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Interest in BYU football surpassed basketball in the first Big 12 season

Interest in BYU football surpassed basketball in the first Big 12 season


After years of anticipation and build-up, the first year of competition in the Big 12 has arrived for the BYU athletic department. In its first year in the Big 12, the BYU football team limped to the finish line, losing its last five games and missing a bowl game. Meanwhile, BYU basketball exceeded expectations, finishing fifth in the Big 12 and earning a six seed in the NCAA Tournament.

After the basketball season, Mark Pope left for Kentucky and BYU hired Kevin Young in a splashy move. Kevin Young and the staff have made a handful of promising additions to the squad, and they have also managed to retain Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders after entering the transfer portal. Given BYU basketball's success in its first Big 12 campaign, interest in BYU basketball grew to its highest level since Jimmer Fredette.

Despite the undivided attention on basketball in recent months, interest in BYU football still exceeded interest in BYU basketball in its first Big 12 year. According to Google trends, peak interest in BYU football exceeded peak interest in BYU basketball by 6%.

Search volumes about BYU football peaked in late September as BYU posted a win over Arkansas and they prepared for their first Big 12 game against Kansas.

However, BYU basketball has permanently closed the gap on BYU football during the 2023-2024 academic year. From 2011-2022, interest in BYU football exceeded interest in BYU basketball by an average of 65%. You'd have to go back to 2010-2011, Jimmy Fredette's final year, to find the last time interest in BYU basketball outweighed BYU football.

The chart below shows Google searches in BYU football versus BYU basketball. All in royal represents more interest in football than basketball, while any year in navy blue represents more interest in BYU basketball than football.

BYU is a football school; the data from the past ten years proves this. But winning creates interest, and BYU basketball won at a much higher level than football last year. Thanks to the success of basketball, the country has been able to quickly close the gap with football.

For the long-term health of the athletic department, BYU needs football to be successful. Football success is a rising tide that lifts all boats. In reality, BYU football does not compete with BYU basketball. One person's success is good for another, and success builds the BYU brand overall.

Once BYU football can be more competitive in the Big 12 and even compete for a Big 12 championship, interest in BYU football will reach an all-time high. Never before has BYU had this level of access and exposure in college football. The ceiling for BYU football is high, but it will be up to the current staff and players to realize that potential.

In the meantime, interest in BYU basketball will continue to grow while BYU is in the Big 12.




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