Monday, February 26, 2018

Tasha’s Top 18 Olympians of 2018

(Image source:
Hi Friends,

Long time, no see. I know I haven't written on this blog in forever, partly because it's hard to write and proofread at work all day and then convince myself to continue writing on my blog afterward. I just can't stare at a computer screen that long. Also, let's face it-- BYU sports, for the most part, have been sucking lately. I still love my footballers and basketballers, but man, they've had a rough year.

So, I know this isn't a BYU-related post, but it is a sports-related post. And I will tie in BYU at least once... maybe multiple times... I promise. 

Let me just start by saying I LOVE THE OLYMPICS. I'm pretty sure I love the Olympics more than March Madness... and that's really saying something. I've had a lot of people tell me lately that they just haven't had time to watch the Olympics, which makes me sad. So for those people (or for those who want to re-live it), I have compiled a list of my 18 favorite Olympians of 2018, accompanied by videos for most, so you can get a taste of what happened in Pyeong Chang without spending several hours each night for 18 days watching TV (like I did). 

So, here we go:

Tasha’s Top 18 Olympians of 2018

18. German 2-man Bobsled Team- They crashed. And still won the race. They ended up coming in 4th place overall, but I think they should get a medal anyway. 

17. Aliona Savchenco- She has been to five Olympics. FIVE. And finally won a gold medal in Pyeong Chang. Her reaction (2nd video on this page) was priceless.

16. Jessie DigginsI’ve never tried cross-country skiing, but dang that looks hard. This girl managed to ski uphill and force her way from 3rd to 1st place in a matter of seconds for the first-ever gold in cross country for Team USA. 

15. Oleksandr Abramenko- I instantly became a fan of this guy while watching ski jump aerials. This gold medal jump is crazy, and it was the first-ever winter Olympic gold medal for Ukraine. 

14. Ester Ledecka- She won 2 gold medals in 2 different sports, Super G skiing AND snowboard parallel giant slalom. That’s nuts!

13. Mikaela Shiffrin- I’m not a huge skiing fan because I just don’t think it’s very exciting to watch, but dang, this girl can fly really fast down a mountain. She won silver in women’s combined and gold in giant slalom.

12. Alina Zagitova- I wanted to leave all Russians off this list on principle (because I think they should have been banned completely from the Olympics), but this girl is too adorable and too talented to deny. How can you not love her little tutus? And yes, I think she’s a better than Medvedeva. Don’t hate me. Watch amazingness here

11. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir- If you can’t have Meryl Davis & Charlie White, these guys are the next best thing

10. Lindsey Vonn- Again, I’m not a skiing fan, but when she gave a post-race interview about her late grandfather and how she loves skiing so much but her body just can’t handle it anymore made me want to be her when I grow up. #oldwomenunite

9. Mirai Nagasu- Because she nailed a triple axel, which apparently is nigh unto impossible.

8. Chloe Kim- She’s only 17, but she’s already got a gold medal and her face on a box of Corn Flakes. And I’m not sure what she does better—snowboarding half pipe or photobombing people with Jimmy Fallon. 

7. Nathan Chen- We hail from the same home town, so how could I not be a fan? I was so disappointed when he fell all over the place in both the team competition and individual short program, but he definitely redeemed himself by landing 5 clean quads in his free skate and came pretty darn close to the podium anyway. Unfortunately, this was my first thought (BYU tie-in #1), but I love him anyway. #SLCRepresent

6. U.S. Women’s Hockey Team- I’m not a hockey fan, but man that shootout was intense, and the U.S. came away with a much-deserved gold for the first time since 1998.

5. Yuzuru Hanyu- Hands down the best male skater in the world. Plus, he’s like a rock star in Japan and Winnie the Pooh is his good luck charm. How can anyone not like this guy?

4. The Shib Sibs- I have been a fan of Maia and Alex Shibutani for several years, and I’m so glad they finally got an individual Olympic medal! Loved their free skate.

3. Red Gerard- While Chloe Kim gives him a run for his money, I think Red Gerard is the coolest 17-year-old on earth. He’s so unassuming and seems to have no idea why people like him so much… which makes him all the more likable. Plus, he's crazy good at snowboarding.

2. Team Shuster- I got totally sucked into curling this year, and now I love it. I think it was Matt Hamilton who said it’s like “chess meets shuffleboard”—so intriguing and complex. I was thrilled when the U.S. came away with their first-ever gold. Granted I have only been a curling fan for approximately 19 days, but I’m pretty sure Shuster’s last shot in the 8th end of the gold medal game was the best curling shot in the history of ever. #miraCURLonice

1. Shaun White- Easy choice. He’s the GOAT. The Michael Phelps / Wayne Gretzky / Jimmer Fredette (BYU tie-in #2) of snowboarding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as happy as Shaun was when he won gold. Best Olympic moment of 2018 for sure! 

Honorable mentions: 
Yay for the Olympics! Can't wait for Tokyo 2020. :) 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

3 Reasons I Won't Be Heartbroken If BYU Doesn't Get Into the Big 12

The moment is (maybe) upon us. The Big 12 head honchos are (supposedly) going to meet tomorrow and will (possibly) make a decision regarding expansion. Although it wouldn't surprise me one iota if they come out and say they're still trying to decide whether to expand or not, I have a hunch they will announce that they have decided not to expand at all. Sounds like it will just create too much drama with their current TV contracts, and they never wanted to expand in the first place-- I think they just felt obligated to "explore" the idea so people wouldn't accuse them of making a rash decision without looking into all the options. Whether the announcement is made tomorrow or six months or a year from now, I don't know, but I do know if they decide not to expand or if they do decide to expand but not include BYU, a lot of BYU fans are going to be very upset. I'm not one of those people. Here's why.

1. I like decisive people. Flakiness is one of my biggest pet peeves, and the Big 12 has made it very clear they are the WORST decision makers on the PLANET. They dilly-dally around ideas for months or years before making a decision. And usually the decision they come to after a slew of meetings is a decision to explore the idea of possibly making a decision at some undetermined point in the future. I really don't want my school to be part of an organization that can't get their act together well enough to accomplish anything. It's so infuriating, and if every single one of their decisions (or lack thereof) started affecting BYU, I think it would make me want to pull my hair out... This tweet I saw a few weeks ago sums it up pretty well:

2. I like variety. It's exciting to play a mostly different batch of teams each year. If I was Tom Holmoe, I'd probably be frustrated by the prospect of continuing to put together an entire schedule every year from scratch, but I'm not Tom Holmoe. If BYU joined the Big 12, sure, they'd play teams like Texas, Oklahoma, and Baylor every year without even trying, but I think it's fun to have a little bit of mystery and variety behind the schedule. Just judging by how tired I am of playing WCC teams in basketball year after year (and it's only been 5 years), I think I'd get pretty tired of playing the same teams every year in football, too.

3. I like the honor code. I'll try not to get on my soap box too much here, but it seems to me like the only reason the Big 12 would expand but not include BYU is because of the honor code. And if that happens, I say good-freaking-riddance. So you don't want to associate yourself with a school that stands up for what they believe in and has moral guidelines that the large majority of people in the world would never voluntarily subscribe to? Even worse, you don't want to associate yourself with that school BECAUSE of those guidelines? It is my belief that anyone who says BYU's honor code discriminates against LGBT people or sexual assault victims doesn't understand the honor code. And the honor code does SO much more good than harm that it's not even a remotely close comparison. If you want us to throw out our standards and religious beliefs to be part of your club, then I am just fine with staying as far away from you as possible.

So while there may be weeping and whaling and gnashing of teeth if the Big 12 decides not to expand or to disqualify BYU from their expansion exploration, I'm okay with it. Yes, there would definitely be some good aspects of being a member of the Big 12 (like recruiting, financial compensation, etc.), but I think being Independent is pretty good too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I Should Probably Blog About BYU Football...

Taysom doing Taysom things.
I guess I've been MIA for the entire summer... As intriguing as this off-season was, especially for football, I just haven't had any brilliant thoughts that I wanted to blog about. But now that BYU football has actually started, the hype train is starting up again, and I guess I should get on board!

Even though the Arizona game turned out to be a nail-biter, I wasn't too worried until we fell behind in the 4th quarter. BYU was playing very well overall, even though they weren't putting a lot of points on the board. I think this team is a huge improvement over last year in many ways. Here are a few of my observations from game #1.

There must be a magical ingredient
in that chapstick...
Source: Twitter
First, Ty Detmer really is a GENIUS. Great play calling, good time management, and only one 3-and-out for the offense is a HUGE step up from what happened under Anae (I never liked that guy, for the record... thank goodness he's Virginia's problem now).

Second, Taysom is definitely BACK! Yes, I was one of those people who verbally shouted "DON'T GET HURT!" every time Taysom ran with the ball. Hopefully the anxiety will die down as the season goes on, but it was great to see him on the field again. Call me crazy if you want, but I think he looked better in the Arizona game than he did pre-injury in the Nebraska game last year. Calmer and more poised, he made faster & better decisions and didn't look like he was playing to not get injured. I'm glad he's willing to "leave everything out there" for his last year. That kid (or I guess I should say 26-year-old man) is tough as nails, and I'm so glad he's on our team.

Don't even bother trying to tackle me...
Also gotta give a shout-out to our other returning star, J-Swagg Daddy himself, Jamaal Williams. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and his almost 2 years away from football has done him a world of good. He's off to a great start for his goal of becoming BYU's all-time leading rusher, and he's certainly doing it with style!

Third, our defense is GOOD. They shut out Arizona, certainly not a cupcake team, for almost 3 whole quarters! The Arizona offense looked confused and just plain stuck in a rut. Francis Bernard, Fred Warner, Kai Nacua, Butch Pau'u... so many BYU players made brilliant plays. If not for a few assignment errors (should be easily correctable), we would have won that game by double digits.

The moment Jake Oldroyd became a BYU legend.
However, if we had won by double digits, the game wouldn't have come down to a kick. Good news is, maybe I don't have to be so panicked about the kicking game after all... Where did this Oldroyd kid come from?! When I realized the game was going to come down to a field goal, I was literally sitting on the floor, hugging my knees to my chest & rocking back and forth with my face in my hands, debating about whether to look at the TV screen or not. "We don't have a kicker, we don't have a kicker... We're gonna lose because we don't have a kicker!!!" But then green-cleated. 18-year-old walk-on Jake Oldroyd stepped up & took my fears away.

The more I've learned about Oldroyd the last few days, the better the story gets. He wore his green high school cleats because he hadn't even been issued BYU cleats yet. The last field goal he kicked was in his junior year of high school. He was injured during fall camp, so he hasn't even practiced with the team yet. He originally wasn't even going to go to Arizona because he wasn't on the 2-deep. Now going into rivalry week, he's the starting kicker. You can't make this stuff up!

As great as the Arizona game was, this week could be a whole different story. I still hate the rivalry... but it does seem different this year, in a good way. Maybe I'm just oblivious, or maybe things will change in the next few days, but I've seen fewer nasty comments than usual, and the banter seems to be more "all-in-good-fun". This video in particular is hilarious... but it's not cruel. Could someone have pulled that off on BYU's campus instead? Probably... but I'm sure glad Cougar fans thought of it first! haha. I want to laugh during rivalry week... not scream into a pillow. Is that too much to ask?

I really want the rivalry to be fun again (although I'm not sure I remember a time when it was "fun", at least not in my lifetime of fandom). I really hope the relationship between Kyle Whittingham and Kalani Sitake can be a good example to fans on both sides of the field for civility and respect. As Sitake said a few months ago, "I love Kyle... but sometimes good people have to lose." :)

I have no idea what's going to happen on Saturday... it could definitely go in a million different directions. Of course I really hope BYU comes out on top, but even if they don't, I have high hopes for a good season this year against a super tough schedule. Go Cougs!

Friday, March 4, 2016

BYU Basketball Seniors: Farewell to Kyle, Chase, & Nate

We may have seen the last of 3 of the most-loved BYU hoopsters on the court at the Marriott Center. Here's my tribute to BYU Basketball seniors Kyle Collinsworth, Chase Fischer, and Nate Austin.

Kyle Collinsworth
Kyle Collinsworth

Jimmer's senior year (which was Kyle's freshman year), one of my roommates, Traci, decided that since everyone else loved Jimmer, she wanted to direct her attention to someone else, and she wisely chose Kyle, despite his unfortunate hairstyle choices. One time that winter, I saw Kyle at a BYU gymnastics meet and decided to get his autograph for Traci. I walked up to him (he was with a couple of friends out on the track at the SFH after the meet) and told him my roommate Traci was his biggest fan and asked for his autograph for her. He agreed, and as he signed the paper I handed him, the friend standing next to him asked me, "So why does your roommate like Kyle so much?" I said, "Um, because he's good at basketball?" Kyle's friend said, "Yeah, and he's really handsome, too!" Kyle turned bright red and handed the autographed paper back to me, then gave his friend the death stare. After walking away, I noticed that he had written: "Tracy- Thanks for being a great fan!" and signed his name at the bottom. When I gave her the paper that evening and apologized that he spelled her name wrong, she said, "That's okay! I'll go down to the courthouse & change it tomorrow!"

That's a fun memory for me, especially seeing what Kyle has become post-mission and post-ACL surgery. He's definitely gained in confidence, swagger, and talent over the past 6 years!

What more can you really say about Kyle? He's the undisputed triple double king. With 11 NCAA triple doubles, he is arguably one of the best players to ever take the court at BYU. He's definitely one of the most versatile. No one else stuffs stats like he does. I hope KC gets a shot in the NBA because I really don't want to have to stop watching him play basketball!

Nate Austin
Nate Austin

Another story. Nate was in my stake a few years ago. One time at institute, our stake president was teaching the lesson, and he asked the question, "Where are the gates of Hell located?" With no hesitation, I heard a booming voice to my left shout out "The University of Utah!" Lo and behold, it was one Nate Austin. I have no idea how I didn't notice a 7-foot-tall guy sitting 2 chairs away from me until then, but it was hilarious. We definitely know that Nate is true blue, through and through.

Nate now holds two BYU basketball records-- most games played, and he recently passed Russell Larson for most fouls committed. I hope he is equally proud of both those accolades. :) I'm really glad Nate was able to come back as a 5th year senior. He's definitely not a high-scorer, and he hasn't even started very many games this year, but I think a lot of people don't realize just how much work he does to get rebounds, block shots, and scramble for loose balls . . . and things like that have the potential to win games. Without him, we probably wouldn't have beaten Gonzaga in the kennel for the second year in a row. Way to go, Rex!

Chase Fischer
Chase Fischer

Chase has been a great addition to BYU. He transferred from Wake Forest, so he was only able to play 2 years for the Cougars, but he has already scored 1,000+ points-- one of very few players to achieve that goal in only half a standard college career. Despite not being LDS, he has really embraced the BYU culture and has made a mark here both on & off the basketball court.

Chase's favorite spot in Provo is Sprouts market, and he wants to open a gym called "Chase Fischer's Aesthetics Gym" after graduation. He has great hair, an even greater accent, an awesome sense of humor, a beautiful long-range shot, and he loves God, Guns, and America. What more could you ask for? I really wish I was married just so I could join the "Married People Who Admire Chase Fischer Club." You will be sorely missed, Chase.

Hopefully we will be able to avoid the NIT and send these boys off with an NCAA tourney bid-- they definitely deserve it! Thank you, Seniors!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

BYU Hoops vs. Gonzaga: An Epistle

Behold, I write unto you an epistle, inspired by the words of my fellow Cougar fan & Twitter friend Jess following the Gonzaga game in the Kennel last year. Enjoy. :)

1. And it came to pass, on the fourteenth day of the first month in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen, the Cougars did again journey to the land of Spokane to go to battle against the warriors of Gonzaga.

2. Like unto their battle in the year previous, the Zags had received a national ranking. They had not earned as high a ranking as the year before, but they had obtained a respectable ranking of twenty-five, and I say unto you, the Cougars had no such ranking; therefore, they were not expected to be victorious, and some critics did mock and revile them.

3. Yet the Cougars did proceed with much confidence and a knowledge that their forefathers, led by Captain Tyler Haws, had defeated the Zags in the land of Spokane last year, yea, they believed they could do the same.

4. And the Cougars did fight with much valor, yet much to the dismay of the Cougs, the Zags did also show much fortitude in battle.

5. And with nine minutes and forty-five seconds remaining in the first half, the Triple Double King, Kyle Collinsworth, did proceed to sit on the bench, for behold, he had obtained two fouls. Woe, woe, woe unto the referees! Yet, the remaining Cougar warriors did take courage and did return to battle without him.

6. And behold, the Cougars were down by four points at the half.

7. Yet in the second half, Captain Collinsworth was permitted to return to battle. And he did fight valiantly and did obtain many points for the Cougars, yea, even twenty points. Yea, he was nigh unto unstoppable.

8. Yet behold, the Zags did obtain a large lead, yea, even a lead of thirteen points. Yet the Cougars did not surrender, for they knew the Lord was with them, and they did cut that lead down to one.

9. For with little time remaining in the battle, yea, only one minute and thirty-eight seconds, the mighty Nick Emery, who is but a freshman and had yet to score any points in this contest, did obtain the ball and did shoot it from a long distance; yea, I say unto you, it was from Jimmer range.

10. And the ball did go into the hoop to obtain three points for the Cougars, and there was much celebration among the other Cougar warriors, for BYU was now ahead by two points.

11. Yet the battle was not over.

12. Behold, despite having been wounded prior to a battle against the forces of evil, also known as the Utes, one year ago, the mighty Nate Austin did obtain a shirt of red and did return to battle with the Cougars again this season.

13. He did receive yet another battle wound being struck mightily in the head during  the first half of this contest, yet he did gather his courage and continued to fight in the second half. And behold, this did become quite fortuitous for the Cougars.

14. For with only three seconds remaining in the battle, the Zag called Wiltjer did attempt to make a shot that, were he successful, would earn Gonzaga the victory.

15. But behold, the mighty Nate Rex Austin did rise up, and he knew the BYU Sports Nation Karma was with him, and he did jump with a hand held high and a mighty roar; and behold, he did swat the ball out of the air; therefore, it did not reach the basket.

16. Austin then did swiftly pursue the ball, yea, all the way to the sideline that the Zags did not lay hold on it again. Yea, he was fouled and did proceed to the free throw line with less than one second remaining in the battle.

17. Austin did not make the free throw, but behold, it mattereth not.

18. And Wiltjer did score thirty-five points in the battle, yea, a new career high, but behold, it mattereth not.

19. For the desperation full-court shot of the Zags did not go in. And behold, the buzzer did sound, and the Cougars did defeat the Zags once again in the Kennel. And there was much rejoicing among the Cougar faithful and in the land of Provo.

20. Yea, no other team in the Conference of the West Coast has ever defeated the Zags in their own land two years in a row since the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-six, save the Cougars.

21. But behold, the time is not far distant that there shall be another battle between the Cougars and the Zags; yea, it shall take place on the twenty-seventh day of the second month of the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen in the land of Provo.

22. The Cougars shall be prepared and shall rise up again unto battle with courage and fortitude, prepared to obtain the West Coast Conference crown; and great shall be the battle thereof. And I say unto you, Go Cougs!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Coach Krystkowiak Cancels 2016 Basketball Game with BYU: Here's My Reaction

I'm trying not to be angry about this, but it's not working. I've never liked Larry Krystkowiak. I think the only Utah coach I've disliked more is Rick Majerus. And maybe Jim Boylen. But the little teeny, tiny bit of respect I had to Krystko is now completely gone. 

I'm not really upset about the game being cancelled. If it were up to me, I'd have BYU never play Utah ever again in any sport. I wish we could just go our separate ways and never interact with each other again because the rivalry has become far from fun. What I am upset about is the "reason" behind it-- both the stated reason and the real reason. The stated reason:

"Potential for serious injury", huh? Gag me. If you're really worried about your players' safety, then you'd better just cut the team altogether because who knows what could happen out on the court tonight or the next night or the night after that? Sports bring emotion and the potential for injury with them-- it's unavoidable, no matter who you're playing. One of your players could blow out his knee or his ankle or break a bone in a game with Podunk State University, but you're not worried about that, are you?

The real reason? In my opinion, the University of Utah has just decided they are better than BYU in every way, and they are not even going to bother with playing sub-standard opponents like us. Because the most recent "dirty" play came from a BYU player (Nick Emery) and the Utes are on a winning streak, they think if they bow out now, they'll come out looking like the better team in the long run, both on the court and off. In their minds, they are the perfect model for how all student athletes should be, and they're not going to risk having that wonderful "reputation" ruined by playing BYU anymore.

I like how Greg Wrubell put it:

I'll be the first to admit that what Emery did was really stupid. But the Utah players are far from innocent. First, Nick punched Brandon Taylor in the stomach / chest area, and he fell to the floor holding his face. Can you say "flopping"? Second, Taylor wasn't even close to "seriously injured". He was perfectly fine a few minutes later. Third, while it's not an excuse, Nick was provoked. Taylor was playing dirty with him all night long. It didn't just come out of nowhere, like Taylor claims. Third, what about that exact same Brandon Taylor kicking Tyler Haws in the crotch last year? Or when Utah's Marshall Henderson punched Nick's older brother Jackson Emery back in 2010?

Yes, there are some stupid things that have been done by BYU players and fans over the years. But there are equally stupid things that have been done by Utah players and fans over the years-- it's a two-way street, people! I'm so tired of Utes claiming they are perfect little angels, and 100% of the "dirty" play comes from BYU's side.

One of the first tweets I saw yesterday after the news broke was from a Utah fan: "The lack of respect from BYU has led Utah to not value the rivalry." Again, I think I'm gonna throw up... Please give me one example in which Utah showed some respect for BYU. Anybody? Bueller?

Even Coach Krystko himself wasn't perfect in his college basketball playing days...

And the way he flipped his lid and essentially tried to attack Nick Emery after the punch and had to be held back doesn't exactly portray him as a saint.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone... What a bunch of childish hypocrites.

Play the game or don't play the game. Take the money and move on. I don't care. But man up and admit that both sides are at fault when it comes to playing "dirty". Maybe something does need to change to make the rivalry more civil (if we ever do play again), but it's certainly NOT just something BYU has to do.

I've never been a Ute hater before -- really and truly -- but I think I'm becoming one now.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bronco is Leaving BYU for Virginia... So Who Will Be the New BYU Football Coach?

Farewell, Bronco...
(From BYU Football Facebook Page)
I'm still in shock from yesterday's news that Bronco is leaving BYU for the head coaching job at Virginia. Not to be sacrilegious, but I feel similar to the way I felt when President Hinckley died. I've only been a BYU fan since 2004-ish, so Bronco is the only coach I've ever known!

I guess I must have missed something because I thought Bronco was fully committed to BYU and would be with us until he retired from football. I must have been living in a hole to not know that he's said several times before that someday he wanted to coach somewhere else... I'm totally baffled by the whole thing.

As much as I hate the fact that Bronco is leaving, I'm more worried about the aftershocks spreading to other members of the staff and current and future players. Is Taysom going to transfer to Virginia now? What about Jamaal? What about recruits coming in over the next few years? What members of the staff is Bronco going to take with him? Gah, my head is still spinning!

But of course, the most important thing and the question highest in everyone's minds is, who is going to be the new coach at BYU?

Here are the 4 names I've seen most often in the last 21 hours, ranked from who I think would be the worst choice to the best:

Kyle Whittingham- Please no. Please no, no, no. I know he played at BYU. But I don't like him and I don't trust him. I could totally see him coaching BYU just long enough to sabotage their game against Utah, and then quitting and going back to Salt Lake with a smug smile on his face. I can't believe any true BYU fan would actually want him to coach our team... y'all are crazy.

Robert Anae- Bad idea. His performance as offensive coodinator has been a roller coaster at best. Um, didn't he get fired a few years ago? Pretty sure there was a good reason for that... I also don't think he has the personality or the "bedside manner" that's necessary for a head coach to have. Plus, he'd have a much larger role with speaking to the media, and that would just be a disaster-- he's the opposite of eloquent, sensible, or even appropriate. Most of the time, he comes across as downright rude when speaking with the media, which would not be good for BYU's image. 

Kalani Sitaki- Now to the decent options. I admit I'd never heard Kalani Sitaki's name before yesterday, but from my new limited knowledge, I think he'd be pretty good. As the current defensive coordinator at Oregon State, it sounds like he'd be similar to Bronco in football philosophy. He seems to be the most popular option among BYU fans from what I've heard & seen. And rumor has it that he has expressed interest in coming to BYU at some point... so there's a really good chance he'd be interested & invested in making it work.

Ken Niumatalolo- Continuing in the interest of full disclosure, almost everything I know about Niumatalolo I learned from "Meet the Mormons", but I think he's my first choice right now. Assuming he is similar to the way he was portrayed in the movie, I think he'd be a great fit for BYU. He can be tough, but he's also smart and sensible. Plus, his son is already on the BYU football team. I think he'd be a great choice. Maybe we could even have Niumatalolo as head coach and bring on Sitaki as DC. I like that idea most of all.

Then again, what do I know? The pool of potential candidates is smaller than at most other schools because the head coach has to be LDS, but it still could be a wide range of people. No matter what happens, brace yourself because a lot of interesting things are going to happen in Provo in the next few weeks...

Friday, October 2, 2015

BYU in the Big House: Knife. Heart. Twist.

I've "written" about a dozen different versions of this post in my head over the last week. Before the game, I was thinking about how I would talk about how cool the stadium is, what a great opportunity it was to be there, and how confident I felt that BYU would come out with a victory (and preferably how I turned out to be right). But by halftime, I was having radically different thoughts.

As I spent most of halftime fighting back tears in the bathroom under the stands (yes, I'm serious...), the only thoughts running through my head were, "What in the world was I thinking coming all the way out here for this game? Why did I ever think this was a good idea?! I can't believe I spent all that money for THIS!" While I was obviously upset about the way the game was going, I was even more upset with myself for thinking there was no way I could be disappointed enough in the game that I would regret spending thousands of dollars on this "vacation."

After my prayers for "just one touchdown" and "just one field goal" turned into "just one good play" and eventually "just one first down...", I was totally devastated. On the long 2-mile walk back to the hotel after the game (because I refused to pay $50 for parking), I was seriously considering throwing in the towel on BYU sports all together. Not because I was upset with the team (I am NOT a fair weather fan), but because I was upset with myself for thinking it could never get this bad. If BYU had lost 31-24 or even 31-14, I would have been disappointed, but I'd be over it by now, and I wouldn't regret going. But honestly, I walked out of the Big House permanently traumatized. I've never been so ashamed to be wearing a BYU shirt as I was when I left that stadium.

To those who have said, "Well, at least you go to see a football game in the Big House like you've always wanted..." My response: That wasn't a football game. I'm not even sure I can call it football. It DEFINITELY wasn't a game. That was like paying $400 for tickets on the 20-yard line (plus airfare and hotel) to watch a mediocre high school team get steamrolled by Alabama. I'm pretty sure even most Michigan fans weren't having much fun from the 2nd quarter on... It was the most boring, embarrassing non-game I've ever seen. The BYU defense kind of showed up in the 2nd half, but the offense never did. That was literally the worst performance I've ever seen from a BYU team. EVER.

I think the thing I was most disappointed in was the fact that it looked like the team just gave up by the 4th quarter. I could see the look of dejection on Tanner Mangum's face after each 3-and-out, but I kept wondering, why are they not even trying anymore? Why not take a shot at the end zone to try to at least get one score? Why not go for it on 4th down? What have you got to lose? Seems like Anae just threw in the towel and decided getting 1-yard gains from Nate Carter and short (incomplete) passes were adequate in the 4th quarter. Not acceptable. What happened to fighting til the end, no matter what?

While I am certainly not excusing Tanner Mangum's poor play, I think he tried harder and did better than most of the other players. I'd probably give him a D grade, but the receivers and o-line definitely get an F. The receivers dropped several catchable passes, and the o-line let Michigan's defense rattle Mangum and sack him several times.

I'd also give an F to the coaches. The team clearly wasn't prepared or conditioned properly. I think one of the biggest mistakes was the fact that the team didn't arrive in Ann Arbor until Friday afternoon. I don't see how they would have been able to practice at all before the game-- they had the fireside on Friday night, and then the game was on Saturday morning. You can't win a football game with so little preparation.

Yes, I know it's just one game, and the team will move on and hopefully show up to fight tonight vs. UConn. But to me, this was way more than a game. I was expecting to have one of the best days of my life, no matter the outcome, but instead, it turned out to be one of the worst. 

I am not going to throw in the towel on BYU altogether... but I am going to temper my expectations. Anything can happen in sports, and while this was the absolute last thing I expected, I guess that's life.

I'll end with a few thoughts from the Friday night fireside. Taysom rolled into the chapel with his walking boot & little scooter that we've seen him use way too often. He was the first speaker, and he started out by saying that he doesn't know what his future holds yet (so don't ask...), but he loves his teammates and his family and is still grateful for the opportunity he has to be part of this team. He spoke briefly about his injury and said he was grateful that, right after his injury, he was surrounded by worthy priesthood holders. He asked for a blessing and was in a room full of people who were willing and able to give him one. You won't find that anywhere else...

He concluded by saying, "As difficult as this has been, I know the Lord will provide blessings to make up for it." 

BYU Football is more than football, and I'm grateful for that. As hard and depressing as this week has been for me, I am proud to be a Cougar. You definitely won't find this anywhere else... #GoCougs #BeatUConn

Not a bad view of the Big House... at least I got a few good pictures!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Time Has Come for BYU vs. MICHIGAN!

I've been looking forward to this week's game for almost THREE YEARS. I can't believe it's finally here! I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else right now except excitement for the game and wondering what I'm forgetting to pack, but I figure I should say more in this post than "I'M SO EXCITED FOR THE MICHIGAN GAME!" so here are a few thoughts on Boise State & UCLA.

The Boise State game was crazy. I was lucky enough to wrangle myself a ticket and sat with my awesome BYU fan home teacher & his sister in the student section. I'd almost forgotten how much I hate sitting in the ROC, though . . . No, 5 more people cannot fit there! It's a claustrophobic's worst nightmare. But it was an amazing atmosphere, especially on those 2 final scores, #MangumMiracle #2 with the long pass to Mitch Juergens on 4th and 7 ("WE'VE SEEN THIS BEFORE!"), and Kai Nacua's 3rd interception of the night for a pick-6. I don't think I've ever heard it be so loud in LES before! Best of all, they did it #4Taysom.

Now about UCLA. I always say before games like this that I'll be ok if BYU loses, as long as it's a fair fight and they don't get blown out. But then when they lose by 1 point, I'm never ok with THAT. They really should have won that game and deserved to win that game, so it's frustrating, but definitely not the end of the world. We're still far exceeding expectations.

I'm impressed with Tanner Mangum more each game. He has amazing maturity and poise and the ability to keep calm under pressure, which is so rare among QBs in general-- and he's a freshman!

The Cougs are still ranked going into the Big House, and despite being an underdog again (this time, I hear by about 4 points), I'm confident that they can pull it off. Yes, I am a Michigan fan, too, but I'm going to channel all my BYU fandom into this one-- believe you me! I am definitely cheering for COUGAR blue on Saturday! Watch for me on ABC!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Never Forget Our Fallen Warrior, Taysom Hill

Poor Taysom . . .
Yesterday was a roller coaster of emotions. And as bad as it was for me, I'm sure it was a million times worse for Taysom Hill.

Last night, I decided to join the crowd of fans at the airport to welcome the team home. Taysom & his wife were the first ones off the plane. There were probably a few hundred people in front of me in the "tunnel" through which the players were walking (although it was more like a mosh pit, if you ask me . . .stand back and let the guys breathe, people!) But I didn't even notice Taysom was coming until he was practically right in front of me. Why didn't I see him coming? Because no one was even cheering. Most people were just mumbling his name and a few people touched his arm or patted him on the back, but most people just let him walk through without a word and disappear into the parking lot.

This morning, I saw this video (credit to @DavidFiso's Periscope), which made me feel a little better, since some of the people up by the fence were cheering and clapping for him, but from where I was standing, his appearance was super anticlimactic. 

Watching Sports Center & the local news from last night and this morning, I'm surprised that Taysom's injury is still a major afterthought to the Hail Mary. Yes, the Hail Mary was beyond amazing, but the loss in that game was so much greater than the win. I understand that dwelling on injuries or other bad things is not typically a good idea, but simply saying "Oh, and by the way, Taysom's out for the season." seems like a huge disrespect to #4.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic about all this. Maybe the tributes and rightful respect will come later. I really hope so. And don't get me wrong-- I have seen some. I've even seen a few tweets today from people who are trying to think of a way fans can honor Taysom throughout the rest of the season, and I think that's a great idea. But from the way I saw the scene at the airport play out, I'm very disappointed.

I thought he might have been in a wheelchair or something, but he was walking. His hands were full of stuff and he had headphones on and was obviously trying to smile and fight back the tears . . . But he mostly just kept his head down and avoided eye contact with everyone as he walked through the crowd. He was hardly acknowledged. It wasn't until the other players came out that the cheers really erupted. Just a few hours after his 3rd season-ending injury, it's like Taysom's already been forgotten.

I'm #TeamTaysom Forever!
I know the title of this post is especially cheesy . . . but I'm dead serious when I say that I hope we never forget who Taysom Hill really is. 

He should have received the loudest cheer of all last night . . . but he definitely didn't, and that makes me sad. We wouldn't have won that game without him. I saw one tweet this morning that said the Hail Mary has largely "numbed" the BYU fan base about Taysom's injury. I'm not numb at all about it-- I feel the pain completely, fully, and I'm sure he does, too.

I've had my fair share of rough times in life, but I can't even imagine what it would be like to work so hard for 11 months to come back from a badly broken leg. He worked his butt off and was FINALLY healthy and ready to go . . . and then it was all taken away from him again in less than half of a football game. 

Yes, we should support Tanner Mangum and get excited about the future. But let's not forget about the guy who worked his tail off to come back from 2 season-ending injuries, only to receive a 3rd, which is probably career-ending, just a few hours later. Taysom Hill is a true warrior, hero, and BYU Cougar legend.

Ok, I guess I'll get off my soapbox now . . . But not without saying THANK YOU to Taysom Hill and giving him the loudest cyber cheer I possibly can and standing ovation from my living room. He's one of the best football players and human beings that Cougar fans have had the privilege of watching play sports.

Instead of ignoring and forgetting him and "moving on", let's get behind him! Even if he never plays another down of football again, he has done enough to seal himself in the Cougar history books as one of the greatest QBs to ever play here. Never forget that THIS happened one year ago today. My heart still hurts for #4.