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 huge 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.