Saturday, October 25, 2008

A few thoughts-

-When the day started, I had no intentions of going to the football game.  My Dad's tickets were being used by one of my older brothers, and since I had been to every game so far I didn't put up too much of a fuss that not a single one was left for me.

Amanda and I had decided earlier in the week that since we weren't going to the game we would at least put on the game day gear and drive up to Wingers to catch the 1280's pre-game show.  Eating wings and watching some of the game there win Hans Olsen and Kevin Graham sounded better than staying at home and watching it on our little TV.

We apparently were the only ones who either didn't have tickets or even likes Hans Olsen because when we arrived the place was empty.  We couldn't have timed it any better because as we pulled into the parking lot they offered two tickets to the next fans to walk through the door and ask for them.  Those fans happened to be us.

Even though we had plans to chow on wings, now that we had tickets in hand and a 3 year old boy who really wanted to go, my amazing wife gladly dropped Kade and I off at the stadium and sent us on our way.  I'm lucky to have a wife who not only shares my love of BYU football but who can also appreciate my love of sharing it with my boy.  

The tickets weren't all that great, my boy seemed to pick the most inopportune moments to need to go to the bathroom (when Kade says he has to go you don't wait) and I realized when it was time to pay for our Team Awesome hot dog that I had left my debit card at Wingers.  Despite all that, we still had a great time.

I think most Dads could understand the enjoyment that comes from walking into the stadium with your teams colors on and listening to the excitement in your young boys voice as he takes it all in.  

I love being a Dad.

-Not much I want to say about the game other than I am glad the Cougs got the win. I was hoping they would come out with a little more fire and intensity, get an early lead and have the rebels put away going into the last quarter.

I was disappointed that they couldn't put UNLV away and that they kept trading touchdowns with them.  The offense played well but the defense seemed to struggle.  I was glad to see that when they needed a big stop at the end of the game the defense was able to pull through and keep them out of the endzone.  I would have been more happy though had they not even let it stay that close.

It wasn't pretty but at least it was a win.

-How bad does it suck that if no team from the MWC runs the table, the best bowl game that the conference can get is the Las Vegas Bowl against the fifth place team of a conference that was absolutely dominated by Mountain West teams?

Come on Craig Thompson, earn your money!  Is that the best we can do?  

Congratulations, if you don't go to Vegas then you get to play in the Poinsettia Bowl against Navy.  If that doesn't excite you, how about the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth?  Did I mention Albuquerque?  What about Boise in December?

The Bowl tie in's for the MWC absolutely blow.  I know the Utes and TCU both have a chance to still bust into the BCS, but looking at their schedules I think both teams will drop at least one between now and the end of the year.  At that point the conference will be left playing in the same lousy bowls against equally lousy opponents.

Looking on the bright side, at least nobody has to go to Memphis.  

-Four days to go until the Jazz start their regular season.  I don't multi task all that well so I spend most of my time watching the Cougars and at the end of the football season change my focus to the Jazz.  I have been keeping an eye on D-Will though and his health status.  The Jazz are fortunate that he only sprained his ankle.  Deron has said that when he initially rolled it he thought that he had sustained a season ending injury.  When it happened he heard a pop.

I think the Jazz will be alright in his absence with Price and Knight running the point.  They're obviously not nearly as good but I think they will get the job done.  It goes without saying though that all Jazz fans alike anxiously await the return of our franchise player.

-Any of you guys watching the "World Serious"? (Kade-ism)  I don't really care for either team but have enjoyed watching it anyways.  I am hoping that it goes 7 games.  I love October baseball.  In fact, I can't think of a better month for sports.  You know on any given Saturday in October that you will always have something good to watch on the TV.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quest for Redemption!

Within minutes of the start of the BYU/TCU game I knew that the Cougars were in for a very long night. The last time I felt that way watching a game was last season when BYU came out and lost the momentum early on against Tulsa. It was frustrating to say the least to watch as BYU fell further and further behind in that game with absolutely no answer to stop TCU. BYU came out flat and TCU was playing out of their heads.

What was learned from that night? It depends on who you ask.

Is TCU the powerhouse that they appeared to be? And conversely, is BYU nothing more than just an average team that was exposed for who they really are.

TCU is obviously capable of playing well. They showed that against the Y. I think they are a solid team but I think Thursday night was more the exception than the norm. Their defense is outstanding but their offense has been suspect at times. I think they will finish the season with a good record but I don't think they will get through conference play undefeated. I think when they travel to RES that they will be in for a battle that will give them a loss in league play.

After the loss, everybody placed blame for the loss on the fact that TCU has better athletes than they Y. That's definitly the case, but come on, who doesn't? UCLA had better athletes. Washington had better athletes. Almost every team BYU goes against the argument could be made that they have better athletes.

BYU has proven that over the years they can compete and beat teams with better athletes than themselves. I do believe TCU's atheleticism contributed in part to the loss, but I think the main factor that caused the complete lapse in play was lack of preparation.

By not practicing on Sunday and having to travel on Wednesday to play Thursday, it essentially left BYU two days to prepare for the game. Contrast that with the fact that coach Patterson said that his team had be preparing for BYU since January. When looking ahead to the season, the game against BYU was more important to them than playing well against #1 Oklahoma. Their tackling dummies had BYU stickers on them. This was their big game.

BYU had a big Bullseye on their back and the Frogs hit the center of the target. I'm not trying to make excuses for the Cougars. It was Bronco's responsibility to make sure his team was ready and he admittedly said that he let them down by not getting them prepared to play.

So back to the question. Was this game an indication of what type of team BYU really is? Are they really that bad? I don't think so. They obviously can play down to that level if they come in unprepared, but we have seen also what they can do when things come together. I believe we saw a good team have an off night. It happens.

To all you BYU fans who have given up on this season, don't. The BCS hype is over, sure. But there is still a lot to play for including a possible share in the conference championsip, a win over the rival Utes, a bowl bid, and most importantly they can set themselves up for next year. If they can run the table the rest of the season they will be going into next year in a position even better than the one they started this year with. Not only will they have the whole offense coming back, but they will have the majority of their defense returning as well.

Is that enough to motivate the Cougars as well as their fans. For me it is. I expect the Y to come out with a chip on their shoulders and finish the season strong. I think at the end of the year we'll look back on a one loss season which will be an improvement over last year's record, a top 20 ranking for the third consecutive time in as many years, and an optimistic outlook towards next season for what possiblilities lay in store for this team.

Will it happen? We'll see. Either way I'll be their to cheer on the mighty Cougs in their Quest for Redemption.

Their Quest begins Saturday. Bring on the Rebels.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where Champions are made!

What does Harvey Unga and a set of flags have in common?  More than you might think.

A story broke today that came as no surprise to a lot of us here in Payson.  Obviously though, from the story, it was apparent that Bronco wasn't privy to the same information that we all had.

Harvey was unable to travel with the team to Fort Worth because there was a question of whether or not he was in compliance with NCAA regulations.  The item in doubt was whether or not he violated any rules by playing city league flag football.

For the last season and a half Harvey has not only been breaking tackles, catching passes and scoring touchdowns at LES, but has been doing the same exact things twice a week at the old Hillman Fields here in Payson.

You might wonder why an athlete, who plays on the biggest stage here in the state and has so much talent, would waste his time and risk it all on a flag football field.  I'll tell you why.  Because we're that good.

That's right.  He comes down here for the competition.  You can only become the best by playing against the best.  To those who might not understand the level of play that takes place here under the lights in Payson, you might read this story and automatically assume that he is a ringer.  You might come to the conclusion that he was brought down to guarantee his team a championship.  Well, I have two hoodies that say champion on the front that would argue otherwise.  

Sure he's a great flag football player, but he is no Payson City champion.  If an easy championship is what he wants he might as well stick to the MWC because nobody is going to hand it to him here just because he has graced us with his presence.  

You think the Utes or TCU have a tough D?  You think their intimidating?  Wait till you look across the line and go eye to eye with Jed McClellen, 2007 Defensive MVP.  Sure he's only 5'2", but don't let size fool you. Good luck trying to put a block on Hub when he comes in on a full out blitz.  Or try getting open for a pass with either Yama or Hooper covering you.  It won't happen. 

BYU hoodies are nice but real champions wear Skull and Crossbones.  I mean, come on, nothing defines football greatness like a pirate symbol embroidered across the front of a hoodie.  I got one in black and gray.  

I'm guessing Harvey's flag football days have come to an end.  He was able to catch up to the Cougars on a later commercial flight once they got word that no rules were violated, but I am sure Bronco isn't too happy about having his star running back risking injury with the likes of us.

That's alright.  He'll be just fine.  Even though there was so much more that he could develop skill wise in our league, he'll still go on and do great things.  In a way it's gratifying to know that we helped him get to where he is at today.

War the Fighting Cocks, back to back city league champions, for accomplishing something in football that Unga couldn't. 

Champions are made on the Hillman Fields, not ..... well, something like that anyways.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What to do, what to do

I go back and forth with cheering for the Utes. On one hand, they are the key to the promised land of BCS bowl births. On the other hand, they have ripped the hearts out of their fans over the past couple of years, and I don't know if I can let the Utah Yucks do that to me. When they trip over some crappy conference foe, I don't want to admit that they had me going. I think I am better off shutting my eyes when they play and just looking at the score and telling myself that it doesn't matter either way.

So what I have decided is this: Logically, I know that no matter what I scream at the TV or who I cheer for, it will have no bearing with the football gods, and the chips will fall where they may. So I think I have to stay true to myself and continue to hate the Yucks with a passion and hope that they fall hard every week and are pathetic at every turn. Then I shield myself from letting them have power over me and I don't have to worry that they can dissapoint me when they choke. Let BYU control their destiny and if by chance the Yucks are undefeated at the end of the season when the showdown happens, I will still be filled with that awesome hate that isn't watered down from the confusion of cheering them on during the season.

So here's to BYU's little brother - The Utah Yucks - enjoy the ride, but just know that no matter what happens, you will be the stepping stone to cap off a great season for the Boys in Blue. Go Cougars!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Making a deal with the Devil!

I have made a decision in my life that very well could affect my personal salvation and that of my entire family.  It is a decision that never in a million years did I ever think that I would make.  It's a decision that goes against one of my innermost core beliefs.  Though it is racking my entire body with feelings of guilt and shame, because of circumstances out of my control I feel like I have no other choice.

As a kid growing up it was always black and white.(blue and white would be better said)  There was no middle ground.  We were and continue to be Cougar fans.  

Along with my love for the Cougars came a disliking for the team in red.  The Utes were the enemy.  On any given weekend in the fall I would cheer for the Cougars and any team that played the Utes.  That's just how it was. 

In 1998, when the Utes played for the NCAA basketball championship, I cheered for Kentucky.  In 2004, though it was a long shot, I hoped that Pitt could put a complete game together and knock off Urban and his crew.  It didn't matter how much exposure the conference would get, if it was the Utes doing the playing I wanted them to lose.

At times my feelings were rewarded.  In 2001, I laughed as Lance Rice mismanaged the clock and the Utes ran out of time on the 4 yard line down only by one point.  In 2005, I was amused when the Utes failed 3 times to punch it in the endzone from the 1 inch line and lost to CSU.  When Frank "the tank" Summers ran roughshod over the Utes defense and shut the men in red out 27-0, I was giddy.  

What do I do now though?  

BYU is now in the discussions of not only breaking into the BCS, but they are also being mentioned by the national media as possibly landing in the championship game.  

A lot of things would have to occur for that to even be a possibility, but the talk is being generated none the less.  Is it possible?  I guess.  Likely?  No.  But it's still fun to speculate. 

The biggest source of criticism against the Cougars is their strength of schedule.  It's no secret that they haven't played nor will play anybody good until possibly the last game of the season.  This unfortunately is where the Y will have to rely on the Utes.  

If things were to turn out in college football the same way they did last year with all the BCS conference champions having 2 or more losses, a 2 loss team could still leap frog BYU in the BCS polls based on their SOS.  That is unless they can play a top ten opponent and beat them on their own field.

The perfect storm is building.  If BYU and Utah were to match up at the end of the year both undefeated, you can bet both would be ranked in the top ten.  It would be the battle of the century.  The stakes would be huge.  The teams would not only be playing for bragging rights but also for a conference championship, BCS bowl birth and, though it would be a long shot, they could possibly be playing for an appearance in the BCS championship game.  Both teams need to be ranked though to be even considered for the big daddy of the bowls. 

My dilemma is, can I really bring myself to cheer for the Utes and hope that they win every game so as to remain undefeated?  

I am sickened to admit that with the circumstances being what they are, tomorrow night when the Utes and OSU kickoff, for the first time in my life I will sit in front of my TV and will say, "a Utah man am I."  I will watch the Utes and will fight off the feelings to root against them, feelings that come to me just as naturally as breathing.  I will be cheering that the team in that awful color of red can pull off the win and continue to move up in the polls.

There is a lot of risk with hoping for an undefeated Ute season.  If Utah were to win that final game they would steal everything right out from under the Cougars and they would be the ones to enjoy the BCS party.  It would open us up to smack talk like none that Cougar fans have ever experienced.  I'm willing to risk it though.  With great risk, comes even greater reward.

The stars are aligning.  There is still along ways to go and a lot of football to be played.  BYU has to remain undefeated and that will not be an easy task.  In the end though, if they can pull it off, this year has the potential to be the best in BYU history.  The reward could be great.

For that I reason I have made the decision that I have.  I have turned a blind eye on all that I was taught as a kid with regards to this rivalry. 

May God have mercy on my soul!