Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 me is a lot nicer than 2014 me

I just got done walking down memory lane. I read a few blog posts I wrote last year.

Suffice it to say, I've softened a bit since I wrote those.

2014 was a rough year for me. My wife and I suffered an untimely tragedy that rocked us to the very core. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say this tragedy left me angry, bitter, confused and desperate.

So what does one do in such a situation? One lashes out. And silly as it may sound, I lashed out at BYU. I chose to make BYU football my lightning rod, and I sent bolt after bolt their way. For some reason it felt really good to tear apart something I love. And if that sentence doesn't scare you, something's wrong.

Anyway, that's the context behind the articles I wrote two years ago. Since then I've had time to cool off and re-evaluate my position on BYU. I still love BYU as much as (or more than) I ever have. In fact, I've gone back to school at BYU. I'm a Zoobie again, and I couldn't be more proud.

I still think independence has its drawbacks. But I no longer believe membership in a G5 conference is better than our independence. The thought of going back to the likes of New Mexico and Wyoming makes my skin crawl. Independence is flawed, but it'll have to do until an act of Congress forces a P5 conference to include us.

BYU is in a good place. I love our coaching staff. Kalani Sitake is a great man, and he will be an extraordinary BYU coach. His system, his environment, his culture will make BYU irresistible to recruits, and BYU will continue to rack up signature wins over college football powerhouses.

It's hard being a BYU fan, but I love it. Only the strong survive here. And I can't wait to see what's in store.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The fat part of the bell curve

Before I get into the meat of today’s post, I want to introduce myself. Hi, my name is Adam.

I’ve been a BYU fan my whole life. When I was a kid I cheered for the Cougs with all of my little heart and soul while watching them in my jammy-jams. I loved going to games. The 1996 season was my absolute favorite. I’d watch every game, and then Sunday night I’d stay up and watch sports on KSL to find out where BYU would be ranked.

When the time came, I only applied to one college: BYU. I loved being a BYU student. While I was a student I bought an all-sports pass every year. It was a no-brainer. I went to every football game. Our pre-game hours were spent tailgating. We walked into LaVell Edwards Stadium decked out in blue (or white when the occasion called for it), and during the game my friends and I screamed until we lost our voices. Game days drained us of everything we had.

During basketball season, we used to stand in line for hours to be among the first inside the Marriott Center. And when we got inside we screamed and didn’t stop screaming until the game was over.

As part of my major, I wrote for the BYU daily newspaper, The Daily Universe. The first day of the semester our editor assigned us beats. I shot my hand up in the air and volunteered to cover the baseball team. I went to every game that year at BYU’s beautiful Miller Park, and I loved every second of it. Beyond baseball, I got to cover some off-season football press conferences, and I got to interview Dave Rose for a story I did about the basketball team. Writing for The DU was so much fun.

I graduated from BYU in 2008.

After I graduated, I immediately allocated money in our budget for the BYU Cougar Club. I’ve been a Cougar Club member for six years. Supporting BYU athletics was, and continues to be, important to me.

I replaced my all-sports pass with season tickets. I’ve been a football season ticket holder for six years. In those years I’ve only missed two or three games, and that’s only because I was traveling for my job.

I am not a fairweather fan. I am not a casual fan. I don’t come and go as I please. I am a lifelong BYU Cougar. I’m true blue, through and through. Not every BYU fan is like me. Not every BYU student or alumnus is like me. There are bigger BYU fans in the world, but not many.

And so when I say that independence is snuffing out my love of BYU football, hopefully now that means something to you.

And if independence is having such a negative effect on me, what is it doing to the huge part of the BYU fan population that isn’t as dedicated as me?

Here’s where the bell curve talk comes in. Imagine a bell curve—you all know what a bell curve is, right? Well if you measure intensity among BYU fans, I bet the distribution would look like a bell curve. On the extreme left you’d find people that are always apathetic. On the extreme right you’d find lifelong Cougars like me. But in the middle, the big, fat juicy part where 95% of the fan base resides, you’d find casual fans.

Casual fans have the capacity to swing to the left or the right. They become serious fans when the team is playing well, or when a big opponent comes to town; they become lazy fans when we aren’t playing well, or when there’s nothing to play for. They show up to games when things are good, they stay home when things are bad. They do what they want. They don’t feel pressure to support BYU; they don’t feel like it’s their duty, or that they have some sort of special loyalty to the team or the school. If they want to come to a game, they will. If they don’t, they won’t.

If independence is shaking me, it’s got to be killing casual fans in droves.

If you were in LaVell Edwards Stadium for the last half of the 2014 season, you saw a stadium that was maybe half full. The stadium didn’t sell out all year, but the last three games against Nevada, UNLV and Savannah State were particularly terrible.

And TV ratings are down, too. I crunched some numbers (thanks to for the data), and BYU’s ratings are down about 27% from 2013 to 2014.

I think it’s pretty obvious that independence isn’t working. In fact, I would say it’s killing BYU football. Beyond the quantitative data, like attendance and TV ratings, I also have anecdotal evidence.

My brother is also a BYU grad, and a BYU fan. But he’s in the fat part. He won’t “waste his time” on BYU sports if he’s not interested, but will gladly cheer for the team, go to games and get on board if there's something to cheer for. Suffice it to say, he hasn’t been interested in BYU football since 2010, with some exceptions. He doesn’t really watch games, doesn’t really care about the team. Think what you want about him or fans like him, but he represents the vast majority.

I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who is seriously considering becoming a Utah fan because BYU’s games are so meaningless. This is the same friend that used to heckle Utah fans mercilessly as they were walking into LaVell Edwards Stadium for our annual meeting with our hated rivals.

My dad is also a Cougar Club member and season ticket holder. He’s thinking of giving up both because he’s so disgusted with independence.

If I did any sort of digging whatsoever, I’m sure I could find thousands and thousands of stories just like this. But I still love BYU. And going forward I will still probably go to as many BYU football games as I possibly can.

BYU doesn’t have to worry about guys like me. But they should be worried—very worried—about the fat part of the bell curve.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Is BYU obsessed with money?

I just got an email from the BYU Cougar Club informing me of an upcoming luncheon featuring men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose, and some other coach. Women’s cross country or something.

I know, right? Can you believe I’m a member of the Cougar Club?

Anyway, I love these luncheons. I’ve been going to them for years. It’s fun to hear from the coaches, and a nice little meal is a cool perk for being a part of the Cougar Club.

But sometimes the meals aren’t nice. Like this coming luncheon, for example. The sponsor/caterer is IHC. Intermountain Health Care. The hospital. Now why on earth would BYU, at a luncheon featuring the most popular coach in the entire athletic department, feed some of its biggest boosters hospital food?

I don’t know for sure, but the official answer is probably something like “BYU has a strategic partnership with IHC, and a relationship that goes back decades…” blah blah blah.

I have a feeling it’s a money thing. I bet BYU gets free food (or maybe IHC even pays BYU?), and in return IHC gets some publicity for their healthcare services. Once more, just to be clear, we’re talking about a healthcare provider catering a booster luncheon (“Come for the MRI, stay for the hot wings!”).

I get the impression that BYU likes money. They like saving it, and they like earning it. Who doesn't? But BYU might take it too far. This luncheon is just the kind of evidence that tells me BYU might be obsessed with money. How about some more?

  • BYU’s football independence. Big money deal for BYU. We get lots of TV money (no one knows how much, but it’s a lot more than we were making in the MWC), and we get all the bowl money if/when we get an invitation to a bowl game. 
  • EVERYTHING has a sponsor. From the Grandma Sycamore Bread third down conversion, to the NuSkin video board, to the little Alaska Airlines logos you see when you look at the basketball schedule online. EVERYTHING at BYU is sponsored. 
  • BYU can’t stop talking about how its athletic department makes money, while the majority don’t. Yes, that is something to be proud of. I’m proud of it. But I would be much more excited, as a fan, if we were winning tons of games and going to NY6 bowls. Do you think Ohio State fans are pissed off because their athletic department is losing money?

It’s not a big deal to be obsessed with money, I suppose. College sports is a business, after all. But where I start to get a little miffed is when money gets in the way of what’s best for the sport.

Say, for example, that BYU is invited to join the Big 12, but we wouldn’t be a full money-sharing partner for five years. Do you think BYU would take that deal? I don’t.

Or say a top basketball recruit chooses Utah over BYU because Utah has a better basketball practice facility. And the only reason why BYU doesn’t have a similar facility is because a private donor hasn’t given them enough money for it. Are you okay with that? I’m not.

Props and kudos to the BYU athletic department for being profitable when so many others aren’t, but I sincerely hope their desire for money isn’t hurting the program in the long run. I hope BYU is ponying up the dough for its teams.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

BYU football independence: Pros and cons

I am no fan of independence, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize its advantages. Independence has some serious advantages over G5 (even P5) conference affiliation. But to me, none of independence's advantages matter.

To you, though, they might. 

Here are the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, of independence, as I see them. If I'm missing something, let me know. Otherwise, look it over and decide which camp gets your support.

Independence Pros:
  • Money, money, money. We get lots and lots of money as an independent. We signed our own TV deal with ESPN worth lots of money, and every time we go to a bowl game we get to keep all the prize money to ourselves. Hooray for money! 
  • ESPN. Like I said in the above point, we signed our own independent TV deal with ESPN (NOTE: This deal is for BYU home games only. When BYU plays away games, they are subject to that school's TV agreement.). I don't know all the details of the deal, but I think the contract says we'll have at least like three games on either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU a year, and those games will take place on either Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. ESPN has the option, of course, of picking up any home games they want and showing them on whatever channel they want. ESPN has also granted us re-broadcast rights, so we can show game replays on BYUTV. Speaking of which...
  • BYUTV. ESPN has been very good to us in regards to BYUTV. They let BYUTV broadcast at least one home game every year, and they're totally cool with BYUTV airing replays of home games.
  • Scheduling. As an independent, we (in theory) have the freedom to schedule anyone in the country, any time during the football season. This is why have played and will play games against Wisconsin, Texas, Notre Dame, Cal, Missouri, Nebraska, West Virginia, Stanford, USC, and so on.
  • Exposure. Because we have our own TV deal, and because we play all over the country, we get lots and lots of opportunities to get our name out there. Build the BYU brand. And we also have a pretty nice little national fan base who gets to come watch some BYU football in their various necks of the woods when we take our team on the road. Thousands of southern-fried BYU fans made the trip to see BYU play Middle Tennessee State earlier this year, for example. And when we do something memorable, like beat the heck out of Texas on their home field, we get lots of credit for it. 
Now for the cons.

Independence Cons:
  • No guarantees. As an independent, we are on an island. Concerning post-season play, we have no contracts, no stipulations, no tie-ins, no guarantees. I'm not saying we can never have those things as an independent (Notre Dame does), but so far we haven't been able to negotiate or wiggle our way into any kind of bowl agreement (let alone any kind of agreement with the Playoff or the NY6).
  • No explicit NY6 or Playoff access. Since BYU is not affiliated with any conference, we don't have any guaranteed access to the NY6 bowl games or the College Football Playoff. All we have is the hope that we can win enough games to get us high enough in the rankings that one of those bowl games would make us an at-large selection. We'd have to be at least in the top 10 for that ever to happen... probably more like top five. 
  • One and done. For BYU to get into the top five, they'd probably have to go undefeated. MAYBE they could get there with one loss if their schedule was super tough. Most years, though, when BYU loses once their dreams of an NY6 game or a national championship goes up in smoke. And then after that first loss it's just exhibition games until we get to whatever low-tier bowl game we have an agreement with that year. 
  • No conference championships or awards. Whether you think it's a big deal or not, the fact is we have no conference championship trophy to play for. And no weekly or annual conference awards for players. Which feeds into the whole one-loss "nothing to play for" scenario described above. 
  • Home scheduling. Yes, we can schedule (and have scheduled) big-name teams to play us all throughout the year as an independent. But the vast majority of those big-time games are a long ways away from Provo. And the return trips are a long ways into the future. Take our recent agreement with Missouri: BYU will play Missouri next year in Kansas City, and then Missouri will come back to Provo in 2020. Or Wisconsin. BYU played Wisconsin in Madison last year, but they won't come play us in Provo until 2019. Or Notre Dame. On the day we announced our independence, we also announced a four-away, two-at-home series with Notre Dame. They agreed to play in Provo twice at a date later to be determined. Well BYU played twice in South Bend, but Notre Dame has yet to schedule any return trip. Meanwhile, our home schedules have been filled with FCS teams like Idaho State and Savannah State, or G5 teams like UNLV, Utah State and Nevada.
  • Other home scheduling woes. ESPN has the TV rights to our home schedule, so they can schedule our games for whatever times suit them best. That means BYU vs. Nevada is three-and-a-half hours of content ESPN can use on a Friday night in October at, say, 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Fine for them, but as a fan it's no fun watching a BYU football game at 8:30 p.m. in November.
I think that's about it, although I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting at least one more con... oh well. 

So as a BYU fan (I'm assuming you are one) you have to ask yourself what's important. Is it money? TV time? Lots of travel around the country? Then independence is for you.

Or do you value NY6 access? Conference championships? Meaningful regular season games? If yes, then you are like me, and would rather BYU be in a conference (G5 or otherwise). 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Boise State: I want what you have.

It's New Year's Eve, 2014. I just finished watching Boise State beat Arizona, the Pac-12 South Champions, in the Fiesta Bowl. And it got me thinking about BYU.

Some context: Boise State is a two-loss team, and the MWC champions. They were ranked No. 20 in the final coaches or AP or playoff poll. Whatever the one is that actually counts. They got to the Fiesta Bowl because the NY6 rules stipulate the highest ranked G5 team gets an automatic invitation. Boise State, even though they had two losses, was that team.

They beat Arizona because they've got good players and a great coach who knows how to develop them... but that's a different topic for a different day.

So what does a BSU Fiesta Bowl win have to do with BYU? Well, frankly, I want what they have. I want BYU to play in a big bowl game. And I just can't help but think that an independent BYU with two losses would never, ever make it to the Fiesta Bowl.

NY6 Access (or lack thereof): One of the many reasons why independence sucks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I worry about the future of BYU football

I was at the game on Saturday night. The game in which BYU beat UNLV 42-23. I had a great time. Thank goodness I've got seats with Ross, Jeris, Lance and Eric. Becky and Megan were there too, and the seven of us (plus Gabe) had lots and lots of fun talking, laughing, freezing our bums off and casually watching BYU play a meaningless game against a terrible opponent.

It was a classic November game in the Independent BYU era. All it was missing was the 8:30 p.m. start time.

The stadium was maybe 2/3 full at its fullest, which was a period of probably 12 minutes in the second quarter. By the time the game ended, I bet there were only 200 people left in the stands. Which had to be a blow to the ego of the nice little man who came to midfield to invite BYU to the Miami Beach Bowl.

It was supposed to be a blackout. You know, the thing where all the fans wear black? To make it more effective, though, the BYU marketing people should have painted the benches black. Because that's all we saw.

Looking around at the empty seats made me sad. I don't blame people for not showing up. If I didn't see this as a fun night out with friends, I probably wouldn't have gone either.

Parenthetically, how depressing is it that BYU home games have been reduced to "night out" status? It's one notch above wandering around the mall for an hour.

Anyway, looking around at all the empty seats made me think. I started to remember my past experiences at BYU home games. When I was a kid I used to go to games with my dad and my older brothers. I remember Notre Dame coming to Provo, UCLA, Virginia, Washington and others. I remember big conference games against Air Force (I hated Air Force as a kid), San Diego State and of course Utah.

When I was a student at BYU, during the John Beck/Max Hall years, I joined the sold-out BYU crowds (66,000 strong every week) to watch BYU destroy Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico and the rest. I remember tough games against TCU every year, and epic November finales against Utah. I rushed the field with thousands of other students and fans when we beat New Mexico in 2006 to secure the MWC championship.

Last Saturday the only thing the students were rushing was the exit. In the third quarter.

My BYU fanaticism was born of experiences I had when I was a kid and when I was a student. Today's students and kids aren't as lucky as me; exhilarating experiences like I enjoyed every week are few and far between these days. Today's students and kids are being force-fed meaningless, lackluster, energy-depleted games late at night in the freezing cold against awful teams. It's looking more and more like today's students would rather be in the library than in the crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

That does not bode well for BYU, and it's exactly what I mean when I say independence is killing BYU football. If independence is BYU's long-term plan, then get ready to see even more sparse, quiet crowds and even more fans that sink deeper and deeper into apathy.

Yeah, Saturday's crowd made me sad. It looked to me like a BYU fanbase that has been beaten down by years of mediocre football, meaningless games and an ESPN "partner" who sees us as nothing more than three hours of content on a Saturday night. The fans are tired of it, and they're voting with their cars.

Hopefully Tom Holmoe, Kevin Worthen and the BYU Board of Trustees can figure out an alternative to independence, because if they don't the future of BYU football is going to be very sad.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm Back! And I'm not happy.

BYU just scheduled a two-game series with Missouri. The first game will be played next year in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City (home of the Kansas City Chiefs), and the Missouri will return to Provo sometime in November of 2020.

That’s the news that woke me from my long sleep. The sleep that has kept me away from writing on my blog (a blog which I still pay $10 a year for, btw… Domain name protection probzz, am I right?).

Actually, I’ve been awake for a while. Up till now I’ve just been whining and pussing out (Seth’s words, not mine) to my friends on email. But I think they all got tired of this new version of me, so I’m turning back to my beloved blog. My blog, which doesn’t judge me even when I abandon my blue-goggled optimism in favor of a sour, disgusting (yet chillingly realistic) pessimism. My blog, which has been waiting for me all these years like a loyal Labrador. My blog, which will love me even when all the humans hate me. Well I’m back, boy. I’m back.

Okay then. Now, just a quick note to get you all caught up to where I’m at: I hate independence, my passion has been snuffed out, and I can’t shake the feeling that BYU football is dying a slow, slow death.

Yay! Want to keep reading?

Everyone seems to be really happy with the announcement that we booked Missouri for a two-game series starting next year. Really, really happy. All the Whos down in Whoville are singing and dancing, but I’m not there with them. I, the Grinch, am standing ominously on my lonely mountain drumming my fingers and scowling.

I see this game a little differently. I see this game as a non-conference “catch our breath” kinda game for Missouri. The SEC is notorious for scheduling these games in November. That’s why Presbyterian, Charleston Southern, Southern Alabama, East Kentucky, UT Martin and other lightweights appear on the scoreboards in the late season.

And next year we’ll see BYU there! Yay for us! Go Cougars!

Oh but you’re right, this is different. This game is in a neutral site. A neutral site that happens to be 119 miles away from the University of Missouri. A neutral site, but Missouri is going to keep all the revenue, just exactly as if it was a home game for them, and then pay us a nominal fee for our trouble.

Oh, and this is different because Missouri signed a deal to come back and play us in Provo… in six years. To quote Jeris: “A lot can happen in six years.” Babies will turn into kids, kids will turn into tweens, houses will be bought and sold, careers will change, and the University of Missouri will find a way to back out of their return trip to Provo.

Remember when we signed a six-game deal with Notre Dame? Four in South Bend and two in Provo? We played two in South Bend. And then the Irish said they’re done.

I am absolutely certain we won’t see the Missouri Tigers in LaVell Edwards Stadium. If I’m wrong, I will buy everyone who reads this a nice, refreshing, high fructose corn syrup-free Mexican Coke.

No, I’m afraid BYU is just getting kicked around again. And that’s kind of the way things are going for us right now. ESPN uses and abuses us, no conference wants us, and P5 teams treat us like garbage. We are College Football’s scrappy little hanger-on who just wants to be a part of the team. We are Ollie from Hoosiers (“I only count as half a player… equipment manager’s my trade”).

But on the bright side, we’ve got a GREAT road schedule next year. We’re playing a lot of great teams in their buildings. That’s going to be really fun for us.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Jake Heaps Timeline

The 2011 football season was one of the most fascinating in recent memory. So fascinated am I, in fact, that I had to write one more blog post about it.

This season was the Rattlesnake Rapids of football seasons. We fans were taken to dizzying heights, devastating lows, and turbulent middles. Our expectations were sky high when the season started, but then by the end we were happy just to scrape out a win over a mediocre Tulsa team in the Armed Forces Bowl.

And in the middle of it all was a baby-faced quarterback from Issaquah, Washington: Jake Heaps. I've been thinking a lot about the course of events that led Jake to transfer, and with your permission I'd like to present them now with just a little tiny bit of commentary.

December 18, 2010: BYU beats UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, 52-24. Jake Heaps had 264 yards passing, four TDs and 1 INT. He was named the bowl MVP, and definitely ended a rocky 2010 season on a high note. BYU fans like me saw nothing but bright lights for 2011.

January 4, 2011: Bronco Mendenhall names Brandon Doman the new Offensive Coordinator. Doman promises to bring unpredictability and explosiveness back to BYU with his new "pro-style" offense. Jake Heaps, who played in a spread offense since he was a freshman in high school, says he can't wait.

Spring, 2011: Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall admits (finally) that Jake Heaps will be the unquestioned starter in 2011. Heaps, during a very good batch of spring practices, continually refers to the 2011 Cougars as "his team."

Summer, 2011: According to BYU columnist Dick Harmon (and unbeknownst to fans), Jake Heaps misses all but three of the 66 scheduled team practices. Is this where the team started taking Riley's side?

July 13, 2011: BYU Media Day, and this famous quote from Jake Heaps: "There's only championship to play for now and that's the national championship." Expectations continue to soar.

August 6, 2011: BYU opens fall camp. Jake Heaps has an incredible camp in which he completes almost all of his passes without many mistakes. The 2011 Cougars are a mix of youth, experience, raw talent and hard work. USC transfers Uona Kaveinga and Hebron Fangupo are expected to make a big splash on what is assumed will be a stingy defense, and the offense is projected to be among BYU's best, with a returning core of skill players (including the much heralded Heaps and his favorite 2010 target Cody Hoffman). Fans are foaming at the mouth, dreaming of the elusive undefeated season and subsequent BCS bowl.

September 3, 2011: BYU beats Ole Miss 14-13. The offense looked bad. Jake Heaps showed a strange combination of costly hesitation and nervous anxiety. Kyle Van Noy saved the day with an extraordinary defensive touchdown to seal the win. BYU fans brush off the offensive performance with excuses like "BYU always starts slow," "It's a new offense with a new OC," and "Ole Miss needed the win more than BYU."

September 10, 2011: BYU loses to Texas 16-17. Jake Heaps looks great early, but then flatlines in the second half to let Texas come back and win. Brandon Doman shoulders most of the blame. Note: The first half of this game was the highlight of Jake's year.

September 17, 2011: That fateful day. BYU loses to their arch rivals, the Utah Utes (or is it Hawks?), 54-10. Jake finds new and creative ways to turn the ball over, including tossing the ball in our own endzone so the Utes could recover it for a TD on the first play of the game. Jake's follies land him on ESPN's "Not Top Ten," and Cougars everywhere hit an epic low.

September 23, 2011: BYU barely beats what turned out to be a very bad Central Florida team, 24-17. Jake Heaps did very little to help the team win. Rather, it was Cody Hoffman's 93-yard Kickoff return TD that made the difference.

September 30, 2011: Another week, another painful look into the poor play and poorer execution of a once proud quarterback. Jake Heaps is ineffective against an improving but still bad Utah State Aggie squad. Utah State leads for most of the game, and finally Jake Heaps is benched in the third quarter. The crowd goes wild as Riley Nelson enters the game, and they go even wilder when Riley leads his team back from the dead and to the sweet shores of victory. A wild hail mary to McKay Jacobson and a miraculous deflection TD to Marcus Matthews sealed the win for the Cougars, and Jake Heaps' future at BYU started to disintegrate.

November 12, 2011: Heaps, who watched silently on the sidelines for six straight weeks, finally got called into action when the Idaho Vandals knocked Riley Nelson out of the game with a cracked rib and punctured lung. Heaps responds well, throwing for 185 yards and 2 TDs.

November 19, 2011: Heaps gets his first start since the Utah State game, and crushes the Aggies of New Mexico with 238 yards passing and 4 TDs. Despite two solid weeks from the sophomore phenom, Bronco insists that Riley Nelson will start again when he is healthy.

December 3, 2011: Riley Nelson is back. After a speedy recovery, Nelson makes the trip to Hawaii and BYU pounds the Warriors 41-20. Riley Nelson passes for an eye-popping 363 yards and 3 TDs (and not a single interception). Heaps gets some play in mop-up time, and his final pass as a BYU Cougar was a zippy incompletion on a McKay Jacobson out route. Fitting.

Decenber 5, 2011: Jake Heaps announces he will transfer from BYU. Eager for someone to blame, fans point fingers at coaches, players and Heaps himself, but the fact remains: Our golden boy, the QB that was supposed to win us a National Championship, no longer wanted to be a BYU Cougar.

What an incredible year. Clearly getting benched vs. Utah State was the turning point of Jake Heaps' Cougar career. Had Jake stayed in the game, we almost certainly would have lost. Riley showed guts in his comeback win, and he earned a shot to start the next week.

Riley had a lot of success as a starter in 2011, but how much of that success was simply due to bad competition? I could argue, for example, that Jake would have beaten San Jose State, Oregon State and Idaho State just as badly as Riley Nelson did. So was it wise to let Nelson take the credit?

It was a tough position for our coaches, and We'll debate their decisions for years and years, but you can't argue that Jake badly underperformed in his Sophomore season at BYU. He looked uncomfortable and jumpy. He had no touch on his throws, and even though there were glimpses of pure talent, by and large Jake Heaps turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Clearly Jake and Riley could not coexist at BYU. Riley, the tough and gritty no-name who did whatever he could to get on the field and help the team win, and Jake the rocket-armed 5-star recruit who went to all the right camps, said all the right things and built himself into an NFL quarterback. They just didn't get along.

And Jake couldn't take it anymore.

I would have preferred Jake Heaps stay at BYU, redshirt and start his career anew in 2013. Taking his lumps, staying home and redshirting, all in the name of helping his team improve, would have done much to heal the wounds suffered in the locker room as a consequence of having to live with a QB controversy for two straight years.

But for the first time in his life, Jake Heaps was challenged. And instead of fight, he flew the coop. It's sad. And that's why this season will always live on as one of the most fascinating in Cougar history.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I trust BYU

This could have been a huge year for BYU. Unfortunately, we failed every test we were handed on the field, and it looks like we can't do much better off it.

We didn't just lose to TCU, Utah and Texas this year. We lost out on membership in the Big 12 and the Big East conferences. BYU's Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said we never really had an official invitation to the Big 12, but my gut says we could have been a member if BYU was willing to play ball.

Big East negotiations were a little more open. The Big East made it publicly known that they wanted BYU, and even extended an invitation to join the conference as a football-only member. Negotiations stalled, however, because BYU reportedly would not budge in their insistence that they keep the broadcast rights to their home games.

I like independence. But I think I like the idea of being in a BCS conference even more. I, like a lot of fans, was disappointed twice this year as I saw talks with not one but two BCS conferences break down due, seemingly, to BYU's stubbornness.

But you know what? Through all the drama, all the soundbytes, all the unnamed sources and all the heartbreak, one thing remains: The thing I like the most is BYU.

So my official position regarding all future discussion of conference expansion is this: I TRUST BYU.

Furthermore, I trust our AD, our school's president and the Board of Trustees. I truly believe they have BYU's best interest in mind. Do you? So, therefore, when they decide it's not worth it to sell our souls to jump into a BCS conference, guess what? I'm on board.

Because here's the real thing: Despite what articles I read and what Twitter feeds I follow, I have no idea what's happening in these meetings between BYU and conference officials. And you don't either. The only guys who truly know what's going on are the people in that boardroom, or on that conference call. And they're a lot smarter than me and you. So I refuse to spend my energy lashing out at BYU over negotiations and conditions I know nothing about. It's useless, and it's foolish.

I'm in BYU's corner. Loyal, strong and true.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The 600-pound podcast in the room


So it's the middle of football season, and as you can see I have been a neglectful blogger. It's embarrassing, I know.

But this time I have an excuse! I haven't just been watching football in my living room covered in the dust of a dozen jelly donuts. I've actually been doing things! I've been discussing the games, breaking down film, talking out victories and defeats.

I just haven't been doing it here.

ASB fans, I'm delighted to announce I've started a podcast with two of my good friends, Jeris and Trevor. It's called Death Star D and you can find it at

(I know: Not only am I betraying my blog, I'm betraying the whole blogger platform. Please forgive me, Google.)

Every week Jeris, Trevor and I talk out the games, give our takes, make predictions and crack wise. It's our chance to do what we love, namely talk BYU sports, and present the conversation to an audience of... 10s?

Check us out at, and give us a listen. You can find every episode on our site, as well as iTunes. Just search for Death Star D (Can you believe no one snatched that name before we did?)

Oh by the way, don't for one second think I'm abandoning my blog like an infant in the snow. I still have a great love of the written word, and I'll be back every time something irks me so badly I just need to write it out.