Loyal Cougars

Dear Bronco: Sorry. It’s not you. It’s me.

Hi Bronco. Thanks for calling me back. Yeah, I know. I said we needed to talk.


First of all, I’m sorry about this. I feel bad to say this. I write for a website called Loyal Cougars for crying out loud. But, you know in The Simpson’s Movie where Marge is telling Homer she feels like she just can’t keep overlooking all the crazy stuff he keeps doing? Marge is really sad. Marge wants it to work.

I feel like Marge.

I’m not saying it’s all your fault. I hate Monday Morning Quarterbacking decisions. I don’t want to nitpick. I believe you’re working hard and doing your best. It’s a cliché, but, really, it’s not you. It’s me.

My concern isn’t just my growing belief that the future will not be different than the past. My worry is that increasingly, I’m seeing my friends—die-hard fans I have watched for years passionately follow and cheer and travel for BYU—coming to same conclusion.

I’ve had friends, twenty-year-season-ticket-holder friends, who called me over the summer saying they weren’t going to renew their tickets for 2014. “No,” I said. “You’re crazy. Taysom Hill alone will be worth the price of admission. This will be a good year.” I’m worried how that conversation is going to go next spring.

If you want an example of one of these BYU friends, look at Zach Bloxham. He’s a die-hard, hard-core fan. At the center of the article Bloxham posted today is this blunt assessment: “Bronco, my faith in you is being tested. The program must improve.”

So, when I say, it’s not you, it’s me, that’s what I’m talking about. Any fan that believes they’re going to win every game is a fool and bound for disappointment. But fans have to buy into what a program is doing.

Even if they don’t believe that they are going to win every game, do they believe the coach leading their program maybe someday could? Do they believe the CEO of their team has a vision and a plan and the capability to execute it? Is this the right person to lead us? Are we getting better?

Believe me, I take no joy in writing about what feels like BYU’s worsening chances. After watching the 2011 season, I wrote that fans still should believe in Bronco Mendenahall.

“If one of these years gets the right breaks, and just another good year in the Top 25 turns into the kind of year that the magic, flaw-covering wand of greatness waves over Bronco, I think fans will sound somewhat ridiculous if they have to say, “Coach, we knew you got your team ranked 12, 14, 15, 21 and 25, but we never thought you’d make top 10.”

It’s getting harder to make that argument. The idea that, “Oh, Bronco was close all those years and just got a couple bad breaks no one could have seen coming,” for many is turning into “It’s always something with Bronco’s teams. If it’s not the offense collapsing under the guidance of the coordinator that was just handed the offense, it’s the defense collapsing under the guidance of the coordinator that was just handed the defense.”

I worry that BYU fans are becoming like the Red Sox fans in Fever Pitch, who lovingly said of their team: “They don’t just lose; they raise it to an art form.” Ask almost any BYU fan and they can rip through a set of heart-wrenching and unfortunate (and mostly home) losses from the last five years. One year we’re losing even without giving up a defensive touchdown and two years later we’re losing making every quarterback we play look like an All-Star.

The repetitiveness is what’s really driving this, I think. It’s taken two years and a new staff for the program’s offense to recover from what happened on their last trip to Boise State. Now, just when the offense is fixed, we suddenly have what S&P rates at the worst defense since at least 2005.

Can you fault fans for wishing the coach that has shown he can put nationally-elite defenses on the field was still coaching defense? Or at least that handing the defense over to someone else hadn’t gone exactly as poorly as it did last time?

I worry that the catastrophes seem for many people to be outweighing the victories. So, right now, it’s still about me. Right now, it’s still about how much these other fans and I are going to keep believing in and paying to watch a Bronco Mendenhall-coached team.

Maybe those of us that feel that way are going down the wrong path. Maybe we’ll all be proven wrong. Right now, it’s about us. Right now, there are still five games left to play and there is time left to right the ship for this year and prove us wrong.

Maybe we can talk again in January, ok?

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