Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Have you no decency?

Here is a great editorial done by my partner on the sports desk, David Mortimer.

Viewpoint: Rivalry shouldn't interfere with work

Some of you may have heard about the taunts, slurs and snowballs that came hurling from Ute fans and hit the media trying to interview BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall (especially if you follow The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew on Twitter). Misguided hate is pretty much expected - on both sides of the rivalry - but there is no reason for the news reporters to be victims of it. They weren't there as BYU fans (in fact, from what I know about Jay Drew I'm pretty sure he's a Utah fan), only working journalists. But because these unruly fans had no sense of decency (and no stadium security willing to stop them), the rivalry animosity got out of hand once again.

I wasn't at the game, but David and our two football writers were there right in the middle of it. Our head honcho Rich Evans asked David to write about it, first to confirm that it actually happened (a lot of Ute fans were incredulous about Jay Drew's tweets) and also to argue that Utah has no excuse to not build a better facility for visiting team postgame press conferences, now that they have some Pac-12 money.

The rivalry can get pretty heated on both sides of Point of the Mountain, and I've heard a lot of talk about the need for everyone to calm down. I agree with that. But I will admit that it's hard for me to see the balance in this rivalry hatred. I thought it was dumb for Max Hall to say so blatantly that he hates the University of Utah. But even though I wouldn't say so in a press conference, my imperfect self would probably be just as unforgiving if beer had been poured on my family at Rice-Eccles Stadium.* And the Hall Family isn't the only example. My grandfather-in-law has been given the beer treatment as well. And my mom, when she was a BYU flag girl back in the Jim MacMahon days, had beer cans thrown at her.

I know last year at LaVell Edwards Stadium there was an altercation involving Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's wife. It's embarrassing to see that happen in Cougar Nation, and I am not excusing that behavior at all. But at least action was taken by BYU and those responsible had consequences to deal with. Meanwhile, stadium security and Utah's athletic director Chris Hill (oh, excuse me, Doctor Chris Hill) stood by and let the snowballs fly. And have let the beer cans fly for more than 20 years.

I'm trying to look at everything fairly. But from what I can tell, the Utah fanbase is much more juvenile and dangerous. Now, I know not every single Ute is so bad. I have a few friends from my mission who go to the U who are some of my all-time favorite people from my mission. And they keep the rivalry playful and good-natured.

The way a rivalry should be.

*If you go here, you can read a Ute student give his opinion - and totally make a fool of himself in the process - on why it was impossible for beer to be thrown on Max Hall's family. The three prongs of his argument?: 1) Rice-Eccles Stadium doesn't sell beer. 2) It is extremely difficult and laborious to smuggle it in. (Uh, yeah right. Beer gets in all the time. To be honest, it probably gets smuggled in to LaVell Edwards Stadium occasionally too.) And 3) even if someone did miraculously manage to smuggle beer into the stadium, there's no way he would let it sit through the entire game! He would have drank it all well before then! Oh, I see. So your football fans don't drink beer, and yet they're a bunch of drunks.

Taking a look through the Daily Utah Chronicle makes me even more grateful to work for a newspaper that is actually part of a legitimate journalism program at a distinguished university.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Passion of the Game: BYU Vs Utah

Thanksgiving is always a great week and perhaps the best of the year. School is reduced to only a couple of days. We get to stuff ourselves with great food. There are NFL games and college football. There is even basketball to watch. Everyone is motivated to get up early and play in the cold to win a Turkey bowl.

The best part of the week however, has to be the BYU-Utah rivalry game. This may be last year that it will have all the drama. JJ previously posted a nice peace about it, but it misses a little bit of the, shall we say, passion of the game.

Most recently, we all remember Max Hall's infamous words.

Hall was no the first to express his true feelings. In fact, it was who ever the Utah coach before coach McBride coached at Utah. The hate comments have been thrown from both sides, but it seems that only the ones from BYU really stick. The one I chuckle about most was uttered by Lenny Gomes (Gregor) after a BYU loss in the 90's. "Typical Utah bull (expletive)," said Gregory. "All those (Utes) think that's all there is to life. But when I'm making $50,000- $60,000 a year, they'll be pumping my gas. They're low-class losers."

But the hate goes both ways (check out comments at 0:32)

Wow, since he was born, those are string words. But make no mistake, the fans and cheerleaders have also taken notice. Check out the beginning of this clip.

Cheerleaders are generally pretty buff. I don't think that I would mess with one of them.

The players hate each other on the field.

Fans waste time making up songs:

The list goes on and on about the expressed passion in this rivalry. Bronco Mendenhall stated Monday that he hoped for more "civility" from both fan bases. I would have to agree. The passion is great, but when the story lines from the football games are about acts of hate (dumping beer on people, fights in the stands, etc) it may have gone too far. The game should be the culmination of the season for the players. Has the hate gone too far?

The most disappointing part about all of this though, is that it is the minority that ruins it for the rest. I recognize that most are civil about it. But when emotions run high, people do things that they later regret. The fans make the rivalry what it is. It is one of the best in the country. Lets lock up the knuckle heads on both sides.

Here's to an awesome finale of the clash of the top MWC opponents.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rivalry Week!

The special Rivalry 2010 section of The Daily Universe is out today!

BYU-Utah Football 2010: End of an Era

Everything looks beautiful. And we are so lucky to have such great writers on the sports desk. They had unique ideas and their stories covered a wide variety of topics.

Here are all the stories in our glorious Rivalry section!

Let the hype begin: Utes up next for BYU, by Alex Hairston and Sarah Gambles
A standard preview of the upcoming game. It's not very extensive, because of course BYU isn't talking to the media much about the game and we had to get a story in quick.

Edwards, McBride reminisce, by Morgan Jones
A review about the interview with coaches LaVell Edwards and Ron McBride, that is part of the new "Red Blood, Blue Blood" documentary.

Red Blood, Blue Blood' documents the rivalry, by Natalie Barrett
A review of KUED's "Red Blood, Blue Blood" documentary.

Cosmo, Swoop keep rivalry alive, by Holland Davis
The history and origins of Cosmo and Swoop, including a couple nightmare stories.

Enjoy it, Cougar fans, viewpoint by David Mortimer (and a cartoon by me!)
David's take on the parting of ways for BYU and Utah.

Spring forward, fall back? by Josh Bolding
How will the BYU vs. Utah game change if we don't play at the end of November?

Rivalry affects relationships, by Kirsten Bowe
BYU players who have friends and family on the Utah team.

I can be your hero, baby, by Matt Livingston*
An analysis of former gamechangers, and how it can predict this year's game-winning play.

Keeping the rivalry under wraps, by Sarah Sanders
A history of the BYU vs. Utah prank war.

An outsider's guide to the rivalry, by Michael McKinlay
All about the rivalry, for those who come from outside of the state of Utah.

Bringing out the sibling rivalry, by Sarah Gambles
The Jenkins Family and their internal struggle between BYU and Utah.

5 things to remember for facing the 'formidable' red team, by Yours Truly
This is the viewpoint I was assigned to write after the New Mexico game, but I wrote it with a focus on the next game so it fit well in the tab.

Head games, by Alex Hairston
What would a psychologist think about the rivalry?

*For some reason, Matt's story isn't posted on the website. But you can read the PDF version by clicking on the link and going to page 11.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tradition is Excellence Continued

Hello fellow men. This is my first post. My name is Greg Cook and I am a man. I am from North Carolina and therefore, I am a Tar Heel. I love everything about the University of North Carolina. I must also mention that Dook is nothing but a four-letter word at my house and must never be brought up during a good conversation.

I must clarify that I am also a huge BYU fan. Therefore, when UNC plays BYU in basketball, I cheer for UNC. When UNC plays BYU in football I must cheer for my Cougars. This will clear up any further questions to where my college loyalties lie.

Growing up in the heart of the ACC, I was raised watching quality basketball. I have been to a share of ACC tournaments and have visited the illustrious Dean Dome. This place is where the college basketball gods reside. It is indeed college basketball heaven. Looking up and seeing so many of the great basketball legends in the rafters is a humbling feeling.

Having had such great exposure to what college basketball should be like, and how it should feel when attending a game at the Dean Dome, I find it a little hard to watch a BYU basketball game. Don't get me wrong, I love BYU sports and will always support them. It is just hard for me. Let me share with you a quote, "Once you have experience excellence, you will never be content with mediocrity." I believe I am in this position. I love attending and feeling the atmosphere at the Marriott Center and have not regretted going to any of the games. I just wish there weren't so many layups, especially on fast breaks :) I am excited for another college basketball season and look forward to both BYU and UNC having a great season.

Please enjoy this video.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Occupational Hazards of Being a Man, Man

Congratulations to Harmon Park players of the past, present and future. In our 3rd season, we actually won a playoff game and finished our season 4-3. Good enough to win a best of seven game series in the NBA, NHL or MLB playoffs.

In our final game, on the second to last play, I dove for a flag and Jared Conover stepped on my leg as I was on the ground. It hurt at the moment, but I figured it couldn't be a serious injury and really it wasn't. When I got home that night, I had to inspect it and this is what it looked like:

Kind of a nice looking bruise. But it didn't hurt at all. The next day I stayed home from work because I had been feeling sick (ya I played through it the night before like any MAN would). Around 11:30 I went to the bathroom and had completely forgotten about the bruise when I saw this:

Quite a development in less than 24 hours. there is a little spot where the cleats pierced the skin but the bruising started to develop nicely. I was way excited. I stayed home again the next day. On the third day after the incident I was at work and went on my ritual bathroom break and knew I would need an updated picture of my leg's condition:

Day 8 now, you can see that the bruising is a lot lighter but has spread to cover a lot more area.

It never hurt at all. It itched a lot actually. You might recall Brett Favre asked himself what he was doing playing football at his age after he got a helmet to the chin. I think I understand why. The game is the most exciting thing in the world. Luckily, I didn't have to crawl into the fetal position and get carted off the field. C'mon, Brett.

So if people want to know why we do the things we do? Like risk getting hurt and eat stuff that is not good for us. Well as Gerard Butler (an honorary gun-shooting BBQer) says in How to Train Your Dragon: "We're Vikings. It's an occupational hazard."

Alternative Endings! plus notes from Colorado State's postgame press conference

Hello, "Man Stuff" fans. Lucky for you, since you have a Daily Universe editor writing for the blog, you get some extra info that wasn't in today's newspaper.

First - the alternative endings:

The fireside story that I talked about on Saturday is on today's front page.

BYU football team shares gospel messages while on the road

There are actually two endings to the story that didn't make it in the paper.

1) This one just didn't make it because there wasn't enough space on the page.

One of these heroes, BYU running back David Foote, said he enjoys meeting fans and church members just as much. “It’s my favorite part, to meet everyone after [the fireside], and seeing the faces in the crowd that’s cheering us on,” Foote said. Alex Petersen, a Colorado native who is proud to be 7 1/2 years old, was one excited Cougar fan who collected Foote’s autograph as well as many others. Alex said the fireside helped him plan for his future. “I learned about being a missionary,” Alex said. Some day, when Alex is serving and preaching and blessing other people’s lives as a missionary, those people will at least partly have BYU football to thank.

2) Here's one I wrote that I knew wouldn't make it in the paper. It had some potential for controversy, and it didn't really fit in the story. But I wrote it for fun anyway. In talking with Elder Arntz who is quoted in the story, it came up in our conversation the fact that Jake Heaps said earlier this season that he wasn't planning on going on a mission. Anyone who knows me knows how passionately opposed I am to this. :S And Elder Arntz agreed with me, of course. So he said he would talk to Jake Heaps, and afterward I asked how it went.

The football players weren’t the only ones giving spiritual guidance.
Arntz said he was eager to meet quarterback Jake Heaps, who earlier this season said he was not planning on serving a mission, and offer some persuasion.
“If I get to talk to him tonight, I’ll probably ask him, ‘Are you going on a mission?’” Arntz said. “And if he says no, I’ll do like all missionaries are supposed to do and be devastated. Hopefully that will have some sort of effect on him. I know that he’ll be blessed if he goes on a mission. I know that he’ll have more blessings than he’ll have room to handle.”
After the fireside, Arntz did get to talk to Heaps, who said he is thinking about a mission.
Mendenhall said his players, the fans and even he can all learn from the teachings of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma.
“The real message was this, which is the same message to each of you, and to me, and our team,” Mendenhall said. “‘Even to experimenting on my word.’ That means act, even if you’re afraid. And then see what will happen.”

So, yes, obviously I was pushing my own agenda, haha. But, I wrote it anyway, and I figured it would at least work as another "DVD special feature" for the blog.

Second - Notes from the CSU press conference:

Here's another extra you get for reading my blog. While our football beat writer went to the postgame press conference for the BYU coaches and players, I went to the CSU press conference to get quotes, in case our writers wanted them for their stories.

I got some interesting stuff:

Head coach Steve Fairchild

Well, you all saw it like I did. I mean, there’s no excuses. We totally got outplayed, we got outcoached, we got outclassed. Today I did not see this coming. I thought we had a very good week of practice and preparation. But I give credit to BYU, Bronco Mendenhall and his staff, because they certainly played a terrific game, and we did not. Now let’s go back to work, and hopefully we can finish up the season on a good note in Laramie.

I knew that they were playing pretty good football. Anytime you go out and just lay the ball on the ground like we did and give up the big pass play and let them get rolling, I mean, you’re going to get what you’re getting them. We couldn’t get them off the field on third down, we couldn’t make plays offensively. So again, rather than look at us, you know we’ll certainly look at us and try to correct mistakes, but I certainly want to give BYU and Bronco Mendenhall credit.

The effort was there. I just think you can’t turn the ball over like we did, like I said, give up third-down conversion after third-down conversion, you’re going to be in for a long effort.

It did surprise me. I thought we were coming on defensively. … It was silly. If you can’t get off the field, they’re going to score points, and that’s what happened.

There’s no question. No, I think we were too [coming off a perfect storm]. I just think they executed better, they played better, we turned the ball over, and … I certainly don’t want to take away from anything that BYU did. They played a good game, I give Bronco and his staff all the credit in the world.

We just handed it away in the first quarter.

Elijah-Blu Smith – recovered BYU’s first fumble

It was a big blow to the team, like everybody saw. We started off pretty good, we had some good momentum going into the game. We just didn’t capitalize it into a win for us.

[Did they do anything that caught you off guard in their pass game?] Not really. We knew they were going to throw some play actions at us, and those kind of passes. We had to execute and make plays for us.

[on Ashworth coming out of nowhere] We knew they had firepower in all their receivers. [Number] Two [Cody Hoffman] was the guy that came in who we tried to focus on, but definitely they came battling, ready to play, and they showed it.

They put them up on us. They were making the plays. They got more than we did. They ended up taking us overall.

Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr

[on Ashworth] Well, he ran by our guy one time, and we were in a two-deep coverage, and it never should have happened but it did. So they got a big play there. And then there was another play where we got two defenders right there, we just don’t find the football. So their guy made the plays, we didn’t.

You look at that whole game, and they won every battle and that’s the credit to them. Very disappointing for us.

Ricky Brewer

The result wasn’t what we wanted. …

[on his own personal good game] Obviously you want to play well individually. [But] if everyone plays well individually, we win games. I just want to go out and do my part. As far as the team is concerned, I’d rather win and have no tackles then obviously lose the way we did today.

Oh man, it happened so fast. We just didn’t show up in the first quarter. I mean, we beat ourselves, to be honest. Obviously, they’re a great team. I’m not taking anything away from them. But penalties, turnovers – those are the recipe for disaster. That’s what we served up today.

BYU’s not a bad team. They’re bowl-eligible, they’re going to a bowl game. And I think we underestimated them, to be honest. They came out swinging, and they won the game.

[on extra emotions because of senior night] I don’t think that we came out too fired up. I just believe that we didn’t do a great job of executing. Like I said before, we beat ourselves and basically served it up to them. That’s all I have to say about that.

Raymond Carter

[on his fumble, that was recovered by Kyle Van Noy for a touchdown] I caught the ball, and I didn’t see him coming, he just hit me. Everything happened so fast, you can’t really react to it. BYU came out playing hard, we got to prepare good this week and get ready for Wyoming, finish out strong.

That was the plan, to get the running game going. But like I said, we got off to a slow start. Once we picked it up, we was moving the ball. We just have to maintain that. …

This was a winnable game for us. If we would have came out harder than what we did, and we would have pulled out the game. But unfortunately we didn’t. ... We got a lot of talented guys, and our talent, we didn’t really show that today. …

Freshman quarterback Pete Thomas

This is the most embarrassed I’ve ever been after a football game. We played pretty bad on offense, and, I mean, you can’t turn the ball over three teams and expect to win a ball game. We can’t put our defense into situations like that. It’s just tough. I thought we came out of the tunnel pretty good, but nothing was clicking.

[on senior night] That’s the most disappointing them about this whole game. I personally feel like I let the seniors down. … We let them down today.

[on being forced to throw their game play out the window] Definitely. Obviously, we had to abolish the game plan pretty quick, and that’s not good. … It all started with the way we played in that first quarter, on offense.

To me it felt like we never quit, we stayed in there. We just couldn’t do anything. That’s the most disappointing thing, because we had probably our best week of practice we ever had. But today our plans just fell apart. And we can’t let that happen again.

I’m embarrassed. I know our fans our embarrassed. I think we didn’t expect to come out like this. Thank God we have another game…

[on BYU leaving the conference, and not being able to grow up with Jake Heaps as freshmen quarterbacks] That would be a good rivalry, but I just can’t control any of that. We just got to play who’s on our schedule.

Zac Pauga

[on losing on senior night] … It’s the opposite of what I wanted to happen. Even if it was a loss, I would have liked to play them closer and play them tougher. I’m definitely disappointed with what happened today.

I really have no idea. Even when we were sitting on the sidelines, it just felt like we couldn’t get a break, that things weren’t going our way, and I really have no idea.

It felt a lot like the game we played against them last year, where they just jump out on you, they’re so quick. Football’s such a game of emotions that if you get down even a little bit when you’re that far behind, it’s almost impossible to come back. And I kind of felt like that’s what happened.

We obviously would like to run the ball. And when you’re down 35 points, the run game’s kind of out of the window, and you’ve got to throw it if you want to stay in the game.

[on what was talked about at halftime] We just talked about getting back into the game and playing with a little bit of pride and showing people who we are. That’s what we tried to do.

I just felt like after those first couple turnovers when it was 21-0, it kind of surprised us and shocked us, and I feel like we didn’t really recover until the fourth quarter. I don’t know if that’s true or if that’s what the reason was, but that’s just how it felt to me on the sidelines.

Mychal Sisson

[on getting the first fumble recovery] We thought we was going to give it to them right out there after we caused that turnover. But they came back and responded. Just like any team should.

Everybody had high hopes. Especially the seniors, you try to send them out with a last victory at Hughes. So, it just didn’t come out how we really planned it and hoped it would come out to.

Third - Go here to check out more stuff about the sports articles in today's newspaper.

Smoke and Mirrors or the Real McCoy?

I got to wondering about the Cougars recent turn around and it made me think of how the Cougars late season stride is quite similar to the Utes early season success. Consider the opponents that Utah played the first seven games:

The only significant wins that they have are over a good Air Force team (lost by three points to an overrated Oklahoma team) and a mediocre Pitt team (5-4) from a mediocre Big East. They pasted the cup cakes on their schedule.

Now consider our schedule, our most significant win is over a hapless Washington team with the most over-hyped quarterback in the nation, one Jake Locker. We lost to Utah State. We lost to Utah State! However, in our lowest of lows, we were competitive with a decent Florida State team (#26) and a decent Nevada team (#18). We were half-way competitive against TCU in Ft. Worth, but alas close is no cigar. Like Utah, we obliterated those who should have been obliterated with one exception: we lost to flipping Utah State!!!!!

Anyway, I think all of us realize that Utah is reeling a little bit, but should have enough talent to overcome SDSU. We will roll New Mexico like cannabis. The records will not look the same, but both teams may be meeting each other in the middle come the Holy War.

I am not wanting to forecast doom by the title of this post. BYU has a legitimate shot to win. Here are the reasons why I believe they will:

1) The QB struggles allowed for the offensive line to believe that they truly are the best offensive line this side of Texas. The running backs together are not as talented as Harvey Unga, but they have come to truly believe in themselves and Juice Quezeda and, I belive Bryan Kariya, have that smash mouth, punch-you-in-the-face-attitude running the ball that makes one surprised when someone manages to take them down. I am not sold on J.J. (DiLuigi that is). I would like to see a little more north and south, but he has been effective at alluding tacklers and has been productive against lesser talent. I want to see that against the likes of TCU and Utah though. The run game will alleviate any undue pressure if they can continue to play confidently.

2) The bye-week could not have come at a better time. I am talking about in regards to Coach Anae. I like Coach Anae, but one former player thinks that this offensive explosion is do to Coach Anae's seat getting a little too warm for the HC to be satisfied with 81 yard passing games. In other words, this former player opines that he may have been weeks away from losing his position, if things did not change. I think perhaps a little too much is being read into Heaps' most recent comments about the offense having the talent to play like this from week one, but I think all of us are "witnesses" (to steal this from LBJ and his talents in South Beach) of the sheer awesomeness that Jake Heaps possesses. The kid wasn't overrated, the struggles were due to him being underestimated. As a side note, I am surprised that despite the obvious boost the offense has received from the Heap's confidence boost, that Coach Mendenhall would go and say that Riley will again be in the running for QB1 come the spring. Let the Riley Nelson experiment fade, and utilize his strengths in the wildcat, let him be number 2 and come in on special occassions or on an option from Heaps and let Nelson throw one or two. The passing game is back and we are averaging 500 yard per and over 50 points in the last two games.

3) Most importantly, despite my objections to Coach Mendenhall's comments, it is apparent that Coach Mendenhall is a terrific coach and motivator. Chris Hoke will probably be the one to win MWC Coach of the Year, but the way Bronco has turned this team around, he really deserves it the most. Hoke has managed to do something that no one has done in a long time at SDSU, not get in the way of the talent and ride their coattails to 7 or 8 wins and a bowl game appearance. That should be a given in San Diego. Back to BYU. This defense is playing out of its mind. Van Noy is emerging as a real pass rusher. The nickle defense with Eason blitzing was deadly effective. Brian Logan, Andrew Rich, and B. Bradley are playing fantastic in the secondary. The linebackers are becoming effective. The run defense is outstanding and the whole unit posesses a swagger that I love to see (or hear about listening to Greg Wrubell). I wonder if Coach Mendenhall could have managed DC responsibilities along with everything else effectively, could BYU have busted the BCS in 2008 and/or 2009. It appears that we were one DC short of the whole package.

4) The Holy War this year, rests squarely on the shoulders of Jordan Wynn and Jake Heaps. Wynn is losing and Heaps has a whole heap load of confidence now. The quarterback that maintains composure ensures his team of victory. Just look to last two years as the proof in the tapioca pudding. If Heaps can continue to play great ball, BYU should pull it out in Utah.

To be honest, this season has been one of the funnest and most fulfilling in a long time. Sure, no one is thrilled with the record, but the way the team has pulled themselves up by the boot straps and willed themselves to victory against Washington, Wyoming, and San Diego State and then pummelled lesser teams in UNLV and CSU, it has been fun to watch. So much so, that I didn't feel bad selling tickets to the Penn State-Ohio State game this week, because that meant I could LISTEN to the BYU game without undue interruption (also, Emi had a bad cough and we didn't want her to infect all five kids of the family that had agreed to watch).

I am hoping that the OSU-Michigan game is played late into the evening or early afternoon so Carrol and I can get back in time to catch the Holy War. Otherwise, we are leaving early or arriving late to the game.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Harry and Cosmo Save the Day

I don't know if this counts as "Man Stuff," but for any of you Harry Potter fans, here was Friday's front page done by none other than yours truly:

Go here to read more about how this front page came to be.

Faith and Football in Fort Collins

This blog post is coming straight from the press box at Hughes Stadium at Colorado State. I'm lucky enough to go on another Daily Universe trip, this time for the BYU football game against the Rams. It should be a good game - BYU's on a roll after last week's huge victory over UNLV. If we play the same way against the Rams, we're well on our way to a bowl game, and maybe even an upset over Utah (who lost horribly to TCU last week).

Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, press box view

I was assigned to write a story about last night's football fireside. We haven't covered one this semester, and it's exactly the sort of feel-good story that BYU loves to see in The Daily Universe. I had a lot of fun talking to Fort Collins church members and interviewing them for my story. There were a lot of dads who brought their kids to see these tough football players who aren't too tough to share their spirits and testimonies. The fireside itself was great, I had never been to one before. I saw another side of Bronco Mendenhall, one I knew was there but was still cool to see in a suit and tie and with scriptures in hand. The coach is definitely more comfortable behind the chapel microphone than he is behind a press conference microphone.

The story should be on the front page of The Daily Universe on Monday. Make sure you check it out!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What foul?

Need I say more? I can't believe he even tried to pretend like nothing happened.

Monday, November 8, 2010

BYU's juicy future

I really enjoyed this past weekend. Not only did BYU finally do something on offense but they did NOT make costly mistakes to keep the other team in the game. As I thought about the win, it got me really excited. I am not trying to say that this BYU is great by any means, but we saw a glimmer of what this teams potential is. I was was pretty harsh on Jake Heaps a couple of posts back. I think that he finally started to step up. We have a lot of young guys who should make us BYU fans very excited come next year and years to come.

Jake Heaps. He was 19 for 31 throwing for 294 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs. Sure it was against UNLV, but this was a stride that should have come much earlier in the season. He needed to have a game like this and he needs to have games like this against CSU and UNM. This was biggest improvement for him during the whole season thus far. His stats could have been even better had his WRs not dropped a couple of balls. I was impressed by his accuracy and consistency. We should have a good line still next year to keep him protected as well.

Joshua "Juice" Quezada. This kid is a baller. 3 TDs. Thank you Jake Heaps for recruiting him. This kid is fast but also is a bulldozer. We sat in the South end zone and witnessed (and heard) him plow over the UNLV linebacker. DiLuigi and Kariya also return.

Cody Hoffman. He is targeted the most during the season. Ashworth has taken some strides, but Cody still receives plenty of looks. He is also a stud returning kicks. I thought that we would miss Chambers returning the ball, but Cody is amazing. I think that he'll break one. He had a 50 yard return on his sole return on Saturday. Just imagine next year having him, and Ross Apo, and McKay Jacobson. There is some good size and speed.

Defenders. Unfortunately, the defense is mainly nameless, but a number of them are freshman. Kyle Van Noy is a stud and has been making plays left and right. Zac Stout is solid. Next year we'll have Stout, Van Noy, Pendleton, and Uona Kavienga (USC transfer) at line backer. The down side is that Rich, Bradley, and Logan will be gone.

I only named a few of the young players that are on this BYU team. There are a number red-shirting or new commits coming in. With the right coaching, the sky is the limit for this team.

I should also clarify that I am not looking forward to next year. But, how can you not be excited about BYU's future. Plus, now the nation will be able to see BYU play next year.

This Week in Football

There has been a lot of discussion concerning head injuries in the NFL as of late. Medical research has shown that head injuries among NFL, NCAA and even high school football players have long term effects on mental health. So we have seen the NFL take a strong stand on penalizing players for leading with their helmets. Not only is there a 15 yard penalty assessed for helmet to helmet hits, but the NFL commissioner has stepped in and started assessing fines for these hits.

One Steelers player, James Harrison, has already been fined $100,000 for three different hits this season. This weekend was filled with even more scary hits.

Austin Collie was hit on the side of his helmet after dropping a catch across the middle. Roy Williams was hit on the back of his helmet trying to turn for a ball over his head. For those of us at the BYU UNLV game, we were there for a scary moment when David Foote (maybe it was a different player) was knocked unconscious in garbage time following a helmet to helmet hit.

There has been a lot of mixed reaction to how the NFL has handled these kind of hits and injuries. Some players, like Baltimore Ravens linebacker (former Super Bowl MVP and murderer) feel like it’s time to put flags on everyone because these rule changes are going to dilute the game.

To some extent we love the big hits. But that is not the reason we watch the game. We watch the 1999 Rams because they were the greatest show on turf. That is the same reason that no one remembers watching Super Bowl 35 that pitted two great defenses against each other. That is the same reason that only 3 of the top twenty selling NFL jerseys are defensive players. We love offense.

Furthermore, these big hits are not good for the longevity of the game. After the hit on Foote at the BYU game, Katie joked, “I don’t want our kids to ever play football!” I know it was probably a joke. But how many parents will have these fears overcome their desire to let their kids play football? Especially when there are kids playing peewee football that hit like this?

If you listened to the fans during the Austin Collie injury, they were booing. Most likely it was because they felt the penalty should not have been called. Now, I hate Eagles fans. They remind me of the blood thirsty Roman Coliseum spectators. These are the same people that cheered when Michael Irvin (4:47)broke his neck in a game against them, threw snow balls at 49ers fans, booed when Donovan McNabb was drafted and ate children in the middle of a game (maybe not).

But their reaction Sunday to Austin Collie’s injury, aside from being tasteless, sums up the sentiment among those who are opposed to keeping the game safe. They don’t realize that if the game continues the way it is now, there will not be an NFL in 50 years. Parents are going to elect to have their kids play basketball or soccer before they risk having their children hurt in football.

And we have boxing to serve as an example of how a sport can go from mainstream to completely irrelevant within a couple of generations. Head injuries in boxing are a big factor in that demise. Some probably will not agree, but the workforce needs to be protected and the game hopefully will protect its players.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Do you know the mascot of the Cougars' opponent this Friday?

Having traveled to each BYU (yes Provo, Rexburg, and Laie, except Jerusalem)campus within the same calendar year this year, I figured I was the primary candidate for delivering an in-depth analysis of the Cougars highly anticipated match-up this week pitting the

#24 ranked-Brigham Young University Cougars


#24 ranked-Brigham Young Universtiy-Hawaii Seasiders

How is this humanly possible to have both teams ranked 24th you say. Nevermind the fact that there are two major polls (Coaches and AP), the Seasiders play in the NCAA Division II level and are currently ranked in the preseason poll for the first time ever. Meanwhile, BYU is ranked in the AP poll, but not the Coaches Poll (baloney you say, surely they must be joking ... well they are not and their name isn't Shirley. Ah yes, classic line from a classic movie:

Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.)

Anywho, back at the ranch:

Here is the skinny on the Seasiders:

Name of school: Brigham Young University-Hawaii
City/Zip: Laie, HI 96762
Founded: 1955
Enrollment: 2,400
Nickname: Seasiders
School colors: Crimson, Gold and Gray
Arena/Gym Name: Cannon Activities Center
Capacity: 4,500
Affiliation: NCAA II
Conference: Pacific West
President: Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright
Alma Mater: Stanford
Athletics Director: Ken Wagner
Head Coach: Ken Wagner
Alma Mater,Year: Brigham Young/1979
Best Final Ranking: 12th

The Low Down on BYU:

Name of school: Brigham Young University
City/Zip: Provo, UT 84602
Founded: 1875

Official BYU Enrollments*

Daytime full-time and 3/4 time students
Year Fall Enrollment Winter Enrollment
2010 30,558 29,794
2007 30,426 29,004
2006 30,090 29,271
2005 30,492 29,581
2004 30,633 29,231
2003 30,372 29,361
2002 29,796 29,227
2001 30,234 29,157
2000 30,069 29,217
1999 30,301 29,246
1998 29,930 28,274
1997 29,011 27,176

*Does not include 1/2 time students.

Nickname: Cougars
School colors: Navy and White
Arena/Gym Name: Marriott Center
Capacity: 22,700
Affiliation: NCAA I
Conference: The Mountain West Conference
President: Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson
Alma Mater: University of Utah
Athletics Director: Tom Holmoe
Head Coach: Dave Rose, Survivor
Alma Mater,Year: University of Houston (can anyone say "Phi Slama Jama"?)

Can you name the only player from BYU-Hawaii that was drafted in the NBA? Believe it or not, it is Yuta Tabuse from Japan.

Of course, we've had a couple as well.

One, Shawn Bradley.

You may have heard of this guy, Danny Ainge

He was also drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but my ADD tells me that it is time to end this post.

Just my last question. As a fan of BYU do you really want them to beat BYU-Hawaii badly. Of course you don't want BYU to lose, but cheering against the Seasiders almost seems like eating your young doesn't it? Is there going to be any jeering or popping off from the student section? Any "sit-down!" from the stands if a BYU-H player fouls out. Or do you think there will be cheers all around.

Either way, you have to feel like a winner all around if either team wins, because "Hey, go team Mormon, right?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heaps or OC handcuffs?

So in my ward is a former BYU Tight End, Andrew Stacey. He was hoping to get some playing time as a backup for Johnny Harline, but then some hotshot sophomore started taking all of his reps. That hotshot is none other than the Baltimore Raven's own Dennis Pitta.

Anyway, I asked Andrew amongst other things what he thought of the current Jake Heaps situation. He told me that he watches every game and he said he can tell right away that Coach Anae does not have any confidence in Heaps whatsoever. He said the evidence is in the fact that Heaps rarely throws to the receivers. He explained that this was no coincidence, but pretty obvious that he is only allowed to throw to a running back running a check-down pattern, or tight ends. He probably has the okay to throw to a receiver if the receiver is wide open, but he does not have the green light to begin to fire away.

He said that Jake is playing scared because his offensive coordinator is scared and won't show any trust in him, so it is a vicious cycle. So this explains the reason why on 3rd and way long, Jake is throwing 3 yard passes against TCU.

Since Andrew played under Lavell, Gary, and Bronco, I asked him about the characteristics of each coach. He said that coaching style-wise, Lavell and Bronco are very similar, but that personality-wise they are different. He said that Bronco is a lot funnier than people realize. He said he really loves Gary Crowton (we were both watching kids at this time so the conversation is somewhat disjointed, due to this we never got to finish this part of the conversation).
#9. I'll bet it was pretty exciting to be at the game. You could tell from watching that 1) Jake was playing with a lot of confidence that day, 2) unlike what 90% of what Cougarboard thinks, Heaps can play and throws the ball really well, and 3) when the receivers catch the ball, the offense has no limits.

The bye week was mutually beneficial for both Jake and more importantly I believe Coach Anae's confidence in Jake. I think it ridiculous that Anae receives as much criticism as he does for having produced one of the finer offensive programs in the country, but I think in this case, he underestimated the ability of the kid that he brought in to lead the program.

Here's to an 8-5 season.

P.S. If BYU goes undefeated the rest of the way, do you think the Vegas Bowl takes a BYU team on the up-and-up or a two-loss Utah team. I think they would take Utah, and I think that would be a great mistake.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ansah learns all about football, America and life

Here's a Daily Universe story that I'm especially proud of.

Way back in August, I learned about BYU's Ezekiel Ansah on Twitter. According to one of Dick Harmon's tweets after one fall practice, Ezekiel was a transfer from the track team, and one his first day of practice he didn't even know how to put on the pads.

I thought this was really interesting, so I started doing some research. Ezekiel is 6'6", 250 lbs. and can run 200 meters in 21.9 seconds. Pretty impressive. The only thing he had to do now was learn how to play football.

The reason he knew so little about football is because he is from Ghana, where of course American football doesn't exist. But his senior year in high school he joined the church and became interested in BYU. He came here, joined the track team, and then decided to try out football.

And, after 12 weeks of practice and no game time, he finally got to play in the Wyoming game a couple weeks ago.

Anyway, before I tell the whole story, click here and read it:

Ansah learns all about football, America and life

And you can go to my J Squared blog post to learn more.