BYU basketball coach takes a swing at Pac-12 as Cougars whiff on in-state recruit
BYU basketball coach Mark Pope watched as the Big 12-bound Utes landed a commitment from an in-state, blue-chip forward this week. So, it didn’t feel all too coincidental that, after his Cougars beat Life Pacific in an exhibition game Wednesday night, Pope took a major swing at the Pac-12 over its fan investment.
There was a strong showing from the student section at BYU for the exhibition game, which ended in an 83-55 win for BYU. After the game, Pope said he feels bad for everybody who “doesn’t get a chance” to play for BYU.
“You guys know I exaggerate, but this might not be much of an exaggeration. The defunct Pac-12, this is probably more fans and a better gym environment than most of the schools in the old Pac-12 had in a regular-season game,” Pope said Wednesday night. “We’re just blessed. We’re really blessed.”
Mark Pope on the large showing from #BYU students for the exhibition game against Life Pacific:
“This might not be much of an exaggeration, this is probably more fans and a better gym environment than most of the schools in the old PAC-12 had in a regular season game.”… pic.twitter.com/Mc0YaIxHuy
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) November 2, 2023
BYU, which played its games in the WCC last season, averaged about the same number of fans at each home game as the leader in the Pac-12, Arizona — 14,117 to 14,115. BYU ranked 15th nationally in average attendance. Of course, BYU’s home facility seats upwards of 18,000 while McKale Center lists an official capacity of 14,688.
When it is rocking, McKale is hard to beat.
But it’s clear who Pope is directing his shot at. It’s Utah.
Sandy (Utah) Alta forward Jaxon Johnson committed to the Utes Thursday morning. He’s ranked as one of the top prospects from the state of Utah in the 2024 cycle. That class will play its freshman season in the Big 12 alongside BYU. The Cougars don’t currently hold a known pledge from any of the state’s ranked 2024 prospects. Utah has two of the seven.
Utah and BYU have played each other in basketball only twice since the start of 2016. With both teams playing in the same conference starting next year and matchups reigniting, getting butts in seats shouldn’t be much of an issue.