Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stanley Havili and More

Stanley Havili's decision to attend USC over BYU has been on my mind more than it probably ought to be. That plus Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune writing an article about him that I didn't completely agree with, joined forces with several other elements to cause me to decide to start this weblog. Among those elements are my passion for BYU sports in general, a long-held desire to write, and my wife's experience with her own blog.

My wife, who did not grow up in the Church and missed the "glory" days of BYU football, told me that if our son grew up and had the choice between playing for USC and BYU, she would be for him going to USC, based on the current state of Cougar football. My response to her was that if a kid is "all that", he was going to be a star regardless of what school he played for. I gave her numerous examples of guys that played for less than top-notch schools, yet did great things for their schools and ended up doing well in the pros. Among them were Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State), and Ben Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio). I also mentioned that it's yet to be seen if Stanley Havili will be as good as one Luke Staley, who did all right for himself at BYU.

Which brings me to the real point of this post: I believe LDS athletes should be using their talent for the benefit of the Church, which is best done representing the school that people recognize represents the Church. Ben Olson should be at BYU. I didn't think he'd play right away when he returned, because I frankly expected John Beck to be as good as Ben, with two years game experience to boot--I wish that expectation had been accurate. So I understood Ben's desire to go somewhere else where he thought he could play sooner, his stated lack of fear regarding competition notwithstanding--note that he didn't consider going to USC, despite their recent reputation for making good quarterbacks great. Whatever Ben is, he's not stupid. He wouldn't have played behind Matt Leinart and John David Booty, the guy who held the title of Best High School Quarterback his senior year, just as Ben had his senior year. Nevertheless, Ben should be at BYU, and not just because he had an obligation to the school that didn't get other quarterbacks to come because Ben had committed. He should be at BYU because his success should benefit BYU, which benefits his Church. Stanley Havili should be at BYU for the same reason. Haloti Ngata, who apparently was named All-American, should have been at BYU. So should JT (Johnathan) Mapu--glad to see JT Mapu on a mission, by the way. If these kids have the talent to go to the NFL from UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Tennessee, they will go to the NFL from BYU (see the number of players from BYU in the NFL in this article). If these kids would collectively pull their heads out of the sand and realize that collective talent wins football games--something that Gary Crowton could attest to in his first year, with a Doak Walker award winner, all-conference quarterback, two future NFL defensive ends and a tight end that started for a Super Bowl team the next year--they would realize that they could make BYU a great team, not just contribute to the greatness of other schools. It's a serious shame that they don't realize that.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...this post sounds suspiciously like the "BYU is GOD'S TEAM" crap I sometimes hear by blind Cougar Fans.

Let's make something clear here: BYU is owned by the church--But BYU sports are *NOT* an extension of church doctrine.

If there is one thing about Mormon Culture that is pathetically blind, it is the notion that all good LDS kids (athletes or otherwise) are somehow supposed to go to BYU. Poppycock! If we as a church are to shine to the world, we must have faithful representatives from our church spread throughout all the world.

Yes, that means going to college somewhere other than BYU (or BYU-Idaho).

The "Party Line" of sending 99% of our LDS kids to BYU qualifies, IMO, as "Hiding our light under a bushel."

Kudos to the LDS students who take their faith and show their examples to the world by going to universities all over the world--and not just in Provo. Their classmates and their teammates are blessed by their presence.

- Randy W.

The Passionate Cougar said...

I'm surprised that you replied to this comment rather than "An Acute Irony" if you're looking to get worked up over "crap" by "blind Cougar Fans".

I think you also read more into this post than was there. The post was strictly about athletes choosing whether to play at BYU. Although it is true that a BYU graduate going into the workplace is immediately presumed to be a member of the LDS Church (and will therefore likely adhere to a high standard of both moral and work ethics, which has made them increasingly in demand), my point--better articulated at the article mentioned above, perhaps--was that success at BYU reflects positively on the Church. Perhaps you don't think that BYU is widely recognized as being the school that represents the LDS Church in athletics, for both good and bad. My experience leads me to vigorously disagree, if that is indeed what you think. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I heard an announcer on "the Mtn." say that Jim McMahon was one of the great Cougar QB's who didn't go on a mission. I thought EVERYONE knew that he wasn't LDS, but apparently not. So, for this announcer at least, everything McMahon has done, good and bad, reflects the Church.

Do you think that Boise State didn't get a lot of favorable reaction towards their win over Oklahoma? Wouldn't the Church get at least some positive publicity with another BCS Bowl-type season (thinking about the 1984 Championship year)? That's not going to happen without some talent at BYU. Great coaching is terrific, but the best Cougar teams have consistently sent several players to the NFL, which means they had considerable talent to begin with. A great player here and there can change how well BYU does. If ALL great LDS players went to BYU, the potential for BYU to have great teams (and great seasons and BCS Bowl possibilities) increases significantly. If you consider that "blind" and "crap", you're welcome to that opinion.