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!

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