Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Fan's Opinion on Coach Bronco Mendenhall

Let me start by saying that this is just my opinion. I am happy to allow anyone else theirs, so I hope you will put up with mine.

I have sat by patiently waiting for someone else to speak up, and maybe they have, but I haven't seen them. I'm a BYU fan and have been for as long as I can remember, which in my case is a long time. Back when I first started following BYU sports no one cared too much about football. Basketball was king. As a BYU freshman, I spent many nights in the Fieldhouse waiting in line for tickets to the next basketball game. The games were always entertaining even when we lost. President Wilkinson would come out at the start of the game and got down on the basketball court to do push-ups. This always got the crowd worked up since he could usually do more than most of the students could do.

Football season back in those days was an afterthought. Beating Utah was not really something we got too worked up about because, frankly, we rarely beat them. We got excited when we beat anyone. My freshman year of 1970 we played and lost to such powerhouse teams as Western Michigan (35-17), UTEP (17-0), New Mexico (51-8). We did beat North Texas (10-7), Utah State (27-20), and Wyoming (23-3), however, and ended the season with a glossy 3-8 record, not quite as good as the 6-4 record of 1969, but a significant improvement on the 2-8 record of 1968.

Then, of course, Lavell Edwards came along about the time I returned home from my mission and things changed. Not quickly, but there was change. We generally started to win more than we lost: 7-4 in 1972, 5-6 in 1973, 7-4-1 in 1974 with our first bowl appearance, and then 6-5 in 1975. Three out of four years having a winning season was almost too much to handle. But we got used to it and Lavell and his teams got better.

There's no point in my repeating what happened over the next few years, because you all know. We won a lot of games. We also occasionally played a team from one of the power conferences and won a few of those, but we lost more than we won. We got to bowl games, but we lost more than we won. Still they were pretty good years all and all. Still, there were the down times.

The year after winning the national championship, we lost three games. Two losses were against power conference teams UCLA and Ohio State (Tangerine Bowl). Against UCLA our defense couldn't stop the Bruins from driving the length of the field with only 1 minute left in the game even though we were playing here at home in front of a very noisy home crowd. Against Ohio State, our vaunted offense never got untracked. In both games we were right there and could have won. But then there was UTEP.  In the middle of that same 1985 season we went to UTEP and played a team that hadn't won a game, a team in last place in the league, a team we were supposed to cream...and we lost. It happens. I don't remember anyone calling for Lavell's head that season.

So, this brings us to the present and Coach Mendenhall. Just to be upfront let me say that I have never met Bronco even though I walk the same campus he does every day. I guess I should get down to the practice field more often, but going down the hill is not so easy for me anymore. I've got bum ankles. But even though I have not met Bronco, I have a deep respect for him and what he brings to the BYU football program. Yes, I like to win. And yes I can gripe about the officiating and the coaching right along with the rest of the fans. But you won't hear me complain about Coach Mendenhall.

In my role as a professor at BYU, I have had a lot of football players and athletes in my classes over the years. I teach sections of some very large general education classes. During the Lavell Edward's period I annually had coaches call me to see if I couldn't help with a student's grade or if I couldn't perhaps let a student take a test that they had missed or if I couldn't just give some extra credit. I had players come to my home in tears to plead for a better grade so they could continue to play. I watched as star players seemed to ignore the honor code and no one cared. Allowing those students to get around the standards that every other student committed to live always felt wrong. It was wrong, and I am glad that we have moved past that era.

My point in all this is that during the Bronco Mendenhall era, I have never had a coach call me, I have never had a football player come to my home to cry for a better grade, and I have never had one miss a final exam even though I still teach the same classes.

I get it that fans want to win every football game, but I am tired of the senseless, derogatory way that many fans behave. No one knows more keenly than Coach Mendenhall that in college football you have to win games to keep your job. This season has been rough and there are things that need fixing. I am confident that he will get them fixed and my vote (as meaningless as it is) is that BYU will keep him around for a long time to come because he not only knows how to win, he knows what it means to represent Brigham Young University. If we lose that, then there is no point in having a football team.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

All in the Line of Duty

As some of you may know, I have been recently a guest on the ISP Network's popular show Yesterday! You can read the transcripts of those shows here (First Appearance) and here (Second Appearance). I was there, not only to promote my candidacy for the 2016 Presidential Election, but to lend my expert advice to the show's host, Mr. Ichan S. Plurg who was interviewing Dr. P. P. Phraan. Dr. Phraan claimed that he had discovered several guaranteed ways to lose weight. Well, as a scientist I took exception to some of his claims and he, in turn, challenged me to try them. So, as your future leader, and as a scientist, I took the challenge and agreed to try whichever diet Dr. Phraan selected, assuring him that none of them would work to any great effect.

Well, it was perhaps a mistake to agree to let him pick the diet. He chose the "Butcher's Diet", which for those of you who missed it on the Yesterday show is Dr. Phraan's diet where he recommends that you cut off part of your body to lose weight. He suggested I might want to try having my head removed, but that, to me, seemed a bit drastic. But not wanting to lose face with my loyal followers and fans, I moved forward and selected a part of my body that seemed to be the least necessary and, more importantly, the least painful to remover. It was a lump that had been growing on my side for some time. When this lump first appeared, I had hoped that it might develop into an extra limb or at least an alien baby, but for several years now it has just seem to languish as a lump.

The first step in this "Butcher's Diet" of Dr. Phraan is to visit your local, I mean surgeon. I got a recommendation of who to go to from my housekeeper (I assure you she is not here in America illegally, at least I don't think so). She claimed this doctor had never seen lost anyone yet, and of course that interested me right away because I was hoping to not lose anything so that I could prove that Dr. Phraan was a phraud...I mean, fraud.

The doctor's office was clean, not too much moaning could be heard from the back rooms, and he had that flying house moving playing on a big screen TV, you know that one I'm talking about with the old man and the boy scout and the dog and the big bird and the balloons. Anyway, my turn eventually came up to see the doctor. He took a look at my lump and in less time than it took me to climb the stairs to his office determined that he could remove it in 10 minutes–maybe 15 minutes tops. It would be easy in-the-office surgery with only local anesthetic.

I liked the sound of that except for the part about the local anesthetic. I am not a big fan of pain and prefer not to be awake when I am being cut up. Nonetheless, I returned a few days later and laid myself out on his operating table expecting to be home in time for my mid-afternoon snack. I had, of course, weighed myself carefully before the procedure and was planning to weigh afterwards to see how much, if any, weight I had lost.

The operation began cordially with me making small talk and the doctor, working alone, preferring to remain silent. I began to worry a bit when, as he approached to give me the anesthetic, he said, and I quote, "You're going to feel a little pressure." I thought, of course, that he was making a joke referring to Brian Regan's skit on going to the doctor, but he was deadly serious. About forty minutes into my 10 minute operation, the doctor called for backup. The removal of my lump consisted of the doctor cutting and pulling and cutting and pulling and squeezing and pulling and me screaming that I needed a bit more anesthetic and more cutting and pulling and then after about an hour he sewed me back up having removed the lump along with about three quarts of blood. He had to get his PA to dig my fingers out of his operating table. I have included a photo of the aftermath for those of you who may not believe what I am telling you. Please keep women and young children away from the viewing screen–this will be fairly graphic.

The downside of all this is that I did indeed lose a little weight, about half-a-pound, and so I could not gloat and proclaim Dr. Phraan a fraud, even though he still is a fraud and I will continue to try to prove it.

The good thing is, however, that I proved to all of the voters that I am a man who keeps his word. I made a promise and I kept it. I also learned that there are some promises you should not make and that sometimes when you need a surgeon, it might be better to go to the butcher. I am confident that the butcher could have had that lump out in 10 minutes or less.

You can read more about my 2016 Presidential Campaign in these earlier blogs:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Another Raccoon!

I will have to admit that I am getting pretty good at this raccoon trapping business. On my first attempt, as you may have read earlier, I caught a kind of albino raccoon (see above). You can read about it here. Heady from this early success, I reset the trap a couple of nights ago only to be disappointed. Something–I suppose it could have been a raccoon or a hungry neighborhood child–got into the trap and ate all the bait. It was a nice piece of chicken. I almost ate it myself.

So, once again I set out my Havahart © trap with a fresh leg of roast chicken from Harmon's in it. And, lo and behold, I caught another one. This one was again not quite what I had been expecting. The coloring was a bit off. It was all black and white, but at least it didn't have a strong odor to it, as I have been warned some varieties of raccoon have. No, it looked somewhat like the first one, but with different coloring (see below).

So, the racoons continue to wreak havoc in Utah, particularly in my back yard where they ate 3 lbs of birdseed out of one feeder in just one night. The Deseret News even had a story on how destructive they are.  And KSL ran a story on them as well. This is no laughing matter, I tell you. Well, I've put the trap out again tonight. If I catch another cat, I'm thinking of switching to Costco roast chicken instead of Harmons.