Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say hello to the Cougars for me

Right now I'm in an aeroplane, winging my way to Sunny Southern California. That's right, through the miracle of technology I've actually scheduled this post to publish while I'm in the air.

What a world.

Anyway, the point is I won't be at the game tonight. Or Saturday. Thus destroying any sort of fun I could even think to have while I'm away.

The two biggest games of the year, and I won't be there. This situation is making me angry. I feel like letting my grandpa gouge my eyes out with his giant steel-workers' thumb.

The only consolation will be two wins, and that's where you come in. I'll need you guys to get to the Marriott Center, and make sure to bring all your crazy. You'll need to make up for my absence, and I get plenty crazy.

If you have the means, I implore you to attend both games this week. You need to will the Cougars to victory this week. I'm counting on you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seeds of hope

One question I've been getting a lot lately: Where will BYU end up in the Big Dance? What seed will we be when we go to the NCAA Tournament?

My reply has been, is, and will be the same: Depends.

BYU is the kind of team that doesn't have a lot of wiggle room. Our basketball team is kind of like our football team in that regard: We can ride national hype, win games and climb high in the polls (like right now, for instance), but the minute we stumble we'll fall pretty far.

So right now we could reach a three seed, or even a two. But a loss or two on the way to Selection Sunday could mean up to a seven-spot drop.

So here are three possible seed-situations for BYU.

1. BYU wins out, gets a three (two?) seed. If we win the rest of our regular season games and then take the MWC Tournament, watch out. We'll have the best seed BYU has ever been given in the NCAA Tournament, setting up a possible Sweet 16 run.

2. BYU wins regular season, loses in the MWC Tournament. This is the most likely situation, I think, and I think it'll give BYU a 5 seed. We'll ride the good will of the regular season into a higher seed, and most likely a first-round win (that's all I want!)

3. BYU stumbles, doesn't loses a game in the regular season and loses in the MWC Tournament. This would put us in the dreaded 8, 9, 10 seed range. Or worse. If this happens we'll likely lose in the first round of the NCAA's again. Fortunately, I don't think this will happen.

Whatever the case, our post-season success is all about matchups, and I hope we can finally get a favorable one after years of tournament torture.

So in summary, I'll be hoping for situation No. 1, but I expect something like No. 2. We'll win out, and then probably lose in the Tournament Championship game. This will give us a higher seed, and it'll set us up nicely for our first NCAA Tournament win in over 15 years.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Atta boy Evan!

Man, I take back everything I said in my last post about figure skating. Last night's competition was intense, and I was hanging on the edge of my seat like every other patriotic American, pulling for Evan Lysacek.

And wouldn't you know it, he won.

With a winning combination of dainty footwork and sparkly makeup, Lysacek defeated the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist Vevgeny Plushenko. It was awesome. I was instantly fired up by Evan's strong performance, and I wanted to punch something to show my excitement. You know, do something to re-introduce a little masculinity into my night.

There is nothing masculine about figure skating. Nothing. And Johnny Weir isn't helping things one bit.

Anyway, Lysacek's performance was rockin', and it only got sweeter when Plushenko's scores came in. Seeing that arrogant Russian's face twist and fall into a sick contortion of disappointment was delightful.

And his sore-loserly reaction today? Priceless. His sour grapes only makes Evan Lysacek's victory that much better.

Look, I don't know why I get so America-crazy during the Olympics, but that's the reality. Seeing a rosy-cheeked American boy beat the cold, Russian robot brings a certain cheer to my heart. I want to chase that feeling.

So congratulations to Evan Lysacek, and here's hoping the United States continues its incredible run of Olympic hardware in 2010.

To see a great interview with Evan Lysaceck, click here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Olympic-sized post

NBC's horrible coverage aside, I'm really enjoying the Winter Olympics. At first I was a little disappointed, wishing I was watching the Summer Games instead, but darn it if those crazy Scandinavian athletes didn't win me over.

My favorite event so far? Gotta be the moguls. Seeing those knees bounce up and down so violently sends a twinge of pain down my spine, but there's something cool about combining speed with tricks with big mounds of snow.

My favorite athletes are everyone's favorites: Shawn White, Lindsay Vonn, Shani Jones, Apolo Ohno and Emil Hegle Svendson, the renegade Norwegian Biathlete. I know it's not very original, but what can I say? I guess NBC has done a good job marketing these athletes.

One thing I just haven't been able to get into, though, is figure skating. I'm giving it the old college try, but my experience hasn't been too positive so far. I always end up fantasizing about spectacular crashes and supple Russian bodies colliding with the wall. It's the only thing that keeps me going. But I will admit: I'd like to see Evan Lysacek take home the gold.

But Scott Hamilton, relax a little. Every time someone slips up he acts like the Pope is having a seizure.

A few more thoughts:

*I watch the Olympics for one reason and one reason only: Complete US domination. If the mighty Americans won't absolutely destroy the competition, I don't want to watch it. How's that for nationalism?

*How heartbreaking is the Lindsey Jacobellis story? After her embarrassing fall in Torino, she failed to qualify for the snowboard cross finals when she hit a course gate. Poor girl. I hope she can come back in four years.

*Am I the only one that can't stand the South Korean short track team? Apollo Ohno needs to lay a whoopin' on their kimchi-loving backsides.

Keep it up, Olympics. You totally have my attention for the next two weeks, and your oft-overlooked sports are finally going to get some face time with the general public. Don't screw the pooch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Expansion and the BCS

I don't know how it happened, exactly, but conference expansion talk has stormed the headlines of every newspaper and message board in the Mountain West.

Specifically, people are buzzing about Pac-10 expansion. I guess the Pac-10 commissioner said something when the tape was rolling, and we have-nots have been squirling about it ever since.

Seems the Pac-10 is finally going to add two more teams to make it a legitimate 12-team conference, complete with a championship game (in football) and two different divisions. The additions? According to the rumor mill, it's Utah and Colorado.

Timeout! I call BS.

Talk like this always amuses me because it happens EVERY YEAR. There's always some obscure comment from some official that sends us fans into a frenzy, and soon our heads get higher than the clouds and BYU is playing USC for the conference championship.

Hold on there, hoss. Slow down a minute and ask yourself these questions: How often does college football as an institution embrace/initiate sweeping changes to its time-honored traditions? How eager would the Pac-10 be to share revenue with two additional teams? And finally, why on earth would they add a market like Salt Lake City?

Clinging to the fibers of an afterthought comment about conference expansion is pathetic. I'm not going to close the door completely, but I am willing to put money down that says the Pac-10 won't expand anytime in the near future.

I know BYU and Utah fans want to be a part of the BCS, but expansion isn't the way it's gonna happen. The surest way of horning in on the BCS racket is by beating out the Big East and other BCS conferences when the system is re-evaluated in 2012.

Regardless, the safe bet is this: Don't cancel that road trip to Laramie anytime soon, because BYU and Utah are going to be in the MWC for a long, long time.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Manase Tonga and the NFL Combine

Some BYU players from the 2009 football team have been invited to the 2010 NFL combine, including Max Hall, Dennis Pitta and Manase Tonga.

A friend of mine is working with "The Manase," as he trains, and he sent me some information about the Tonga training regimen.

Manase is projected to be the fourth fullback taken in the 2010 NFL draft, but his stock could improve significantly with a good workout at the combine. Getting hooked up with the right trainer is crucial, and Manase is working with ASAP Training in Provo.

"Being invited to the NFL Combine means a great deal to me," Said Tonga. "I know that there are no guarantees of getting drafted by going to the combine, but it is good to know that I will get a shot to prove myself."

Manase Tonga finished his senior year at BYU with 40 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Tonga’s best game of 2009 came against Oregon State, in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas, NV, where he rushed for 42 yards, including a 19 yard touchdown run and 15 yard touchdown reception.

ASAP Training helped Tonga return to the football team in 2009 after not playing in 2008. Tonga was integral to our success last year, and I hope he blows it up at the combine and has a great career in the NFL.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Unwelcome guests

On a whim I decided to go down to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with my wife and some friends to see BYU play UNLV yesterday.

Worst. Decision. Ever.

Don't get me wrong, the drive was fun and the company was great. But the purpose of the trip, namely the game itself, was a giant kick in the soft stuff.

The atmosphere was intense. From the opening introductions, which included fireworks and thunderous applause, to the crowd's continuous chants of "You Suck," BYU was caught on its heels. We never matched the emotional intensity of the Rebels, and it showed after three minutes, when UNLV already had a 40 point lead (slight exaggeration).

The game really was lost in the first ten minutes. We started so slow, and the Rebels seemingly hit every single shot they put up. Every time they shot a three I'd think to myself "They can't possibly hit another one." Then they did.

It was rough.

And now I have mixed feelings. First, it looks like we're not as good as we all thought we were. If we really were a top-15 team, we should be able to beat UNLV, even on their own court.

Second, I'm not so sure a lot has changed from the past three years. It looks like once again we're going to battle for a good seed in the NCAA tournament, and we're probably going to struggle in the post-season.

It's at this moment that I almost have a meltdown, but then I take a deep breath and realize it's hard to win conference games on the road. BYU and UNLV know each other so well, and BYU get's every MWC team's best shot. In other words, you can't win 'em all.

The T&M was a great place, though, and the fans weren't too bad. I got a few jeers as I was walking out, but overall everyone was downright civil. And that's saying a lot for the conference's most heated (basketball) rivalry.

So to sum up, BYU isn't a top-12 team, but we're still pretty dang good. And we still control our own destiny in the MWC. Win all our games, win a conference championship.

And we'll see UNLV again in the tournament, perhaps a little wiser.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The class of 2010

Welp, signing day is over. It's the day I look forward to the most in these dark, football-less months, and it disappeared faster than a Kahuku HS verbal commitment.

I was able to take part in some of the festivities, though. I was in the audience when Bronco Mendenhall and Paul Tidwell announced BYU's 2010 recruiting class to the Cougar Club. The lunch was so-so, but the anticipation of another football season was surging.

You can read all about BYU's 27 recruits here, so I'm not going to take the time to comment on every one of them.

Rather, I'm going to pick out a handful of my favorites and explain just why BYU has the best class ever. And I'll leave Jake Heaps, Ross Apo and Josh Quezada off the list, because I think these guys have been discussed ad nauseum (but I'm still exquisitely happy they'll be in Cougar blue in the fall).

Alani Fua. I actually got to see this kid play on ESPNU when his HS played Jake Heaps and Skyline HS. He was the star of the show, in my eyes. He was a beast on defense and caught some great balls on offense.
Collin Keoshian. This guy plays in a smaller, 8-man California league, but he still looks like a man among boys. He looks big, athletic and he can hit. I'm excited to see him play some linebacker for the Cougs.
Drew Phillips. BYU usually doesn't get recruits like Phillips. He's a speed back with a 4.39 forty, and there's talk that he'll play both RB and slot receiver. Anywhere he plays, I hope we can take advantage of his speed.
Tayo Fabuluje. This guy just flat out looks like a beast. I'm already having visions of him just blowing up pesky little Air Force offensive linemen. I REALLY hope he plays on the defensive line.
Kyle Van Noy. Originially a part of the 2009 class, Van Noy will finally join the BYU Cougars this Spring. Van Noy will have an instant impact on the BYU defense. He's fast and he can hit. I can't adequately express how happy I am he's back.

This really is an amazing class, and every one of our signees is a special athlete. These are just a few of the future Cougars I'm particularly excited about.

What about you? Which 2010 recruits turn your crank?