Saturday, February 07, 2009

Final Post, Again

It is only coincidence that I am once again deciding to discontinue this blog almost exactly a year after I did so previously before reconsidering several months later. The reasons are very much the same, although I have even less time for non-essential writing than before before due to a demanding church calling.

One of the things I put ahead of writing about BYU sports is a desire to write about my autistic son, which I also mentioned a year ago. So, I have started a blog about him instead.

The reason I knew for certain that I could not continue with this blog was that I have felt some strong opinions about Manti Te'o's decision not to come to BYU. I had let go of them until I yesterday read an opinion piece by Matt Payne, who I presume is the same person who was the great punter for BYU a couple of years ago. Even as strongly as I feel about rebutting Matt's article (and am going to do it here), I don't feasibly have the time.

So, this is it. Last post, countering Matt Payne's view about the choices great athletes make.

Matt made an analogy to a person who wants to be a lawyer. If a person wants to be a lawyer, who are we to complain about him choosing to go to Harvard instead of BYU? By the same token, Matt posits that a football player should not choose BYU over Notre Dame because the latter regularly sends more players to the NFL.

There, however, is where Matt is wrong. An analogy only works if the situations are analogous. These two are not. People do not see law students competing on a regular basis nationally representing their schools. People do see football players doing that. Not only that, but the opportunities for success for a particular person in law can have a direct correlation to the school he chooses, regardless of his or her talents. Success in football is almost entirely decided on actual talent.

Schools like Notre Dame and USC send players to the NFL with more frequency than does BYU because they recruit more talented players from the start. When is the last time that Notre Dame or USC did not have a highly-ranked recruiting class? When is the last time BYU did?

Great players can go to the NFL from virtually anywhere, even from (formerly known as) Division I-AA schools. BYU has put its share of players in the NFL as well. It has even sent them as first-round draft picks. Two quarterbacks have won Super Bowls, and one has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. One may say, "sure, but those are quarterbacks". But BYU has had a linebacker (Rob Morris) chosen in the first round in recent memory. If Manti Te'o progresses as could be foreseen, he would certainly be regarded at least as highly as Rob Morris, and likely more so.

I do not pretend to know the full story behind Manti's decision to go elsewhere, so I will speak generally. When the San Francisco 49ers played the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl, I was impressed, and wondered what the general public thought, when not one but two offensive starters were announced with their alma mater, Brigham Young University. Steve Young and Bart Oates played on that team. Now consider an LDS player that eventually goes to the Super Bowl with any team besides BYU. It is true that some might wonder if a player is listed as having played at Utah. But the only school that people will automatically identify with the LDS Church is BYU. So, no matter how great an LDS player is, unless a fan follows that particular player extremely closely, he or she will not automatically make the association between that player and the Church.

Now, what if an LDS player never makes it to the Super Bowl? What of college achievements? If it is established that a player can make it to the NFL from any school if that person is good enough, then why not help the profile of the Church through the school that represents it? BYU does well with players that are, for the most part, not top-flight. What could they do if they had more players that were? I have said it before, and I will say it again, here, for the last time. All things equal, BYU will be more successful with more talented players. Again, I don't know the situation with Manti Te'o. In general, LDS players should do what they can to boost the position of their church. The best way to do that is to play at BYU.

Thank you again to those of you who have read this blog. If I decide at some point to write again, I will start a new blog and give the link here. I apologize if this last post is not very polished or cohesive. I have chosen not to spend any more time on it than simply to get the basic point across.