Friday, January 30, 2009

BYU needs a shift in philosophy

Editor's note: This originally appeared as a post on Cougarboard.com, but I liked it so much that I wanted to put it on the blog. My thanks to my brother Andy who has helped me shape this opinion.

I am one of those rare Cougar fans who can admit that Utah has passed BYU in football prominence. They've left us in the dust, in fact, and now we're playing catch up.

As it stands right now, January 30, 2009, Utah is the best football program in the state. We ask ourselves "Why is Utah winning the in-state recruiting war?" "Why is Utah able to pull guys right out of our own backyard?" The answer is simple: They have a better program.

Not only that, but Utah knows how to beat its rival, which helps establish that in-state dominance. They play BYU competitively every year, even when we clearly have the better team. In fact, they play us so competitively that our best teams can only barely beat them, while their best teams clobber us mercilessly.

This has to do with the current philosophy at BYU. The "One game at a time" theory of treating each game on the schedule as the biggest game of the year.

I'm not going to say we haven't been successful with that philosophy because we clearly have. It's gotten us all the way to Vegas... four years in a row.

I am saying, though, that in order to make the jump into greatness we need to put our foot down and establish ourselves as THE premier football program in the state of Utah. This isn't a two-pony show any more; we need to be the only big-time football school in the state and every in-state recruit should jump at the chance of playing at BYU. BYU should make other schools in the state look like IUPUI.

How do we do this? We beat our freaking rival every single year. We not only beat them, we destroy them. We demoralize them. We beat them by 4 TDs. Every year. We put their helmets on our tackling dummies and we circle that game on our calendars. Our coaches drill it in our minds that we do not lose to our dang rival. Ever. That's where it starts.

Say what you will about Urban Meyer, but he understood this concept. He understood the importance--as it pertains to team morale, team unity, recruiting and myriad other components of a successful team--of soundly beating your rival.

I'll tell you another coach who understands this philosophy: Jim Tressel. Right now he has Michigan thinking they will never beat the Buckeyes ever again. Ohio State is the power of the Big Ten and the owner of the "biggest rivalry in the country." Think that has an effect on recruiting? That man knows the importance of rivalries, and the dividends success in those rivalries will pay.

To sum up: Beating Utah should be the focus of every BYU football season.

That way when kids like LT Filiaga commit to the Utes we can smile, shake their hands and say "I guess we'll be beating your yewt up and down the field in November, then."

Great programs don't start with "The Quest to become bowl eligible." They start by beating their rivals every year.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Write it out: The Honor Code

Ah the Honor Code: Keeping boys out of girls' bathrooms since 1875.

The Honor Code is one of BYU's most prized and recognizable characteristics. It separates us from all the mongrel heathen universities that surround us, and it makes sure that BYU students are clean-cut, presentable and 100% drug free. Truly the Honor Code is a great thing.

But sometimes it doesn't work out too well for our beloved athletes. How often have we read in the newspapers "[Insert star athlete's name here] suspended indefinitely for Honor Code violations"?

It's gotten to the point that when I hear about a non-Mormon newcomer to BYU athletics I think "I hope we can get one or two good years out of this guy before he gets canned."

Don't tell me you're not thinking it too.

The athletic communications people dull it down with phrases like "Violation of team rules," but we savvy BYU fans know what's really going on: Someone's been sneaking the O'Douls.

Why do I bring this up now? Well, you've probably heard of Manti Te'o. Furthermore, you've probably heard that he's crossed BYU off his list. What you may not know, though, is there are crazy rumors flying around about certain recruits getting down with certain banned drinks in certain social gatherings. These actions, allegedly, put the kibosh on a certain Hawaiian football player's recruitment.

Now I do not condone such rumors, and I suspect we'll find out the full story soon, but supposedly there are even more suspensions coming.

Imperfect fans like myself are upset. It seems like BYU is always going to find a way to shoot itself in the foot when they're on the verge of making progress.

So I thought I'd take this time to ask you, my readers, a question: How do you feel about the BYU honor code?

It seems like a simple question, but I want you to dig down deep. Share your darkest thoughts. Will BYU ever be able to get athletes to play for us under the HC restrictions? Does the HC help or hurt our athletic program? Is the HC outdated? I want you to express your true feelings. Write it out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guest post: A tough stretch

By Rock Mitchell

As I stormed out of the Marriott Center Wednesday night it was apparent BYU fans were grumbling to each other about the game. But all I could hear was some stupid Rebel fan braying like a jackass: "Yay! Yay! Yaaayyy!"

I wanted to turn around and say something spiteful to the idiot, but instead I trudged forward, realizing there was nothing to say. I was a reprentative of the losing team.

The past couple of years have been glory days for BYU fans. MWC championships, NCAA tournament appearances, bowl wins, rivalry wins, etc...

Alas, I have become completely disillusioned. My fanship used to be something that pushed me forward with a smile on my face. But now, after these past two months, it is more of a burden to carry around--like a sack of rocks.

Now I know what it's like to be a Colorado State fan.

Over the past two months I've had to watch my Cougs

- get blown out by our dirty red-headed step child (Utah) in football
- suffer a 0.01-second loss to ranked Arizona State in basketball
- endure a heartless and uneventful loss to Arizona in the Vegas bowl
- blow an 8-point second half lead to 6th-ranked Wake Forest (snapping a 53-game home win streak)
- get rolled by UNM at The Pit
- blow a 13-point second half lead to UNLV, at home (snapping a 25-game home win streak against MWC opponents)

That's six upsetting losses, all in a two-month stretch between November 22, 2008, and January 21, 2009.

It's been a while since I've had a reason to hold my chin up. I don't know when things are going to turn around. Chances are, crap will continue when BYU loses to UNLV in the MWC basketball tournament, and when the football team gets rolled by Oklahoma in September.

As Thomas Paine so eloquently put it, "these are times that try men's souls." Furthermore, these are the times that separate fair-weather fans from dyed-in-the-wool fans.

As much as I want to sit in a dark corner and sulk, I'm going to keep showing up to the games and suffering losses with the team. They earned as much with the joy they gave me in the good times. I'm dyed-in-the-wool, dawg.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The streak ends... at two

When UNLV beat us at home last night, they not only snapped our not-even-close-to-nation-leading two-game home winning streak, they also gave hope to every team in the Mountain West Conference.

Before last night, every team in the MWC knew that the game in Provo was an automatic loss. They knew it, and they accepted it. The trip to Provo became less about the actual game, and more about the cultural experience for the other team (we do have a lovely Pioneer museum).

UNLV, though, shattered that notion. Suddenly San Diego State, Wyoming and the rest of the pack are liking their chances inside the Marriott Center. And that's no good.

It turns out BYU is not as invincible as we all thought, and I predict every game from here on out is going to be a battle.

I gotta be honest, I am so disappointed in our effort last night. We started the game on fire. We ran well, we defended well, we were hitting shots, Lee Cummard scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes, and then we just died.

It was like that Gatorade commercial about the triathlete whose body stopped functioning right before the finish line. You know what I'm talking about? The guy just breaks apart and collapses right on the road.

That's what BYU looked like in the second half last night--a heap of broken down flesh crumpled up in a ball on the court.

I just want to address a few issues in particular:

One--What has happened to Lee Cummard? Why isn't he playing basketball anymore? Come on, Lee, you're better than this.

Two--Chris freaking Miles. Are you kidding me with this guy? Look, no one understands the burden of the big man more than I, but come on Miles. You are a six foot 11 inch division one basketball player. Guys like you play big, get boards, block shots and make layups. You didn't do any of that last night. I am so sick of our big men it's not even funny.

Three--we scored five points in the first 13 or so minutes of the second half. I just want everyone to see that again.

That's all I want to say. Come on Cougs. Suck it up and start playing tough.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A good story

I know it's hard to believe, but I hold no hard feelings toward Utah State. In fact, I like Utah State a lot, and I always cheer for them (when they're not playing BYU).

It's a shame the feeling isn't mutual...

Anyway, I thought I'd share a great story I found on KSL.com by way of a USU press release.

USU's Wilkinson: A changed man on and off the court

I was impressed with USU's post play when BYU and USU played in December, and I was particularly impressed with Gary Wilkinson. He's the kind of post player I wish BYU had: a tough scorer that plays big, grabs boards and makes free throws.

Wilkinson is also another positive example in my ongoing theory that all red-heads are good at basketball.

Anyway, keep up the good work, Aggies. I hope you guys finish the season with only one loss.

You know... that one loss to BYU.

The Big Three

Mercifully, the dust has settled on the 2008 football season. All eyes now are fixed on the future, and one day specifically: February 4.

On that day, mere weeks away, thousands of impressionable youth around the country will pledge their football futures to colleges and universities everywhere. Most of these recruits have already publicly committed to their favorite schools, so signing their letter of intent on Feb. 4 will be merely a formality.

Others, though, have kept their decisions to themselves, if they've even made their decisions at all.

This group includes BYU's prized recruits of the 2009 class: Xavier Su'a-Filo, L.T. Filiaga and Manti Te'o (pictured below, L to R).



Su'a-Filo, or "X" as he is known in these parts, is one of the country's best offensive linemen. He lives in Provo and attended BYU's best prep school, Timpview. He has offers from LSU, USC and other top programs around the country.

Te'o is a five-star linebacker from Punahou High School in Hawaii. He is considered by most to be the best HS linebacker in the country, and has been seriously courted by USC, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA.

Filiaga is also a linebacker. He is a four-star recruit out of Bingham High here in Utah. He has family ties to both BYU and Utah, and right now it seems to be a head-to-head race between the two.

These three recruits would be a very nice capstone to an already impressive BYU recruiting class. BYU has already secured commitments from some great athletes (like Jray Galea'i, Kyle Van Noy, Craig Bills, Adam Timo, Terry Alleto, etc.), and even if the big three don't end up signing with BYU, I'll still be impressed.

That's why I'm taking a decidedly pessimistic stance concerning our three remaining holdouts. I'm not getting any hopes up for these kids.

I don't think any of them will sign with BYU. I'd like them to--in fact I would do almost anything for it--but I have to be realistic here.

BYU is up against the likes of USC for these recruits. I mean, I personally would choose BYU every single time, but many HS recruits wouldn't.

So that's where I am right now. I'm going to assume we lost all three recruits to bigger programs, and rather than mourn their loss I am going to look forward with great eagerness to the guys who have already committed. And if one of the big three decide that BYU is the right place, it'll make Feb. 4 all the sweeter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why I love fantasy football

Is there anything better than Fantasy Football? I seriously doubt it.

I know Fantasy leagues are a touchy subject--you either love them or you hate them--but I just got a new reason to love them today. So for those of you who aren't on board yet, let me tell you this somewhat hilarious story and maybe I can change your minds.

At the beginning of the season I was approached by several social groups of which I am a part and they all wanted to talk about one thing: Fantasy Football. I gave my support time after time, and I soon found myself in 4 leagues--a friend league, two work leagues and a league made up of guys from the Creed fan club.

What can I say? I get emotional every time I hear "With Arms Wide Open."

Anyway, I drafted all my players, set my roster and eagerly awaited the season opener.

Then I got one more phone call.

It was another co-worker. "Hey Adam, you want to join our fantasy football league?"

I'm a people pleaser, guys, so I said yes even though I knew I was already stretching myself a little thin.

A few days later I was notified of my new league's draft, and I drug my feet through the whole process. I was the constant subject of reminder emails, phone calls and texts: "Dude- it's your turn in the draft. Hurry up."

I finally became so un-reachable that the commissioner of my newest league ended up making the rest of my picks for me. I didn't mind--I already had David Garrard.

The season started and I was quickly reduced to only being interested in one league: the one I had started with my outside-of-work friends. I paid close attention to free agents, waivers and trades, and I put together a respectable season. I think I ended up third or fourth.

Meanwhile I kept deleting all the league standings and update emails from every other league. I didn't really care.

It wasn't until after the season ended that I had an interesting conversation with one of my co-workers, the one that invited me to play in that fifth league.

"You know you won our league, right?" he said.

"Our what?"

"The fantasy football league. You won the championship. You beat me in the championship game. I was the No. 1 seed, I had won 10 straight and you came in and beat me."

"Serious?"

"Yeah. Congratulations you (expletive deleted)."

You like apples? Well how do you like them apples? I can finally call myself a fantasy football champion, and I literally never made one move during the entire season in that league. I never used the bench, I didn't add or drop any players. My rag-tag bunch of fatasizers came out every week, played their heart out and brought me home a championship.

Well done men.

And to add sweet prize to sweet victory, today I got an email from EA Sports (in which our league was hosted), congratulating me for my league victory. It also contained a promo code for $25 off the EA Store.

Boo-ya.

Not sure yet what I'll buy. Maybe I'll pick up Madden Football and start training for Madden Nation.

One thing I do know, though: I'm a fantasy football lifer.

**UPDATE**
I have been advised to clarify one item: I am not now, nor will I ever be in a Creed fan club. That is all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Austin, we barely knew thee

If there's one thing this blog isn't, it's timely. I don't report the news as it happens, but rather when I've had a day or two to think about it.

So here's what I'm thinking about Austin Collie's decision to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft:

"Man, I'm going to miss that sucker."

Collie has been my very favorite BYU player for the past two years. Unfortunately I didn't get to see him play in 2004, but 2007 and 2008 have been a delight. I remember catching my first glimpse of the Collinator during an open practice prior to the 2007 season. I was instantly impressed; Collie had the indescribable look of an athlete. He stood out.

And he proved he was a special player on the field.

Collie has broken every meaningful receiving record at BYU in his three seasons. Yards, touchdowns, receptions, you name it--they all have one name at the top of the list: Austin Collie.

He ran away from everyone who tried to defend him. He made some of the best corners in the nation look like they were running in black strap molasses.

It is my contention that Austin Collie is the best athlete to don BYU blue. In my eyes Collie was better than Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Curtis Brown, Jonny Harline--the whole list of legends. Even Paul Shoemaker. If I was calling the shots I would have put the ball in Collie's hands on every play, offense and defense.

I'm sad I won't get to see Austin play at BYU anymore. I was kind of hoping he, Max Hall and Dennis Pitta would make an Ohio-State-esque pact to stick around for their senior years together. You know, to make one final run at the BCS together.

It would have been nice. But alas, 'twill not come to pass.

And quite frankly, I don't think AC is making the best decision here. This is a deep class for receivers in the NFL draft (only deeper with the recent announcement by Jeremy Maclin that he will enter the draft, and the inevitable announcement of Michael Crabtree to do the same). Where does Austin fit in that mix?

I predict the earliest Collie could possibly be drafted is the fifth round. I know I've just been singing his praises, but he is not helped by his lack of exposure and the fact that this is a huge WR class, as I mentioned before.

But then again he could really shine at the combine and improve his stock significantly. I just don't know if I would have made the same decision.

The good news for Austin is he's the kind of player that will see the field eventually. He'll be a steal for whichever team that drafts him, and he'll be a solid receiver and a good example of a BYU athlete in the pros.

I'm sad, but don't let my sour grapes be confused for bitterness. I love the A-man and I hope he becomes the NFL equivalent of the stellar receiver we knew in college.

All the best, Austin. It's been a pleasure.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Why didn't anybody tell me?!

I found out something a little interesting today. Apparently my favorite sports blog made the local radio.

Yes, it's true. ASB, where people from all around the world gather after googling "groin injuries," and "softball chatter," got a little bit of play on Utah's fourth most popular sports radio network: KFAN 1320.

David Locke picked up my post Painful Admissions on Monday, Jan. 5, and read it over the air. Granted, it was probably during the dregs of his show (unfortunately I didn't get to hear it live), but I'll take the pub where I can get it.

It's probably not the post I would have picked to be read over the air, but as I was listening to the podcast today I decided that I still stand by everything I wrote.

So David, thanks for reading. If you want to do a guest post sometime soon, let me know. Also, if you want to bring me on your show I'd be more than willing (Yes, I do have experience--still waiting for the invitation to get back on the air, DD).

Check out David Locke's podcast here. ASB is mentioned near the end.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A big weekend for BYU

I bet you didn’t even know it, but this weekend is huge for BYU football.

This weekend BYU recruits from around the country will be on campus for their official visit.

And how huge is it? Let me put it this way: Whether or not BYU becomes relevant again on the college football stage depends on the success of this weekend. If this weekend is a failure then you’re looking at BYU baseball’s new No. 1 fan.

(I’m referring to myself, by the way. I know you’re not actually looking at me—just go with me here.)

Who will be in attendance, you ask? None other than great BYU recruits like Kyle “The Reno Rambo” Van Noy, L.T. “Li’l Tiger” Filiaga, Xavier “The Polynesian Matt Reynolds” Sua’Filo, and Manti “Adam will cut out his left eye and give it to a blind orphan boy if you commit to BYU” Te’o.

(It was first speculated that Te’o would not be making the trip, but his father confirmed that Manti will in fact be in Provo. Reported by Jay Drew here.)

BYU will also welcome in some recruits that have already commited—like Jray “Just try saying my name” Galea’I, Craig “Hunna dolla” Bills and Terry “Maybe I should have gone to Oklahoma” Alleto.

I for one am excited for this weekend. I’ve already been reborn as a BYU fan, and now that recruiting season is upon us I feel like a giddy schoolboy.

These weekends are always good for BYU, too. Last year, if you’ll remember, we got three major commitments after the official recruiting weekend: O’Neill Chambers, Solomone Kafu and Uona Kaveinga (who later defected to USC… Manti, please don’t follow in this young man’s footsteps).

So bring out your rosary beads, fashion your voodoo dolls and send prayer emails to Bill Keller; we need to lock these kids down.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Site Spotlight: In Your Ears


Hello friends. Indulge me for a moment while I promote my newest creation: In Your Ears.

IYE is a new blog dedicated to my love of music. It will feature reviews, profiles, recommendations, thoughts from the music world, some news perhaps and other music-related material. The blog will feature music from all genres.

It's also a place where I'll be soliciting suggestions readers and I'm also accepting contributed content. So if you'd like to be a part of IYE, let me know--It's not going to be a one man show by any means.

I hope you enjoy. It's still in its infant stages, but check it out, link to it and add it to your reader if you feel so inclined.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

BYU's 2009 Non-Conference Schedule

Funny how you can just jump right back into something, isn't it?

Hot off the presses, BYU officially announced its four-game non-conference schedule for next year's football season earlier today. Read the official release here.

It looks like this:

*BYU @ Oklahoma (in Dallas): Sep. 5
*BYU @ Tulane: Sep. 12
BYU vs. Florida State: Sep. 19
BYU vs. Utah State: Oct. 2

*Games will be broadcast on ESPN networks.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a pretty solid lineup. Two huge nationally televised games (one being against the potential defending national champion Sooners), one perennial power from the ACC and one powderpuff to give our guys a little break.

BYU has such a hold on me. I was reading that press release (linked above), and I found myself getting just as amped as I always do about BYU football.

Yes, despite the negative mess in the post below, I am and always will be an undying BYU fan. They keep hurting me, but I keep coming back for more. Talk about an abusive relationship.

Go forth, BYU, and slay these foes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Painful admissions

Are you ready for five devastating truth bombs? Get in your shelter and pack some canned beans because here they come:

1. Not only did Utah have a far superior football team in 2008, but Utah has been a MUCH better football program than BYU since 2002.

2. Kyle Whittingham and his staff are better coaches than Bronco Mendenhall and his staff.

3. There's no way BYU would have beaten Alabama like Utah did. Not this year, not ever. We don't play like champions, and Utah does.

4. Even if Bronco and the boys get lucky and make it to a BCS game, they'll never win it. But I'm sure they'd kill at the fireside the night before.

5. BYU is no longer the best non-BCS program in the nation. That crown belongs to Utah now, and BYU is now the little brother.

Sorry guys, but somebody had to say it.

I still love you, BYU. I love that we can still beat Wyoming and New Mexico consistently, and I love that our mustaches are still neatly trimmed and do not stretch beyond the corners of our mouths. But it's time to finally admit it: we are not a BCS program. We belong in the MWC, and Utah and TCU are running away from us.

Suddenly the BYU/Utah State rivalry is getting a lot more interesting...