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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poll Results: What is the best BYU football game?

There was a four way tie for the poll question, "What is the best BYU football game?" The Holiday Bowl against SMU in 1980, the Miami game in 1990, the Cotton Bowl against Kansas State following the 1996 season, and the Oklahoma game to open 2009 all received 20% of the vote. The Holiday Bowl against Michigan in 1984 received 13%, and the rest of the votes went to the 1989 BYU-Utah game. Thank you to all who voted.

Don't forget to vote in the new poll, "Who will lead BYU in rushing in 2010?"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Closure to Harvey Unga's Career

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I can't say that I am surprised by the outcome of the Harvey Unga situation, even with my recent post. With the way that the media reported Unga's withdrawal, I think everyone was hoping that he would be allowed to come back. Nevertheless, I can't fault BYU, in particular the Dean of Students, it is a very sticky situation that I would not wish on anyone. I won't say definitively yes or no this was the "right" way for BYU to handle this situation. Only those with all the information in this case could properly judge. Assuming the best case scenario where Unga was willing to do everything necessary to correct his behavior and any harm it may have caused, then this could have just boiled down to the positives of Unga coming back in September were outweighed by the negatives.

Unga definately finds himself in a precarious situation now. With the NFL draft gone and rookie mini-camps and OTAs already underway, his chances of making an NFL team this year are very slim. The supplemental draft is coming up this summer, but teams don't normally select players during this draft since it will cost them a draft pick the following spring. Harvey was projected as a late round draft pick had he declared for the draft in Januray, so I don't see teams lining up for him now. Then again, it only takes one. As I said before, I would like that one to be the Redskins. I like Mike Shanahan's track record with the Broncos for developing late round and free agent running backs into 1,000 yard rushers. Former Cougar Andy Reid might make space for Unga in Philadelphia. Come to think of it, there might not be a draft in 2011. The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement with the player's union is at a stalemate, and, if you believe the reports, the 2011 season is in jeopardy. This may increase Unga's chances for the Supplemental Draft, or it might just mean that taking whatever free agent offer he can get is better than what would transpire in 2011, even though he would have more time to work out for teams and then come into the organization on the same timetable as every other rookie. While Unga was wrong to do what he did to break the honor code, I am hoping that he can move on and find success at the next level. If not, his degree is still very attainable.

It was going to happen some day. Unga was going to run out of eligibility and BYU was going to have to replace him. Bryan Kariya, J.J. Di Luigi, Mike Hague, Joshua Quezada, and Drew Phillips will now have all summer to get all the reps and to know that they will be the running game. It is comforting to me to know that Kariya, Di Luigi, and the coaching staff had less time to prepare to play without Unga in the Oklahoma game last year after he pulled his hamstring in Fall camp, and BYU still won that game. BYU lives by the pass and dies by the pass. This year will be no different, even if Unga was coming back. Therefore, whatever the drop off in talent, experience, leadership, and ability that exists between Unga and the others will not have as much of an impact as the drop off in quarterback play in 2009 and quarterback play in 2010. Each of the five running backs listed above can be key contributors this year. For now, perhaps, the best thing we can do is keep reminding ourselves that BYU has won 10+ games in a season, has won conference championships, has been nationally ranked, and has beaten Utah before Harvey Unga suited up, and before BYU had 1,000 yard rushers in the backfield. There is no reason to be pessimistic at this point.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running Back Harvey Unga Denied Readmission to BYU, Now what?

April 16 and May 19, 2010, will go down in infamy as tragic days in BYU Sports history. The former date was when both Harvey Unga and women’s basketball player Keilani Moeaki withdrew from school for violating the Honor Code. Today, May 19, BYU has announced that Unga and Moeaki cannot return to school any earlier than January 2011.

Unga is the all-time leading rusher for BYU. His leadership was expected to anchor the 2010 squad that looked to replace consensus all-american tight end Dennis Pitta, three time all-MWC quarterback Max Hall, and several key defenders.

The long month between the initial announcement of withdrawal and today’s announcement of the final decision has provided time to reflect on how 2010 might be without Unga. While there is nothing like having a known commodity, the rest of the running backs in the stable have plenty to offer.

Bryan Kariya, Jr.
Bryan Kariya started the first game of 2009 when Unga was out with a pulled hamstring. In that game against Oklahoma, Kariya turned heads with his power running inside the tackles and with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and run in the open field.

J.J DiLuigi, Jr.
J.J. DiLuigi is a quick back who came on strong at the end of last year. Defenders will have a hard time bringing him down. He will be an asset to the passing game with his elusiveness. Isolating him in the slot or matching him with a linebacker out of the backfield could lead to several big plays.

Mike Hague, Jr.
Mike Hague’s 87-yard touchdown run in 2006 is the longest run for a BYU back since 2003. While his playing time has been limited, he has the potential to be a big time back if given the chance to play.

Joshua Quezada, Fr.
Joshua Quezada signed with BYU last December and enrolled this Januray to get a jump start on his career. He caught every one’s attention during spring practices. His reps will be limited in the beginning while he finishes to learn the pass blocking schemes. Ronney Jenkins holds the record for rushing yards by a true freshman (733). If Quezada comes close to or exceeds this number, he could unseat Unga as the all-time leading rusher by the time his days in Provo are done.

Drew Phillips, Fr.
Drew Phillips will be an incoming freshman this fall, but he already has a lot of hype. He is from Alabama and runs a 4.39 40. With speed like that he is sure to see the field in some capacity this year. Like Quezada, he will have to learn blocking schemes and make the usual freshman adjustments from high school to Division 1 football.

I give my best wishes to Harvey in his future endeavors. This is a tragedy that no one wanted. His experience and leadership can’t be replaced. However, these five backs should produce enough collectively for BYU to win a minimum of eight games in 2010.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poll Results: Will Harvey Unga Play for BYU in 2010?

The poll question "Will Harvey Unga play for BYU in 2010?" set a new record for voter participation. Over 2/3 (68%) of voters think Harvey Unga will play for BYU this year. Thank you to all who voted.

If you have not voted already, take a minute to give your opinion on "What is the best BYU football game?" If you think a game not listed is the best, leave it in the comment section. After the poll closes, I will do a top 10 list of the best games in BYU football history.

Monday, May 10, 2010

LeGarrette Blount's 2009 Punch Helps BYU in 2010

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I am not going to get into the details. If you are here, then you are probably well versed in the Harvey Unga situation. If not, here is a link to get you started, and here is a link to what I wrote previously. You can also google Harvey Unga and get filled in pretty quickly.

I think that the only thing stopping Unga from being readmitted and playing in 2010 will be getting his ecclesiastical endorsement. As I understand it, his readmission to BYU is contingent on the Dean of Student allowing him to return to finish his degree without going through the normal readmission process (Unga withdrew in April, which is after the deadline for new student applications for Fall semester). The Dean of Students will not take into account any Honor Code indiscretion. With that being the case, I believe that the Dean of Students is aware of that readmitting Unga in the fall could create a negative perception of a double standard at BYU. However, I don't think BYU cares much about the small contingent of people who will use this as another bullet in their anti-BYU/anti-Mormon arsenal.

BYU sees the big picture, and has for a long time. Doctrine and Covenants 121 teaches that authoritative figures should use love and kindness, not unrighteous dominion. That is the principle behind allowing former players who broke the honor code to return to BYU and to the football team. I am referring to players who did not self report their honor code violations, but were forced through an honor code investigation to confess their shortcoming and pay the penalty. Harvey Unga is already one step ahead of them. He voluntarily confessed his mistake and withdrew from BYU.

While the behavior and conduct of all athletes is being punished and scrutinized more frequently, the public perception of what is appropriate discipline is changing. To see how the public perception is changing to be more in accordance with D&C 121 and why Harvey Unga in BYU blue this fall is not a great threat to BYU's reputation, we have to look no further than LeGarrette Blount and Michael Vick.

Blount is the former Oregon running back who punched a Boise State player at the end of their game September 3, 2009. Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly promptly suspended Blount for the rest of the season. Kelly later shortened that sentence and Blount returned to the team November 9. Kelly and Oregon saw that Blount had learned his lesson and continuing his suspension was excessive.

Michael Vick's situation is well known. I will not rehash it here, except to point out that the time he spent in prision was much shorter than it could have been and that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could have exacted a heavy suspension after Vick was released from prison. The way it turned out, Vick was suspended for just two games. While the initial public outrage to what Vick did was huge, by the time he took the field most people supported his return. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach, and mentor to Michael Vick, Tony Dungy stated on the Dan Patrick Show that 95% of the feedback he had received on Michael Vick was positive.

Discipline is supposed to develop individuals not damage and destroy them. Excessive discipline can have a negative effect, and leave an outcome that is the opposite of what was intended. The sports world is realizing this through LeGarrette Blount, Michael Vick, and now, hopefully, Harvey Unga.

I will say it again. If Unga is able to get an ecclesiastical endorsement signed for Fall semester 2010, BYU should readmit him. That ecclesiastical endosement signifies that the one who is qualified to judge in this situation has decided that Unga has learned his lesson, has paid his price, and that any additional punishment is unnecessary.

I am not saying that BYU should look to Oregon or the NFL for guidance on how to handle this issue. If it isn't clear enough above, Oregon and the NFL are following the example of BYU that has long been ridiculed by some, but others are starting to follow more and more. BYU's primary goal is to help its students grow in all facets of life. BYU wants to send students out into the world who will change the world and make it a better place. Harvey Unga has a better chance to do both of these things if BYU readmits him so he can finish his degree and play out his eligibility.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Poll Question: Best BYU football game

Although the "Will Harvey Unga play for BYU this year" poll is still open, I am posting a new poll for you to vote on: What is the best BYU football game?

If you think the best game is not listed, vote "Other" and leave a comment with the game you think is the best.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Schedule

Now that spring practice and the NFL draft are behind us, we are entering the summer season where very little happens. I don't plan to go into full hibernation mode, but I expect that I will post less frequently (besides the lack of news, I will be focusing more time on upgrades to the blog, and my wife and I are trying to close on a deal to purchase our first home). Here is what you can expect:

1. News and thoughts on the Harvey Unga situation as it develops.

2. News and thoughts on the possible conference expansions.

3. News and thoughts on the starting quarterback situation.

4. Regular opinion polls.

5. I love studying the history of BYU football and have some posts about interesting things I have noticed.

6. I will be ready to go full speed when the season kicks off in September.