As 2018 approaches, it’s time to reflect on the last 365 days. For BYU sports in 2017, there were plenty of highs and definitely plenty of lows to improve on in the coming year. Here’s a list of 12 notable BYU sports moments from the past year. Some are good memories and some are bad, but together they made for a pretty memorable 2017.
Jan. 6 — LaVell Edwards memorial service
After former football head coach LaVell Edwards passed away on Dec. 29, 2016 at the age of 86, more than 1,000 people filled the grand ballroom at the Utah Valley Convention Center eight days later to honor the late, beloved coach at his memorial service. As family, friends and former players shared stories, it was clear that Edwards was known for much more than just his 29-year successful BYU coaching career. Edwards left behind a legacy of love and influence that will live on to bless lives for years to come. Review what Edwards’ family, friends and players had to share about him with five ways Edwards left his mark beyond football here.
Feb. 25 — BYU men’s basketball upsets No. 1 Gonzaga in Spokane
The 2016–17 BYU men’s basketball team played spoiler to Gonzaga’s perfect season in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 25. Playing in Spokane, the Cougars stunned the then No. 1 ranked Bulldogs with a 79–71 victory and snapped their 29-game win streak. It was the first time in program history that BYU beat the No. 1 team in the nation.
“These players will remember this for a long time,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said at the time. “We challenged Gonzaga in Provo, but we never really threatened to beat them. We got a chance to do it again knowing we could put pieces together to make runs on these guys and cause some issues. Our guys really believe in each other and believed this could happen.”
BYU finished the season with a 22–12 record and lost in the first round of the NIT to UT Arlington.
May 6 — BYU men’s volleyball loses national championship
The BYU men’s volleyball team faced Ohio State in the national championship for the second year in a row, but unfortunately suffered the same result both times. The Buckeye’s swept the Cougars in Columbus, Ohio on May 6.
“(Ohio State) definitely played a better volleyball match than we did tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said following the game. “I feel for these guys. I wish it was a different result, but it’s not. How we handle these losses will show a lot about us as a team.”
After breezing their way through the tournament, BYU made it to the championship for the third time in the previous five years. They finished the 2017 season with a 26–5 overall record.
May 12 — BYU softball has 22-game win streak
Amidst one of their best seasons to date, the BYU softball team went on a 22-game win streak on their way to a 46–13 record — tying the program record. The Cougars won 11 games on the road during the win streak and swept four conference series. Senior pitcher McKenna Bull went 57.2 scoreless innings during that streak, shattering the program record by 33 innings. The Cougars won their ninth-straight conference title and advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the 13th year in a row.
June 1 — BYU baseball makes first NCAA postseason appearance since 2002
The BYU baseball team won their first West Coast Conference Tournament in program history on May 27 to receive an automatic bid to their first NCAA Tournament since 2002.
“I’m really proud of every single guy on this team,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said. “The guys who played a lot and got a lot of time were obviously very important to this team, but the attitude and work ethic of the guys who didn’t play a lot was what pushed us over the top and allowed us to have a breakthrough year.”
Although the Cougars eliminated Sacramento State from the NCAA regional, they lost to No. 8 Stanford and No. 17 Cal State Fullerton and were eliminated from the tournament. BYU finished the year with an overall 38–21 record. See how BYU baseball turned themselves into a Top 25 team here.
Sept. 3 — Taysom Hill goes pro
After going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, the former Cougar quarterback signed a rookie free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers on May 5. Despite doing well in the preseason — including a 23-yard rushing touchdown against the Washington Redskins — Hill was waived from the active roster with the hope of signing him to the practice squad. However, the Saints quickly claimed Hill off of waivers on Sept. 3. Hill went marching into New Orleans and has seen success on the field playing on special teams.
Oct. 6 —Cosmo and Cougarettes’ halftime performance goes viral
Perhaps the brightest highlight from the 2017 BYU football season came thanks to their mascot, Cosmo. Along with the BYU Cougarettes, Cosmo the Cougar performed a hip-hop routine to “Rolex” by Ayo and Teo during halftime of the homecoming game against Boise State on Oct. 6. The video that gained national attention was first posted on Bleacher Report’s Instagram and reached well over one million views. Despite the football team losing 24–7, there was at least one win for the Cougars that night. Watch the full performance here.
Oct. 27 — BYU cross country scores perfect 15 to claim WCC Title
The No. 2 BYU men’s cross country team made history on Oct. 27 as the first team to ever claim the top five spots and score a perfect 15 at the West Coast Conference Championships. The Cougars claimed their third title in a row with the sweep. The team went on to place second at Regionals and then third at the NCAA Championships in Kentucky on Nov. 18. The third place finish was the cross country team’s best since taking second in 1993.
“It’s been a great and historic season,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We’ve been ranked higher in the polls longer than any past season. This is my best team ever and the second best in BYU history. When you come up a little short at the meet at the end of the year it’s disappointing, but when you focus on all the good things that have happened in terms of victories and conference titles you realize how blessed we have been.”
Nov. 10 — Nick Emery withdraws from BYU
After an NCAA investigation into BYU basketball player Nick Emery allegedly receiving gifts from a BYU booster, the junior guard withdrew from the university on Nov. 10 and gave up his spot on the basketball roster for the 2017–18 season. A month later, Emery spoke out in a blog post discussing his decision, rumors and his intention to return to BYU.
“This is 100 percent my decision and my decision only,” Emery wrote. “It has been quite the journey mentally and physically. But it was time to step down and take time to get myself back in all aspects of life and back to who I really am. I will work harder than I ever have on the basketball court and in my life goals. … I will be back Cougar Nation! I am a Cougar and always will be!”
Read Nick Emery’s timeline of events here.
Nov. 25 — BYU football has historic season
The BYU football team had a historic season — in the worst way possible. A plethora of quarterback injuries and an underwhelming offense had the Cougars finishing the 2017 season with a 4–9 record, the team’s first losing record in 13 seasons. After having a seven-game losing streak, BYU was eliminated from bowl-game eligibility for the first time in 13 years as well.
“The first year we went 9–4, the second year we went 4–9 and were will we go the third year?” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’m willing to work with our coaching staff and players to work as hard as we can and see what happens when we play Arizona next season.”
For a positive outlook on the 2017 season, which reviews some of the bright spots of the season, click here.
Dec. 8 — BYU women’s volleyball loses in Sweet 16
The BYU women’s volleyball team dominated the regular season, losing only two games on their way to claiming their fourth-straight WCC Title. After sweeping the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse and making the Sweet 16 for the sixth-straight year, the Cougars travelled to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the fourth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats. In a five-set thriller, BYU fell short and was eliminated from the tournament. The Cougars finished the year with an overall 30–3 record.
“All year we’ve challenged (the team) to work hard to see how good we could be, and we saw that we are a really good team,” BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said.
See how BYU stacks up for the 2018 season here.
Dec. 14 — Jeff Grimes replaces Ty Detmer as offensive coordinator
After the beloved Cougar Ty Detmer was relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator on Nov. 27, BYU football hired LSU running game coordinator and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes to replace him. Grimes has 25 years of football coaching experience under his belt, having coached at LSU, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, BYU, Texas A&M and Rice. Grimes has a tall task in front of him to try to turn around one of the worst nationally ranked offenses of the 2017 season, but the bright spot for Cougar fans everywhere is that the team can only go up from here.
“I recognize that with this position comes a great deal of responsibility to all of Cougar Nation,” Grimes said in a press release. “I not only welcome this, but consider it a privilege.”