Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which I take on Rick Reilly and defend Jimmer

AP Photo

So, the day after BYU loses to Florida and the season is suddenly over, this comes up on ESPN.com, saddening Cougar fans even further:

"Jimmer grows dimmer" by Rick Reilly

Of course, Reilly has every right to his opinion, and even to express it on ESPN. But this viewpoint of his just seemed totally unfair and mean-spirited. He literally based his whole interpretation of Jimmermania on one bad game. And he doesn't pass up a chance to laugh at us Mormons.

So, I had to respond.

Here's what I said, in today's Daily Universe:

A single game (I would have picked another headline, I think)

I hope you enjoy it!

I also had another story in today's paper, just a quick one about the awards Jimmer got yesterday (rather ironic, don't you think, Reilly?) Even though the story's just eight inches long, I think I did a good job of giving it some voice and personality.

Honoring the Jimmer

Friday, March 25, 2011

And...the Last Edition from N'Awlins

And, just like that, I'm heading home.

It was quite a game tonight. I'm glad I was here - now I can say that I've been to an NCAA game. (Depending on my future career, I hope I get to go to a lot more.) And it's always great to see the Cougars.

But it was heartbreaking and disappointing. It's such a strange way to end the sports season, to lose one game and all of a sudden it's time to go home. It's especially a strange way to end a college basketball career, for Jimmer, Jackson and Logan.

In the 48 hours I was here, I was very productive. Besides writing five stories for The Daily Universe, I also saw a lot of the French Quarter and the surrounding area.

I like New Orleans a lot. It's definitely got something that no other city has. In a lot of ways it's like Las Vegas. But even if the "hedonistic" lifestyle is the same in both cities, Vegas is sleeker and shinier, more futuristic. New Orleans looks and feels 200 years old, and it's not as clean as Vegas. But that gives it its own appeal.

Today, I spent the morning roaming the French Quarter, looking for BYU fans to talk to and also took a ton of photos. It was a little bit strange being a tourist all alone, I wish Erin and Allisyn were with me. But I saw a lot of cool stuff.

Here's the story I wrote:

New Orleans: A different way of life

And, here's a link to my Facebook photo album with all the photos (I set it so that "Everyone" could see it, so you shouldn't have any trouble accessing it):


I'll put some photos here too, just to give the blog some variety:

Then, I walked over to the arena for the game. When I got to my assigned seat, I discovered how lucky I was to be here:

Doesn't get much better than that.

At the media buffet, I met Matt Marheine from The Daily Cardinal, one of Wisconsin's student newspapers. It was great to meet him and chat with him. He even offered to loan his photos of the BYU vs. Florida game to The Daily Universe, which was super nice.

Also before the game, I got my chance to meet Andy Katz. I came up to him and said hi, and that I was the student newspaper guy who Pat Forde talked to. He seemed to remember me from that article. He didn't have anything to say, and I couldn't think of anything. (It was a few minutes before the game, so he was probably a little busy.) So it was a little awkward. Afterward I was thinking, "Duh! I should have told him that I'm a big fan of his and love listening to his podcast and thanks for watching and supporting BYU all year." But, too late. I was awkward. (Now I'll never get a job at ESPN! Just kidding.)

Then it was game time. It was tough to not be vocal! I felt like the team sometimes needed one more voice to cheer for them. But, all in all, the guys worked hard and definitely deserve to be commended, not only for making it to the Sweet 16 but for everything they've done all year.

Of course, even though I was prepared for either a Butler or a Wisconsin preview, now I couldn't use that. Instead, I filled up that newspaper space with an extra story on this being the last game for Jimmer, Jackson and Logan. At the press conference, I asked Jimmer and Jackson about the emotions they were feeling and the thoughts running through their head, and they said a lot of nice things, enough for me to come up with a separate story. It was probably the fastest story I've ever written!

You can see all three stories in Friday's Daily Universe. Or, right here on my blog!

(The link to my BYU fans in New Orleans story is above.)

Sweet ride comes to an end

BYU seniors go out with a memorable season

Oh, I almost forgot: Cory Giger tweeted me to ask if I would be on his show again! This time just to talk about the game. It was pretty cool, and I think the interview went well.

And this one is available online!

Sports Central with Cory Giger 3/24/11 (Go to the 1:02:55 mark to get to my interview.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Early Edition from N'Awlins

Hey there, everybody.

I'm blogging directly from the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, Louisiana, here for BYU's first Sweet 16 game in 30 years.

Although I'm here with a crew of broadcast students, it kind of feels like I'm in solo mode. Which is strange. I sure have a lot of work to do! I did two stories before I even got to the hotel, and today I'm expecting to do three more.

Here's what I did for the day before the game:

Cougars will need best effort to defeat Florida

Viewpoint: Thanks for the respect

I spent a lot of time on the last one, but I think it's turned out to be one of my best editorials so far. It's basically a response to "With honor," an editorial written in Florida's student newspaper. I was very impressed with the Florida campus way of handling BYU, especially when contrasted with the San Diego State way. And Florida coach Billy Donovan and player Chandler Parsons had some nice things to say in today's press conference...and by that, I mean they had nothing to say. A reporter tried to get them into a discussion about BYU and the Honor Code and how it wouldn't work at Florida or any normal college, and Donovan and Parsons declined to participate.

(I thought the reporter was trying to maybe stir up some controversy or something...but instead, he used the non-answers to write an article that actually makes BYU look pretty good: "What if Billy Donovan, Gators had to live by the Honor Code?" I especially like the article's last line.)

I'll briefly give you the story of how I finally ended up in New Orleans:

- I tried for a 12:55 a.m. flight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. But since I fly standby (thanks to my dad, a Delta Air Lines mechanic), there's always a risk that there won't be a seat for me. And that's exactly what happened. No seat for me.

- So, I found a corner to curl up in and slept for a few hours at the airport before a 7:05 a.m. flight to Atlanta. I did get a seat on that flight.

- For some reason, as we were taxiing to the gate in Atlanta, I started feeling really sick and miserable. I was sure I would throw up. Fortunately I didn't, but I did get super sweaty and queasy. After finally reaching land for a while, I started to feel better.

- I touched down in New Orleans right in the middle of BYU's press conference at the New Orleans Arena. (I would have made it in time if I got on that 12:55 flight.) I was pretty frustrated about missing the press conference, but thanks to modern technology I knew I could find the audio online. But then, even better, the transcripts of the press conferences were emailed to me personally! That was nice. I worked on the preview story for a while at the airport, then I got picked up and taken to the arena where I finished up both stories.

- I was there at the arena for a long time, until there weren't many media people left. One guy who stuck around working was none other than Andy Katz from ESPN. I wanted to introduce myself, and I even thought maybe he would sort of know who I was. But I still looked like someone who had spent the night in the Salt Lake airport, so I decided against it. I hope that wasn't my only chance to meet him though!

- Then, I rode the shuttle to the labyrinth of a hotel. I couldn't figure out how to get to wherever I wanted to go. But I think I have it down now.

- Tonight, I went for a walk down Canal Street and a little bit of Bourbon Street until I couldn't handle it anymore, haha. Here are some photos:

The view outside New Orleans Arena.

Statue in the hotel lobby. Also, the namesake of New Orleans' international airport.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Bracket Time

Here's my bracket, in case you're interested.

I don't expect to be even close to right.

I can give my argument for why a put BYU in the Final Four, besides being a BYU fan: We should beat Wofford no problem. St. John's or Gonzaga will be tough, but winnable. Then, even though they're a higher seed this year, we beat Florida last year. Pitt, well, I think BYU is entitled to one miracle or surprise. Maybe some will think they'll use that miracle to beat St. John's, Gonzaga, Florida or UCLA. I'll go ahead and say it will be against Pitt.

More charts!

After BYU lost the Mountain West Conference Tournament, I had a tough time figuring out what to write. One idea came to mind, to say that these might have been the first game that really showed what BYU is missing without Brandon Davies.

But I looked at some statistics, and actually found the opposite. Abouo's and Collinsworth's rebounds have been on the rise since BYU's last game with Air Force. And in the five games since Davies was suspended, second-chance points are higher than before too.

Here's my viewpoint: BYU worriers can rest assured

And, see the charts for yourself:

BYU Opponent Deficit
Fresno State 10 11 -1
Utah State 12 8 4
Chicago State 14 8 6
Miss Valley State 16 6 10
South Florida 14 9 5
St. Mary's 6 12 -6
Creighton 13 11 2
Hawaii 10 15 -5
Vermont 12 10 2
Arizona 8 11 -3
UCLA 10 17 -7
Weber State 9 14 -5
UTEP 9 17 -8
Buffalo 9 9 0
Fresno Pacific 19 8 11
UNLV 13 8 5
Air Force 18 4 14
Utah 11 15 -4
TCU 11 6 5
CSU 10 13 -3
SDSU 2 13 -11
NM 6 11 -5
Wyoming 11 11 0
UNLV 6 19 -13
Air Force 7 1 6
Utah 12 9 3
TCU 8 9 -1
CSU 13 11 2
SDSU 9 7 2
NM 9 15 -6
Wyoming 11 6 5
TCU 17 2 15
NM 15 14 1
SDSU 5 14 -9

Total Average

BYU 10.73529

Opponent 10.41176

Deficit 0.323529

Average before suspension

BYU 10.62069

Opponent 10.44828

Deficit 0.172414

Average after suspension

BYU 11.4

Opponent 10.2

Deficit 1.2

Vegas Roundup

I'm back in Provo after a great experience in Las Vegas at the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The last game for BYU was a tough one, but not all hope is lost. It's hard to beat a good team three times in one season (evidenced by New Mexico in the same tournament).

Our Daily Universe crew was super productive. Altogether we wrote 13 stories! Here's where you can find them, in reverse chronological order:

By me:

BYU worriers can rest assured

Nothing less than phenomenal

Back on track to break the curse of the Lobos

Rams win would be a Cougars win too

Not down and out, just turning out

By one of our men's basketball writers, Steve McCall:

So close, yet so very far away

San Diego State challenges BYU a third time this year

Fredette's 52 points help Cougars get revenge on New Mexico

Cougars survive quarterfinals scare

Cougars start conference tourney vs. Horned Frogs

By one of our women's basketball writers, Whitney Brooks:

Jimmer does it again

BYU women lose last-second upset to rival Utah

Semifinal draws rivalry for Cougars

For photos, check out The Daily Universe website.

And, these stories were done here in Provo, having to do with Selection Sunday:

BYU a 3 seed, will play Wofford
- by Kristian Ekenes

How to craft the winning bracket - by Kirsten Bowe

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coming to you live from Las Vegas!

Hey, Man Stuff followers!

I'm down here in Las Vegas as part of The Daily Universe's convoy to the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament. It's a lot of fun to get to watch basketball all day. But, don't worry, I'm not only having fun. In the time I've been here, I've already cranked out three editorials:

1) Not down and out, just turning out

This one I wrote literally in the van while we were pulling into Las Vegas. I was very impressed to see how many BYU students were planning on coming to the tournament and supporting their Cougars, instead of writing off the season after the Brandon Davies announcement and the embarrassing New Mexico loss that followed.

2) Rams win would be a Cougars win too

Yesterday and this morning I was probably thinking more about the Colorado State vs. New Mexico game than the BYU vs. TCU game, to be honest. For some reason I've just been really intrigued by coach Tim Miles and the Rams this season. I was rooting for them to get into the NCAA Tournament, although it looks now like they've definitely missed that chance.

Anyway, I wrote this viewpoint to discuss how Colorado State could win against New Mexico (and why that would be good for us). I knew that the viewpoint would only be relevant for about six hours, haha. In fact, I don't know if it was ever published on the website, just on my blog. But I wrote it for fun, and now you guys can read it if you're interested.

3) Back on track to break the curse of the Lobos

This is what I wrote after it turned out Colorado State lost to New Mexico (after a really good fight). During both the BYU game and the Colorado State game, I was sort of struggling to think of what to write. But this is what I finally came up with. Hits newsstands in about six hours, but you can read it here first!

While I was trying to think of ideas, I came up with some more charts. I don't really have a use for them yet, other than to make them an exclusive addition to the Man Stuff blog.

So, the blue lines in these charts are field goal percentage game by game. The red line is the season field goal percentage up to that point.

I first had the idea as a way to show that, although Jackson Emery has some dismal shooting nights sometimes, they come in cycles. And I was going to see if maybe Emery was due for another big night. (Let's hope so, against the Lobos.)

I ended up not writing my editorial about that, but these charts are cool anyway! And what do you think they mean? What are your comments?






Monday, March 7, 2011

Your winter fix of Bronco

So, this is totally a cop out of a post because this is actually a post I made about two-and-a-half years ago. Excuse the cheesy writing. Nevertheless, it was a cool experience for me, and one I am sure many of you would like to have shared... enjoy!


Okay, so hopefully all of you know that I love BYU football! I love going to the games, I'm in a bad mood for days after we lose or do poorly. And if I love BYU football, that means that Bronco Mendenhall has to be my hero! As head coach, he has turned this program around since he's been here.
The man himself. He's freaking tight!

So, this brings me to my post. Today at work, my boss came to me and told me that we needed to escort Bronco to a conference call for the press, and then take him down into the Marriott Center to speak in this morning's Homecoming Assembly. After beating a co-worker at paper/rock/scissors, I got to go! I met him at the Marriott Center and took him to a quiet room where he could talk. At this time, the Homecoming Assembly had already started, with the marching-band playing and the Student-body President hosting. By this time, I had already had the chance to shoot the breeze with Bronco and talk about common acquaintances we had. He was so chill and asked me about my life and studies.
Anywho, so I am watching the assembly, and to my horror they announce that Bronco was there to talk, and called him out on to the floor! I was still upstairs with Bronco and he was still doing his conference call! I was freaking out because the host's were standing on the floor waiting for Bronco to come out!! YIKES!
Bronco leads with courage and power!

Needless to say, my boss, Ron Clark went out and informed the audience that "Bronco is upstairs telling the media that we have already clinched Saturday's game!" to the pleasure of the crowd. I didn't have too much time to get Bronco down, so I told him it was time and booked it down the elevator. We had some time to chat a little more about his days at Oregon and such. Then I took him to my boss, Ron. They took him right out on the floor and he spoke for about 3 or 4 minutes. He was a natural.
After that, I took him back to his truck outside of the Marriott Center and said goodbye. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Then he took off.
It was SO tight! He was nice, chill and easy to talk to. What an experience!

So there you have it! I didn't talk too much in this post about how much we actually got to talk. It was just Bronco and I in a quiet office alone for about 20 minutes, just shooting the breeze and getting to know each other. It was a pretty fun experience. I figured you guys would enjoy this little piece of BYU football to hold you through until this fall.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Week of Davies

I am rapidly becoming the national media's resident expert on the BYU Honor Code.

The announcement came Tuesday night that Brandon Davies, BYU's third leading scorer, would be suspended for the rest of this season because of an Honor Code violation.

I was actually on my way to a Real Salt Lake match when it happened. I had never been to one, and I thought I'd take a chance to go before I graduate and no longer can represent The Daily Universe. (I still need to get to a Jazz game.) Anyway, here's the story I did (didn't end up making it into the paper, haha):

Real Salt Lake makes history

Anyway, back to the basketball bad news. I knew immediately that I would write a viewpoint on it on Wednesday. But it turns out I would be depended on for a lot more.

I was in the DU newsroom when there was a call on the phone for me. It was none other than Pat Forde of ESPN.com. He was looking for a campus perspective on the Davies news, and after calling somewhere at BYU was eventually routed to the campus newspaper and then to me. Forde used some of what I had to say in a column:

BYU puts principle over performance

Pretty cool to see my name on ESPN.com!

Then, I wrote my editorial, which is in today's paper:

Honoring the Code

As I was leaving the newsroom, I saw that an e-mail came from Deseret News looking for someone to do a campus story for them. I decided I was too busy, but I handed it over to our man Chuck Krebs who did a great job.

Fans' reaction to Brandon Davies suspension
(We had it in The Daily Universe too, but it looks like it's not on the website yet.)

The rest of the night I stayed in a pretty depressive state while I watched the game.

This morning, I saw that I had a Facebook message from Jasmine Marcus, who introduced herself as the host of Jumpshots with Jasmine, a radio show at Israel Sports Radio based out of Jerusalem. How 'bout that, huh? After going back and forth, I'm scheduled to be on Jasmine's radio show next Tuesday at 9 a.m. MST. From the looks of the website, it looks like you'll be able to listen there, if not live then at least soon after. Be sure to listen in!

Then, today at work, I got a call on my cell phone from Dana O'Neil, another ESPN.com writer. She wasn't writing anything else, she said she just had some questions out of curiosity. She said she got my number from Pat Forde, and that I've become ESPN's go-to guy about the Honor Code.

After that, I got a call from Cory Giger, a DJ for ESPN Radio 1450 AM in State College, PA. I wanted to call me back about a half hour later to go live on his radio show out there. Even though I wasn't too nervous to talk to Pat Forde, Jasmine Marcus, or Dana O'Neil, I was a little nervous to be on live radio. But excited at the same time. Then, I looked him up on Twitter, and he seemed like he might have some animosity toward the Honor Code and maybe toward me. So I got nervous again. Fortunately though, if he had any animosity he didn't express any of that toward me. It went well.

(One interesting question, and probably the most confrontational: He asked me what percentage of students I would predict are out having sex even though they did sign the Honor Code. I told him I know the sex and the alcohol exists around here, but to be honest I wouldn't even know where to look for it. Maybe I just don't know where to look, but I really think it's minimal around here.)

Unfortunately, I don't know where to listen to it online. The 1450 AM website is very outdated. It looks like it might show up at this UStream site eventually, but so far I haven't seen anything. I'll be sure to spread the word the moment I know.

So, even with a website and two radio shows down, that wasn't the end.

Now, there's a possibility I might be on TV.

I got a Facebook message from Sheryll Lamothe from Inside Edition. From what I know about Inside Edition, it seems a kind of gossipy, E! channel style of journalism. But Sheryll was very respectful and interested in what I had to say. She said she read my Daily Universe editorial and was interested in interviewing me for the show. All she has done so far is put me on her list of possible interviews, so nothing is set up yet. And I'm not sure how I would be on TV unless someone from Inside Edition comes to Provo. I guess that will come up later. Anyway, I'm on a TV producer's list!

As far as my actual thoughts on the whole situation, it's basically summed up in my Daily Universe editorial. There's not a whole lot to add other than that.

Originally, I thought that although Davies will be missed, I didn't think it was enough to change game outcomes. We might win by less, or lose by more, but I didn't think it would change Ws to Ls and vice versa.

But after last night, that view might not be accurate. The game against New Mexico was pretty atrocious. I don't think it was a direct result of Davies being missing, but probably indirectly. The whole team was pretty dead. And I don't blame them, I felt pretty dead too. (It doesn't help either that New Mexico was doing really well.) I hope the team can shake this off soon.