In typical Adam's Sports Blog fashion, here I am talking about an event that was old news three days ago.
I'd like to think, though, that what I lack in timeliness I make up for in charm.
Riley Nelson, for those of you who have decided to cut all communication with the sports world until fall camp begins, has decided to transfer to BYU. Riley Nelson was a star QB at Logan HS, where he was named a Parade All-American. He signed with Utah State out of high school and played in 2006. He was one bright spot in what was otherwise a dismal and lowly Aggie team.
I watched him play just a little bit that year, and I saw a scrappy athlete who played outside himself and succeeded despite a horrible, horrible team. When I heard he was coming to BYU, I was immediately happy, because I know he's a good athlete.
There's much more to the story, however, and this little move by Nelson has effectively inflamed Internet fan communities all around the state of Utah- from Logan, to Salt Lake City to Provo. Aggie fans, Ute fans and Cougar fans are all up in arms about this transfer. So far Thunderbird fans and Wildcat fans are strangely silent, but I expect them to blow up at any moment.
Why is everyone so upset?
Well, Aggie fans are upset (and rightly so) because their one good player, and the future of their program, has jumped ship for far greener pastures.
BYU fans aren't upset as much as they are on the defensive.
The real story is how Utah fans are reacting to this news. The community of Ute fans that lives deep in the foothills of Salt Lake are outraged because Bronco Mendenhall went back on his word. Their little minds are popping at the impropriety; their beer-stained tank tops are in knots because Bronco Mendenhall did something he swore never to do: recruit a missionary.
"He said he would never do it!" they cry in anguish. "He gave us his word!"
Then they pronounce their accusation from their judgment seat: "Bronco Mendenhall is a hypocrite!"
They say this because Coach Mendenhall operates with this general philosophy: BYU won't actively recruit missionaries. He never, as far as I can tell, put this rule in stone, but he and his coaches abide by it. Nelson's recent decision, a decision he made well into his missionary service, appears to be a violation of this rule, and Ute fans simply will not allow Bronco's actions to proceed without accountability.
The problem with Utes, though, as is so often the case, is they are not so much concerned with what actually happened. They only really care about catching BYU in the act of doing something despicable. All they ever want out of life is to catch BYU in the act so they can say "Ah-HA! You're just like us!"
The Riley Nelson situation, in their eyes, is one of those instances.
What Utah fans don't understand is Bronco never said he wouldn't contact missionaries. A story today in the Salt Lake Tribune summarizes Bronco's position with missionaries and their recruitment (or rather, re-recruitment). Here's an excerpt:
"In fact, when BYU's Austin Collie was supposedly being recruited by other schools while still serving his mission nearly two years ago, Mendenhall acknowledged that the Cougars do sometimes contact recruitable players from other Division I-A programs who are serving missions - but only rarely, and only after "strong recommendations from their parents that they have an interest" in BYU. "
Taken from: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_9400368?source=r ss
This is what happened in the case of Riley Nelson. Both Nelson's parents and high school coaches informed BYU that Riley was interested in a transfer. Once notified, BYU coaches approached Riley, as they dang well should in situations like this, and the rest is history. BYU was well within its rights, ethically and legally.
This will never suit Utah fans, though. The only thing Utes care about is trying to prove BYU is slimy, hypocritical, soul-less and amoral. Or in other words, just like them.
For more on this story check out these articles:
BYU took more than a QB by Brad Rock
BYU coaches quiet about Riley Transfer by Michael C. Lewis
Greg Wrubell's Blog Post