Friday, October 30, 2009

A Mid-Season Crisis

At about nine o’clock on Sunday morning when the sting of the TCU loss was finally wearing off, I imagine that you suddenly realized that you now face one of the worst crises that a die-hard sports fan such as yourself can face. It’s the same crisis that Pittsburg Pirates fans (if there are any more) encounter every year a third of the way into the baseball season: what do you do when the team you cheer for no longer has anything significant to play for. (Hint: If you are the Pittsburg Pirates, you simply trade all of your players away start rebuilding for next year.)

I don’t think many people will argue that BYU currently doesn’t have a whole lot to play for. Our best option is to play a crappy Pac-10 football team in the Las Vegas Bowl. For that to occur, there either needs to be a three-way tie in the MWC or TCU needs to go to a BCS game. Even then, there is no guarantee that the Las Vegas Bowl would actually pick BYU. Needless to say, things don't look up. As such, it seems kind of pointless to put the same amount of energy into following BYU football that we did at the beginning of the season. (For example: spending 4 hours every Saturday watching the game as your daughter begs you for your attention, searching for any and every article you can find on the internet about BYU, watch Sportscenter hour after hour into the early hours of the morning just to hear Lou Holtz say one more time that BYU has a legitimate chance at playing in the national championship, spending hours trying to find a pirated stream of the game online because you don’t have versus or the mtn.).

Now that BYU is pretty much out of the picture, what are you going to do with all of that time that you would have spent following BYU pursue a national championship or BCS berth? After all, it is not as if you can fill that time with any old thing; that's sacred time. If you find yourself in this predicament, I have a few suggestions.

1. Cheer for Iowa and Cincinnati!

I’m being serious. I will admit that I am no fan of the Big Ten or the Big East. I think that they are both incredibly overrated conferences and normally I take great joy in watching them struggle. However, Iowa and Cincinnati’s recent success has changed my attitude somewhat, at least for the remainder of this year. Although both schools are in “BCS conferences”, they really have not gotten a whole lot of respect this year. As a result, it is entirely possible that even if they both run the table neither will not get a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. I can think of nothing better than for this to happen. For the last several years we have had undefeated teams from “mid-major” conferences such as the WAC and Mountain West get snubbed by the BCS title game. It looks like it will happen again this year. Although this has made a lot of people upset and question the BCS format, most of the noise has come from other mid-major schools. Imagine, however, what would happen if a team from the Big Ten or Big East, the BCS’s very own, were snubbed despite going undefeated—particularly if they were passed by a 1 loss team from the Pac-10, SEC, or Big 12. It would be complete chaos. Then, instead of simply mid-majors crying for change, we might see some help from some of the conferences that have a little more power. This is precisely the type of chaos we need to push for change.

2. Pull out your horned-frog purple!

We all know that BYU still has a shot at winning the conference, which we previously suggested should always be BYU’s primary goal. If BYU beats Utah and Utah beats TCU, then we have three-way tie for the conference championship. But before you get your hopes up, I think BYU fans should consider whether this is in fact what we want. It was one thing to hope that Utah lost to TCU last year in order to create a three way tie. That was more about our hatred for Utah than wanting a conference championship. This year it may very well be the case that TCU winning out and getting to BCS game would be much better for BYU and the conference in the long run than a three way tie. I personally don’t have the same hatred toward TCU that I feel toward Utah and so I am much more open to considering this than I was last year. At the very minimum, it is something to use your free time to think about.

3. Follow NASCAR or soccer

Okay, that one is a joke. Not worth your time!

These are only a few suggestions, and I would love to hear what some of the things you are going to do with the time you would have dedicated to faithfully following BYU football if they still had something to pay for.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's your Reason?

With nearly 2/3 of the BYU football season completed, there have been a lot of things to be happy about, and a few disappointments.

Let's start with what we like. BYU beating OU! Wow what a game. BYU's defense put the pounding on OU and star quarterback Sam Bradford. Max Hall had a brilliant game and had a hallmark quote at halftime saying, "We're going to win." And they did.

Unga has looked like the best RB in BYU history this season. Rushing for nearly 100 YPG (99.7) and an impressive 5.7 average yards per carry, you wonder why he's not getting 30 touches a game. Not to mention he's taken it to the end zone a cool 10 times as well. Not bad for a guy who started the season on the injury report.

Dennis Pitta hasn't had the breakout season Cougar fans were hoping for, but the guy has been an animal every time he has touched the ball. He leads the receiving core with 5 touchdowns, which coincidentally is also the number of fumbles number two wideout O'Neil Chambers has recorded.

Now the cons this year have been big blows. We all know the losses to FSU and TCU, so I'm not going to say much. But I would be very interested to hear: What's your Reason for the Coug losses? Take your pick at only 1 of the items below and tell us why you feel that way.

  1. Athletic Ability/Talent

  2. Coaching

  3. BYU's Quarterback

  4. The Defense

  5. Uneducated Fans

  6. Last Year's Cougar Club President

Cheers to hopefully another Vegas Bowl!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Colossal Embarassment

At 8:00 A.M. in Provo, Utah, the BYU faithful (including every frenzied fan and cheerleader in the state), did everything humanly possible to get some face time on ESPN's College Gameday, which took place in Provo today. Just 12 short hours later, the same fans are hiding their faces in shame and embarassment.

I would like to call the BYU TCU game a disappointment, but that hardly does justice to the 65K fans at the game and millions of fans elsewhere who witnessed this game. It was an embarassment. A disappointment is losing by a field goal as time expires; or giving up the lead in the second half to lose a game; or even an interception on a key drive which results in a loss. My friends, BYU's two losses this season are colossal embarassments.

Unfortunately, both games came while BYU was on the national stage. Against FSU, the national media said BYU could be in the national championship picture by running the table. Today on ESPN Gameday, the media said this is hands down the biggest game in the country today. BYU's mottos of honor, discipline, and integrity were nowhere to be found. But how about they coin a new motto: consistency. Every time they show up for a big game on a national stage, they consistently get blown out.

So who is to blame for the monumental flops this season? The uneducated (and often times critical) fans? Maybe. But both games had some common themes. In both games, one team came prepared to play and the other didn't. In both games, one coaching staff brought innovative playcalls where thoughtful strategy was apparent and the other didn't. In both games, BYU fans came with high hopes and left with utter disappointments. Again, I want to emphasize, a loss against FSU or TCU or Utah or any other team in the country never feels good as a fan. But it happens and it is understandable. Now, getting blown out twice at home in the same season, with national media, in front of a sell-out frenzied crowd is complete devastation.

After these types of embarassments, every big league sports program in the country finds somebody to fire (just ask Bobby Bowden at FSU, whose team ironically beat BYU). The question is: "Does BYU have the intestinal fortitude to do the same?"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lowered Expectations

After dismantling UNLV, BYU is sitting pretty at 5-1 on the year. But the mood around Cougartown has been less than positive. This is despite the fact that the Cougars are on their way to their fourth-straight 10-win season (my fingers are crossed). But fans are acting like we're still in the Crowton years. It was the same as last season when the Cougars went 10-3 (a really good season, right?). But fans ultimately looked upon BYU's 2008 campaign as a failure.

Why is that? Well, I think I know why.

Two words: The Quest

When Bronco came here, he talked endlessly about returning the Cougars to national prominence. I think he's already accomplished that goal. And after two straight
11-2 seasons, he was talking about perfection and busting the BCS. And maybe even (gulp) the national championship.

Prior to the 2008 season, his team adopted the motto: The Quest for Perfection. The program even got fans involved when it made T-shirts with the words: The Quest printed on them.

I'm not just saying this because of how things turned out, but I remember the first time I saw those shirts. I had as high of expectations as anyone did prior to that season. I was at the BYU Bookstore looking for a new BYU T-shirt to wear to home games when I saw those shirts. I immediately got a bad feeling, and I knew that the Cougars and their fans were setting themselves up for a hu
ge disappointment.

And I was right. The TCU loss sucked all the life out of the Cougars and us fans. Coupled with Yootah's own quest for perfection (their 2nd in five years), it was a devastating time to be a Cougar fan.

This year, everyone (myself included) was talking about BYU running the table after the first two games, and possibly playing for the national championship in January. But that all died down fast when the schizophrenic Seminoles came in and blasted the Cougs. Now fans are just depressed again. (PS... I knew the Cougars were going to lose the game when I walked into the stadium and saw dozens and dozens of fans still wearing The Quest T-shirts again. Those things should have been destroyed after the TCU loss in 2008.)

So what's my point? Fans just need to chill out. Lower your expectations a little bit. I know that sounds cynical, but it's made my life a lot easier. That doesn't mean you can't get excited about BYU football. Just back up a little bit and look at the big picture. Bronco's going to talk about busting the BCS and potentially playing for a national championship. What else is he gonna say? But that doesn't mean fans should be disappointed with anything less than the BCS. This isn't Florida or USC. Contending for the MWC championship every year should be the level of expectation. Everything on top of that is gravy.

So fellow Cougar fans, let us unite and celebrate the season the Cougs are having. Recognize that Max Hall is not a Heisman-caliber quarterback. He is the collegiate equivalent of Tony Romo (he does well against inferior opponents in small games and implodes against better teams in big games). But if the Cougars rely on their punishing running game instead of Max's arm so much, they will win 10+ games and have a great shot at winning the MWC.

And also, if you have a The Quest T-shirt... burn it. Burn 'em all. I don't care if it's the only BYU shirt you have. Come up with $5 and buy a new one. The outcome of this season depends on it. Tell your loved ones. Spread the word. We need to rid ourselves of them, because The Quest has become The Curse.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Predict BYU vs. UNLV Score

Time for your predictions. What will the final score of the BYU vs. UNLV game be this Saturday?

The Las Vegas line is BYU by 17 with an
over/under of 63. Therefore, the line predicts the score to be:

BYU: 40 UNLV: 23

Budd's Prediction: 38-17 for BYU

In the spirit of playing like champions (and since I work for General Mills), whoever can guess closest to the actual score wins a box of cereal that hasn't even hit the shelf yet (will launch in early 2010). Drum roll please . . . . Wheaties Fuel!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BYU Coach Says What?

I received a friendly e-mail today from a colleague who is a die-hard University of Utah fan. We regularly send each other taunts, clippings, and pictures in the form of e-mail bashing the opposing school. So it naturallly caught me by surprise when the tagline in the e-mail today read: My Level of Respect for Bronco has now Gone Way Up.

Included in the e-mail, were instructions to go to Google and type: "BYU coach calls fans dumb" and see what you find . . . Some interesting articles about Bronco Mendenhall calling out BYU fans who have been found criticizing the program recently.

The punchline from all the articles is (referring to BYU fans, who apparently criticize)
"The level of criticism usually matches the level of
You can listen to the clip at

Did I hear what I thought I heard? Now, let's be honest, with BYU receiving national press constantly this season with their upset victory to #3 Oklahoma, a lot of words have been twisted, distorted, and taken out of context. But the words coming from Bronco's lips don't appear to be taken out of context. Can I echo Chris Berman and other ESPN announcers in saying, "C'mon man!"

Speaking of levels of education . . . Maybe, Bronco should go back to Business Management 101 and learn what the term "Job Security" means. Criticizing fans and boosters who fund the football program because they have so-called "high expectations" isn't exactly what I would call "an educated decision." I would call it biting the hand that feeds.

Let's face it Bronco, we live in a new day and age where fan expectations are going to be a little higher than the Lavell days where a conference championship would suffice. Now that our friends up north have busted the BCS and won their bowl games twice in the last five seasons, every BYU fan across this beautiful green earth can't help but ask themselves, "why can't BYU do the same?" The other coach vying for your position (Whittingham) has taken his team the distance by going 13 - 0, and now it's time for BYU to figure out how to do the same.