Tuesday, October 30, 2007

U embarrass us.

Raise your hands everybody- who caught the Utah/CSU game last Saturday? How about the UNLV/New Mexico game? And the Utah State/Utah game a few weeks ago? Anybody?

I'm guessing most of you aren't raising your hands. Why? Because I doubt a game will have much television viewership if it can't even attract fans to the stands to watch it live.

I am one of the few who can watch football on The mtn. - the official crappy station of the MWC. Along with juvenile play-by-play guys and horrible camera work, I have noticed something while watching these games. No one is in the stands. No one. Ever.

Case in point: I secretly root for the Aggies of Utah State, I'll be honest. Utah State is like the little brother I never had. Anyway, I watched their game at Utah with much interest, but I was sad to note that there were only 20 or so people in the stands. I took my mind off the game for a while to try and spot more people, but unless they were all out buying libations I don't think they were there.
Here it was, an in-state rivalry game, and the stadium wasn't even close to being half-way full. For the U. of U. Stadium, that's equivalent to about 1/4 full down here at BYU.

The trend has followed Utah to every one of its home games. Not only that, but hoards of empty seats are present at every stadium around the MWC on game day. Anyone who saw the aforementioned Utah/CSU game knows what I'm talking about.

What does this mean for a BYU fan like myself?

First of all, it's downright embarrassing. These other teams in our conference make me absolutely sick. Where's the pride? Where's the passion? The lack of interest at other schools is a black mark on our conference. To a casual passer-by, the MWC might understandably be mistaken for the middle-weight pee-wee division championships.

Second, it's painfully apparent that BYU flat out does not belong with this group of losers. Don't get me wrong- the teams are talented, and they give us competition in every sport. The programs, however, are more akin to Snow College down in Ephraim. (No disrespect to Snow, by the way. They're on their way to a JC national championship. But I digress.) BYU has a national following, the highest attendance for any non-BCS school (even ahead of a whole lot of BCS schools), a nationally recognized football team, a Heisman winner, a national championship, a whole heap of bowl appearances, boosters, facilities, etc.

BYU also has, I might add, one of the few athletic programs in the nation that is in the black - meaning, it's making money instead of draining it.

Yet here we are in a conference with a bunch of drunken inbreds (Wyoming), Pac-10 dropouts (UNLV), dirty hippies (Utah), and Texas' retarded little brother (TCU).

BYU is a BCS program stuck in a JC conference. It's embarrassing, and it ticks me right off - especially since there's nothing we can do about it. All we can do is sit back and hope and pray for that one magical day we get an invite to be in a BCS conference...

It will come. Just believe!

(Note: For an interesting read, check out this article from Gordon Monson)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spread The Good Word

So I guess BYU has another bye week. Postponing the game is the right decision, don't get me wrong, but I already had to suffer through one bye week. I'm not excited to go through another BYU-less Saturday.

But here I am, so I might as well make the most of it.

I want to write about something I thought about as I was in Disney Land with my wife and her family. When I was packing for the trip, I had a very distinct thought to bring plenty of BYU gear. This is another piece of evidence that my obsession with BYU sports has gone too far: I not only see vacations as getaways, I see them as opportunities to spread my support of BYU to an unknowing audience.

It may seem a bit pathetic, but I really feel like I'm doing good when I show support for BYU on the road. You never know- a high school recruit could see that oval Y on my chest and it could change his life. In fact, someone once told me the only reason Michael Reed committed to BYU is because he saw a BYU bumper sticker while he was visiting San Antonio (that story is completely false).

The best part is, though, I'm not the only person who thinks like this. It may surprise you to know that of all the college shirts I saw in the DL (UCLA, USC, Oregon, even Utah), BYU outnumbered them all by far. I spotted BYU shirts everywhere: Main St. USA, Tomorrowland, The Jungle Cruise, The Tiki Room, everywhere. I know, I know, some of you will say that's just because BYU fans are all gay and they like being at gay Disney Land, but I think it's something else.

True BYU fans know it's their duty to promote BYU athletics where'er they may be. We band together, and we know we have a part to play in the vast scheme of Cougar sports, and we take advantage of every opportunity we get to spread the good word. So remember this when you plan your next road trip: Pack your blue, and proclaim good tidings about BYU.

And for the record, yes, I do love Disney Land.

Baseball is King... In October

It's amazing how many people come out of the woodworks in October and claim they love baseball.

I'm one of them.

Who can honestly say they didn't get in to the MLB playoffs this year? How can you not love what the Rockies have done? The sweeps? The bug-infested Jacobs Field? What's not to like?

Last night I, as well as every other red-blooded American man, watched Game 2 of the World Series. It was by no means an offensive game, ending 1-2 in favor of the Red Sox, but I found it to be extremely interesting nevertheless.

Watching Curt Schilling last night was like watching a master artist work with colors and canvas. Schilling is a middle-aged, average-looking, slightly overweight guy who, if you just happened to see him on the street, you would probably peg as a hillbillie or a trucker. Yet he has command over a baseball like I've never seen. He is nowhere near the dominant pitcher he used to be, but his pitches broke, curved, slid and snuck past almost every opposing batter last night. For that reason I must admit, although there were no exciting home runs or offensive outbursts, the game was very enjoyable.

Baseball is getting good, my friends. It's a pity that the season has to end right when it's at its most interesting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Harvey vs. Kyle

I read a fantastic article today written by Gordon Monson: Cougar RB able to rebuild life in shambles. In it, Monson tells Harvey Unga's story - a story I certainly didn't know. I had no idea, for instance, that Harvey used to beat down snow cone shacks for extra change and sell perscription drugs on the street (I have you intrigued, don't I? Read the article, you'll be shocked).

Anyway, Unga literally rebuilt his life and became the nice guy bruiser we all know and love today. His story is definitely worthy of everyone's attention, if for no other reason than it demonstrates that a man can change.

However, there is one part of his story I find particularly interesting. Read Monson's account of Unga's recruiting experience:

"In the early days of 2005, Unga slimmed his choices to Utah and BYU, and orally committed to the Utes in January.

"Things there looked good from the outside," he says. "It was during Coach [Urban] Meyer's era, the Fiesta Bowl, and all the glamour."

But, a week or so before the national signing day, Unga called new Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and told him he had decided instead to go to BYU.

"He was pretty upset," Unga says. "Whittingham said, 'Those guys are going to switch you to linebacker.' He was like, 'You're going to wish you never went there. You're going to call back and want to go to Utah.' It turned me off. He flipped on me."

That same night, Unga called longtime BYU assistant coach Lance Reynolds to tell him that he would not be going to BYU, that he was going to stick with his original decision to attend Utah, just to see what Reynolds' reaction would be.

"He told me," Unga says, "'You're going to do great things up there. . . . It's going to be tough when we play you guys. . . . We know you're going to be a great player.'

"I thought, 'These are the kind of guys I want to play for.' "

Finally! We loyal Cougar fans have an insider's perspective of the devious and snake-like Kyle Whittingham! Can you believe his reaction? I can almost feel the desperation in his pleas. He responds to a young man's desire with biting jealousy and bitterness. "You're going to call up and beg to come back to us," he says. What a joke. Kyle Whittingham has become a dark and evil man. I'm ashamed to call him a former Cougar.

Monson contrasts Whitt's villainy beautifully with RB coach Lance Reynold's response: We're sad, but we wish you the best of luck - you're a great player. Talk about two programs with different philosophies: One is so desperate to be successful they will demean and attack an 18-year-old boy, the other has the individual's best interest as its only concern.

This does make me wonder, though, about what is being said to some of our in-state recruits. How do these bully coaches influence impressionable teenagers? Did something similar happen to Sealver Siliga?

In any event, I'm profoundly happy BYU has Harvey Unga. The redshirt freshman has proven he's worth his weight in gold. I'm equally happy he has found an environment to suit his newly changed heart. All the best, Harvey, and as if you didn't already know by now: you made the right choice.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back From Vegas and The Better Team Won

Going down to Vegas is fun; coming back always sucks. For some reason, the drive down is always a lot more pleasant than the drive home. But I'm back here in my sweet Provo home after another successful weekend for the BYU Cougars, and I can't wait to get my blog on.
First of all, we got the win, but it was not a pretty win. Turnovers again proved to be costly. Max Hall threw three interceptions, Matt Allen fumbled away his first catch of the game, and Austin Collie and Michael Reed both almost gave the ball away too.
The only steady Cougar on the team was Harvey "Unga is pronounced OOO-nga" Unga. Unga piled rushing yards on the UNLV defense like the fat guy sitting in the corner of the Carnival Buffet piled crab legs and cheap egg rolls on plate after weighed-down plate. I absolutely love it when BYU runs like they did on Saturday night. The O-line attacks the defense, the RBs find holes, and the drives last a long time. The passing game is always exciting, but when BYU runs the ball effectively good things happen.
Also, UNLV RB Frank "the Stank" Summers proved once again that hype dies against BYU. The supposed beast/man-child/indestructible colossus gained a measly 51 yards against BYU's defense. News flash: UNLV can recruit all the USC and Cal dropouts they want, but they'll still suck.
Speaking of Frank, I saw this in a local fake newspaper:
Special Report - One day later, BYU players respond to Frank Summers' poor play: "We watched the film today, and we just kind of laughed at all the times he [Summers] dived at our ankles after a while. He was just throwing himself in front of us."

Coach Mike Sanford said it was evident from watching the film that Summers was afraid to be tackled by BYU linebackers Bryan Kehl and David Nixon. "He was afraid of getting hit, no question in my mind," he told reporters.

Friday, October 12, 2007

BYU Basketball: The other fall sport

Right when the women in our lives thought life couldn't get any worse, it turns out the sports gods are cramming one more sport into the month of October -- namely, college and pro basketball. Specifically, the BYU basketball season starts with the Cougar Tipoff on October 24. No, that's not a typo; Wednesday, October 24-- as in, 12 days from now.

Not surprisingly, I am just as big a BYU basketball fan as I am a football fan. Basketball games are incredibly fun. For those who are sitting on the fence, I urge you to give BYU basketball a chance. The games are loud, intense, fast, exciting, and it's more of an evening event, rather than an all-day kind of a thing. Not only that, but BYU is good. Like, top-25 good.

Last year BYU won the regular season MWC championship, and then lost a heartbreaker to UNLV in the MWC tournament (only because UNLV had the home court advantage, but that's a separate issue). This year, look for BYU to defend its title and dominate the MWC for a second-straight year. They lost Keena Young, MWC player of the year, but gained some impressive recruits, pictured here. The notable new Cougars include:

Lamont Morgan - Saddleback Community College. Morgan will probably be the starting point guard, and is known for his speed and defense.

Chris Collinsworth - Provo HS. An all-state power forward, Chris brings size, height and shooting ability. He'll add valuable depth to an already versatile group of big men.

Jimmer Fredette - Glenns Falls HS (NY). If there's one thing BYU could use, it's a solid 2 guard; Jimmer Fredette is BYU's answer. Jimmer brings an incredible shooting ability to the court. He will be able to add range to the Cougar offense.

BYU will also welcome back Chris Miles from his mission. Anyone who saw Chris when he was a freshman in 2004 knows this kid is good. He will be a great complement to Trent Plaisted. The Cougars are going to be lightning quick, but also powerful down low.

Additionally, BYU will have Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari keeping other teams on their toes.

BYU also plays Louisville, Wake Forest, Michigan State and possible North Carolina this year (I say "possibly" because NC is part of a preseason tournament with BYU and both BYU and NC would have to win their respective games to play each other).

It may seem like it's here a bit early, but I am pumped about the upcoming basketball season. The Cougars will be deeper, faster, stronger and more athletic than they ever were before, and if I were a betting man I'd put it all on the Cougars to repeat as MWC champions.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007: The Day in Sports

It was a day of joy; it was a day of sadness. It was a day of triumph; it was a day of "what the?!" I speak, of course, of today, October 5, 2007.

First of all, did anyone catch the Utah/Louisville game tonight? I have to say, Utah is becoming less a hated rival and more a hilarious comedy sideshow to me. I am beyond hating the Utes; now I laugh at their extreme bipolar personality disorder. Just like that one friend who watched WCW with you in seventh grade, and then later turned into a drugged-out loser in eighth grade, the University of Utah can't seem to find a clear definition of who they are. They get stuffed by Air Force, then go on to kill UCLA. They get shut-out at UNLV, then go on to humiliate Louisville on national TV. I don't understand how Utah can get up for big games, but I'm not mad. I guess it's because I don't view Utah as a threat anymore. They're just funny to me. Let it rain, Utah Utes. Let it rain.

Now, in baseball news, it was a great day for guys like me who have a natural affinity toward New England and the Boston Red Sox. I've never been to Boston, but the people of New Hampshire really taught me to love the Red Sox, and I was fortunate enough to catch the end of game 2 between Boston and Anaheim tonight. Let me set the stage: 2 outs, 2 on. David Ortiz had just been walked, and Manny Ramirez takes the first pitch for ball 1. The second pitch was a fastball right down the gullet, and Ramirez put the wood on that thing like Ric Flair putting a figure-four leg lock on the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (too many wrestling references?). Anyway, Ramirez hits a three-run shot out of the park, and I could hear the roar from Fenway clear in Provo. The Red Sox won thanks to Ramirez' walk-off homer, and I have to admit, it was a cool thing to see.

Also, the Yankees lost. Good for the Indians! My dad was a little upset about this since he is a big Yankees fan, but I tried to tell him: This isn't the Yankees you used to love. This isn't Joe DiMaggio's or Mickey Mantle's team any more. The Babe is long gone, as is Yogi Berra. The Yankees of 2007 are an evil empire made up of money-grubbing pretty boys who sold their souls for a chance to win a World Series. That being said, You know what makes me so happy? Even with all their money, all their talent and all their resources, the Yankees still can't seem to win a championship. They're the Notre Dame of Major League Baseball.

What a good day for sports fans. Tomorrow promises to be just as good too- LSU beating the tar out of Florida, Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Red River Shoot Out, and Elder Eyring laying the smack down on all you sinners out there. Let's get it on!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is Pitta the New Harline?

Anyone who has seen each of the five BYU football games this season has to be impressed with a young lad named Dennis Pitta. He always seems to find the open field, his hands are as sure as the North Star, and he can bruise downfield with the best of 'em.

Inevitably, comparisons started to be made between Pitta and his near-legendary predecessor Jonny Harline. Harline appeared midway through the 2005 season, and one-hand-caught his way into Cougar fans' hearts through 2006. Harline's place in Cougar lore is solid, no doubt, but the young Pitta has turned many-a-head since his return from honorable missionary service.

So where do you stand? Are you a Pitta guy, or are you still in Harline's camp?

By no means is anyone forced to choose between the two, but I think we all should recognize how great an athlete Dennis Pitta really is. Therefore, I present stats through the first five games of Harline's senior season (2006) and the current season, 2007, Pitta's sophomore season.

Jonny Harline Through Five Games in 2006:
Rec: 21
Yards: 323
Avg. Yards per Catch: 15.4
TD: 2

Dennis Pitta Through Five Games in 2007:
Rec: 24
Yards: 375
Avg. Yards per catch: 15.6
TD: 3

There you have it. Pitta's stats through five games as a sophomore are slightly better in every category than those of Jonny Harline's as a senior. This could be due both to the athleticism of the player and the offensive system, but I believe it's both. BYU has been blessed with some gifted athletes at TE over the years, and the offensive system takes advantage of that strength.

So to sum up: Jonny Harline, thank you for all you've done.

Dennis Pitta, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Prognostication Update

I am having a good year so far in the world of fake-betting. So far my record stands at a respectable 14-8 with a winning percentage of .636. I have won $130 as of this date.

Also, my fantasy football team is now 4-o, even without Brian Westbrook in week 4.

It appears the stars in my fantasy world are all aligned. I wish my real life was this successful.