out on the Track and Field team, it’s going to help, but that he hopes it will be a winning situation for both teams. “We want to do what’s best for Jamaal and what’s best for BYU football. If we can be an asset or an aid in that, then we would certainly love to do that.”  

It May Be March, But Football Is Still King

Everyone knows when it’s football season. This is America and I’m not talking about that round white ball you’re supposed to kick. I’m talking about America’s game. The hard-nosed, beat-you-down sport with a lemon-shaped ball. 

It’s football season when the leaves begin to change colors. 

It’s football season when the night air begins to embrace the cold chill of winter.

It’s football season when school is starting. 

It’s football season in March?


For BYU Sports Nation it’s always football season, and especially in March. March is the time when Coach Mendenhall and the Cougars display what the new season has in store, with the Spring Practice Scrimmage.

Now, it may not sound like a lot, but last Saturday’s scrimmage told BYU Sports Nation what to expect this coming season. 

Taysom Hill, who heads into his junior season, appears to be more focused than ever on his efficiency as a passer, especially with his touch on the deep ball, which seemed to demonstrate itself when Hill threw a 56-yard bomb to receiver Michael Davis. 

Now, whether he can lead the Cougars into Austin on September 6 and come out victorious over the Longhorns, still remains to be seen.

Coach Mendenhall lost players Kyle Van Noy, Uani Unga, Daniel Sorensen, and Ethyn Manumaleuna to the NFL this year; but the return of Zac Stout to BYU and Bronson Kafusi moving to linebacker seems to inject confidence into the defense. Kafusi seems ready to wreak havoc on Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton and other quarterbacks this season with his 6 foot 8, 245-pound frame; a body that hardly gets overlooked.

The scrimmage this last Saturday was all about potential. The 90-minute scrimmage gave 7,000 fans an opportunity to see what is yet to come. It gave coaches a chance to tighten routes and complicate offensive and defensive schemes. It gave players a taste of what Fall will be like - a hard-hitting, fast-paced sprint to each week’s win. 

There’s a reason why football is America’s game. It displays all the qualities we embody; hard work, sacrifice, and persistence, until perfection is achieved. 

For Coach Mendenhall, the team, and all of BYU Sports Nation, it’s a countdown.

So let’s just skip summer and go right to Fall. 

From the desk of Spencer King, who helps produce "BYU Sports Nation" on BYU Radio.

Sander Breaks Kill Record

Taylor Sander had 13 kills Saturday to lead the Cougars to another home victory. But one of those kills will be etched in the stone of BYU Volleyball history.

After taking the first set, the Cougars found themselves trailing the Cal Baptist Lancers in the second. Sander shut down the Lancer attack with a block as his team battled back within two. On the next play, the Sandman got his eighth kill, narrowing the lead to one, but also landing himself in the top spot in the record books. The very next play, Sander solidified his position by getting another kill that tied the score at 21 in a set the Cougars would go on to win. During a time out, the announcement was made and fans rose to their feet to pay tribute to the king of kills. But Sander knows his accomplishment represents the team he plays on.

"It feels really good. It's a special moment for me, but I can't do it without my teammates and we’ve just got to keep working and play good the rest of the season," Sander said.

With 1,563 career kills, the Sandman moves past Robb Stowell, seizing the number one spot for total kills in the rally-scoring era, and moving to number two all-time. Sander averages 16.3 kills per match, so his performance Saturday night wasn't anything out of the norm. Head Coach Chris McGown says his leading scorer acted like it was business as usual. 

"He's never said a word to me about it. I've never said a word to him about it. I didn't hear anybody on the team talk to him about it. I think these things are just a product of playing well and so we don't think about it too much,” McGown said.

Sander continues to add to his own number, but is still 234 kills behind all-time leader, Ryan Millar, who racked up 1,797 kills during the side-out scoring era. Taylor's record is just another milestone for the Cougars, who have six regular season matches left and a comfortable lead in conference as they look to return to the National Championship. 

“It's certainly a nice achievement for him but it's not what we're about right now and it isn't really part of the culture of this team to think about records. It's about, let's win this match and then, let's win the next one and the next one. Let's keep getting better," McGown said.

As the Cougars continue to get better, Sander will finish his senior season as one of the best. 

From the desk of Alan Miller, assistant producer of “BYU Sports Nation” on BYU Radio.

It's Not A Race, It's A Journey

Let's recap:  

First the loss to Loyola Marymount, then the loss to Pepperdine; a 0-2 start to WCC conference play put the Cougars in a deep hole back in January.   Cougar Nation’s faith dwindles.

Following the losses the Cougars rattled off five straight wins and moved up the WCC standings.  Cougar Nation’s faith grows.

An unexpected triple-overtime loss to Portland and a loss to Gonzaga halts the win streak at five and all but destroys BYU’s chances of an at-large tournament bid in March.  Cougar Nation’s faith is crushed.

March 8:  The first day of the West Coast Conference Tournament and BYU’s last attempt to secure a ticket to the NCAA tournament. A win against Loyola Marymount will pit BYU against San Francisco in the semifinals.  A loss will end the postseason bid for BYU.

March 10:  The Cougars dismissed Loyola Marymount with little effort, but a physical San Francisco team lay in store, and with a win; a showdown against WCC powerhouse Gonzaga.

March 11: BYU steps off the Court after having beaten San Francisco in an overtime thriller the previous day; but losing handily to Gonzaga by 11. Dave Rose’s squad just doesn’t have enough left in the tank to secure an automatic bid. The waiting game continues for that elusive NCAA invitation. 

Fast-forward to March 17, in the dark theater room of Coach Rose’s private theater sits 12 restless players and their coach. It’s Selection Sunday and BYU’s name hasn’t been called.  

The play in game is announced.  No BYU.

The South Bracket is announced.  No BYU.

The West Bracket is announced.   No BYU.

All but that last flicker of hope remains for the Cougars.

Now to the East Bracket where Oregon the 7 seed will be playing the 10 seed Brigham Young University Cougars!  An invitation to play in the tournament.

For this Cougar basketball team, it was all joy. As the experts projected BYU to be on the bubble right to the end, BYU did just that. With a good showing at the WCC tournament, a great RPI, and strength of schedule; BYU played themselves into the tournament. This BYU squad received an invitation to play in the 2014 NCAA tournament this past Sunday, and the Cougars deserved it. 

Coach Rose’s team this year went across the country and back, they scheduled a brutal non-conference schedule, and they battled in a much better than anticipated West Coast Conference to a respectable second place finish. 

This years’ team has broken the hearts of Cougar Nation, but has also been the only source of hope. This years’ team now has the chance to battle to the end and exert revenge on the Oregon Ducks and prove to the nation that BYU deserved its’ invitation to the tournament. 

For the Cougars its win or go home. 

From the desk of Spencer King, who helps with BYU Sports Nation on BYU Radio.

Starter Switch

The BYU hoopsters are getting hot, late; not only late in the season as they head into the tournament, but late in games as well due to some changes to the starting lineup.

It was two weeks ago when the Cougars traveled to St. Mary's and BYU Big Man, Eric Mika, took a seat after he chalked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game. BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said he'd been thinking of making some changes to the starting lineup for a couple weeks, but it was that moment that solidified his decision. Coach Rose says he hoped that having Eric come off the bench would give his team an advantage similar to the same move he made with Matt Carlino earlier this season. "We get a lot of juice coming off the bench which I think is a real, you know, that five-seven mark into the first half when you're bringing in a couple guys that can really give you some athleticism and a real offensive and defensive punch," Rose said.

Since losing his starting spot, Mika has been able to come into the game and add some immediate aggression. With wins against Portland and San Diego, he says he's starting to feel comfortable in his new role. "I like it. It kind of gives me a chance to see how the game is flowing and being called. There's usually a couple of fouls picked up by some of the bigs in the first couple of minutes whether it's on our team or their team. So, my not being in there at all gets rid of any possibility of being in foul trouble the rest of the game," Mika said. He added, that he also likes his new role because by the time he comes into the game, other teams are already close to the bonus and he can take advantage of that.

As the Cougars head into their first tournament game this weekend, Mika will probably find himself on the bench again. But when Coach Rose calls his number, he'll be ready to go.

From the desk of Alan Miller, Assistant Producer of “BYU Sports Nation" on BYU Radio

Mark Your Calendars

99 times out of 100 a win over Gonzaga would earn the headline. Not even news of the great Jimmer and his eventual departure out of Sacramento could trump the announcement. 

In America football is king.

On Monday, Athletic Director Tom Holmoe announced the 2014 BYU football schedule. This was the earliest release of the schedule ever for the football team. And for Cougar fans around the country, it felt like an early Christmas gift. 

Games against Connecticut, Texas, Houston, Boise State, Utah State, and California highlight a schedule that seems to reflect what Bronco Mendenhall envisions for this program as it heads into its’ fourth year as an independent. 

BYU’s football team will be facing high-caliber opponents in almost every major region in the country. These are the benefits of playing in the “ESPN Conference” rather than a regionally bound conference like the Mountain West. With the flexibility to showcase each week on national television and remain relevant, BYU fans should be drooling over this year’s schedule. 

Taysom Hill will be public enemy #1 as the Cougars head to Austin September 11 to try and steamroll first-year coach Charlie Strong and the Longhorns for a second-straight year. Houston comes to Provo looking for revenge after last-year’s barnburner at Reliant Stadium that ended in a BYU 47-46 win.

Each week, regardless if it’s in Provo or on the road, the matchups are juicy.

This year’s team will be challenged to perform at an elite level like last season, but won’t have to worry about heading back to Wisconsin or South Bend. 

 With the strength of independence, BYU looks poised to continue to play nationally relevant programs each week, unlike our red rivals in Salt Lake who seem to become accustomed to being the doormats of the PAC-12.

So, flip your calendars to September and mark off the dates. Tell your boss you’ll be sick and fire up the grill; because it all starts 185 days from now, when BYU heads to Connecticut to kick off the 2014 season.

See you there. 

From the desk of Spencer King, who helps produce BYU Sports Nation.

Only Ty Can Tell

The Cougars struggle on the road. 

That probably doesn't come as a shock to anyone. A simple look at their conference schedule will show that when traveling to WCC schools, BYU is 3-5, while at the Marriott Center they are a perfect 7-0. So what is so hard about playing away from home? It may be the raucous home crowd or the lack of experience on the roster. But there is one common theme in BYU's road woes, and that's Tyler Haws.

Now hear me out. In seven conference road games (not counting a triple-overtime heart-breaker at Portland where he scored 48) Haws is averaging 17.6 ppg. In seven conference home games, he averages 28.6 ppg. Not only is Haws scoring 11 points less, but BYU is losing the majority of those games. BYU is +11.2 points on their conference opponents this season when Haws has over 25 points. 

Two weeks ago after Haws scored twenty-one of BYU's first twenty-four points in a home win over Pacific, BYU Head Basketball Coach Dave Rose realized that Haws' excellent performances may have the rest of the team watching.  "He's a really good, consistent offensive player," said Rose, "and right now we are relying on him, maybe relying on him too much, and hopefully we can spread this out a little bit."

After four wins on their home court, the Cougars hit the road again last week. Before leaving, Rose commented on how his team needs to be ready to step up in case Haws has an off night. "Coming home we got some really big offensive nights from Tyler. And hopefully we understand the possibilities that Ty can have those kinds of nights, but we don't depend on him." Rose said.          

Am I blaming Haws for BYU's losses? Of course not! How could you blame the nation's third leading scorer with 24.2 points per game? Yes, his team needs to pick up the slack if they want to win when Ty's not on his game. Surely it's harder to get energized away from such an electric home crowd. But if he can figure out how to get hot to finish off the season and the WCC Tourney, BYU's NCAA chances might turn from bubble bustin' to a conference championship in Vegas for an auto-bid. 

From the desk of Alan Miller, who helps produce BYU Sports Nation on BYU Radio.

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