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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.
THE UNGA SIDE
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.
THE BYU FOOTBALL SIDE
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.