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Lance Armstrong Confession: What He Must Do to Save His Legacy

January 17, 2013

LanceArmstrongI have always agreed completely in the belief that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  Until there is undeniable proof, or a confession from the accused, then I will always give the benefit of the doubt to the accused.  Such is the case with Lance Armstrong.

I refused to listen to any of the naysayers until he either tested positive, or Armstrong himself admitted it.  It isn’t that the accusers weren’t credible as much as that they all had enjoyed great success courtesy of Armstrong, and now that they stood to benefit more from selling him out they were more than willing to do so.

Now that Armstrong has confessed (though to what degree we won’t know until tonight) all of the previous accusers are vindicated to some extent, and Armstrong will forever wear the title of cheater as opposed to champion.  I honestly don’t care that everyone else was doing it.  That has never made anything right.  He cheated and he deserves to have all of the honors stripped from him that he acquired dishonestly.

I also see nothing wrong with previous sponsors filing lawsuits; though it isn’t like that will hurt Armstrong at all as the guy has more money than he knows what to do with.  Taking away his pride is likely the only thing that would hurt him, though his incredible arrogance may make that impossible.

I have met Armstrong on multiple occasions and always found him to be ungrateful and arrogant.  He had an air of superiority that shadowed over even those in his entourage.  All of this is not news to anyone as it is well documented that he has ruined the careers, and in some cases lives, of anyone who crossed his path and accused him of cheating.  Sadly, there is really nothing he could possibly to fix any of those problems.

That being said, there is something that he could do to save his legacy, at least in some small degree.  He could help to fix a sport that is more riddled with doping than probably any other on earth.  He is in a unique position to benefit from doing what is right, even though it may be difficult.

It reminds of the movie Catch me if you Can that featured Leonardo DiCaprio as a young check fraud artist who is being chased by a FBI agent played by Tom Hanks.  At the end of the movie DiCaprio’s character ultimately leaves his life of crime to work for the FBI helping to prevent check fraud.  The irony is that he ultimately ends up becoming a multimillionaire courtesy of the banks that he had previously spent years defrauding.

If Lance Armstrong wants to recover even a tiny bit of his legacy that is exactly what he must do.  He must come out and explain exactly how he beat the system for all these years.  He needs to show the doping agencies where their weaknesses are and how they can fix them.  He needs to put forth a genuine effort to fix the sport that made him a household name.  The only way he can repair all of the damage that he has done is by doing his best to fix the system so that those who play fairly can compete on a level playing field.

Not all of this would have to be public.  If he were to start publishing the names of people who helped him cheat he would be just like the people who tried to burn him, but he can certainly report those people to higher powers and explain exactly how he was able to take advantage of the whole system to become an international superstar.

Lance Armstrong has done a lot of good in the world.  Helping to raise roughly a half a billion dollars for cancer research is definitely worth some appreciation.  There will forever be people who will be Armstrong haters and admirers no matter what he does.  However, the vast majority of people would look on him with a much more favorable light if he would go contrary to his character and work to make sports more clean and fair, as opposed to only doing what will be best for him.  The irony in this case is that those actions happen to be one in the same.

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BYU Football Accepts Mid-Year Enrollee, QB Billy Green

January 15, 2013

In the never-ending news world that is college sports, Bronco Mendenhall announced last night the BYU has been joined by Seattle prep QB Billy Green.  Green is a mi-year enrollee following a highly successful high school career including an 11-1 senior season.  Green is a two-time All-State First team athlete.

BYU appears to have a very solid group of quarterbacks with Taysom Hill, Ammon Olsen, and Tanner Mangum(who is currently serving a mission).  It will be interesting to see who wins out over the next five years or so.

More information can be found about Billy Green from the Deseret News here and here.

BYU Basketball: Josh Sharp the True Unsung Hero This Season

January 6, 2013

Josh SharpSports are such a funny thing.  Especially in this day of social media and constant coverage.  Athletes can go from relative anonymity to national stardom courtesy of YouTube and Twitter.  Despite the possibility of instant notoriety, or perhaps because of it, some of the hardest workers and most valuable players don’t get a lot of the credit that they should.

Such is the plight of Josh Sharp this season, though he doesn’t seem to mind the lack of credit.

To start the season all of the talk was about Brandon Davies and how exciting his senior season would be, and he lived up to the hype.  That hype was quickly joined with the hype around the stellar play of Tyler Haws who has exceeded all expectations following two years away as a missionary.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all totally warranted as both players have had great seasons to this point.  Davies has stayed out of foul trouble for the most part and provided an essential focal point for the BYU offense, as well as some impressive defensive play that often gets overlooked.  Haws effectiveness has been incredibly impressive scoring from inside, outside, and everywhere in between including putting up 42 against Virginia Tech which is the most in a game for anyone in college basketball this season.

More recently Matt Carlino has been getting a lot of credit, and once again, it is merited.  For the most part, he has played under control, focusing on actually running the offense, and not just trying to impress.  He still has moments where you question what he was thinking, but for the most part his growth has reaped quality results.

So it’s easy to see why someone who had a freshman season in which he averaged 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds could get easily overlooked.  But, Sharp has dramatically improved his game, and is having an impact that not many would have expected.

Sharp’s stat line is definitely improved averaging 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this year, including a stellar performance against Loyola Marymount where he recorded 12 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive end.  That is what is most impressive about his play.

He is one of those hard-working players that works for every minute that he is on the floor.  He fights and pushes for every point, every rebound, and every second chance.  The type of stuff that never shows up on a stat sheet.  The type of stuff that every coach dreams about.

Every team needs a player or two like Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies to rack up the stats and make the headlines.  They also need a Matt Carlino to run the offense and keep everything flowing.  But maybe even more important is having a handful of role players that can fill important minutes and grab important rebounds.

Extending possessions can make all the difference in the world come March, and Sharp is the kind of hard-working player that can make that happen.

Robert Anae to Return to BYU as Offensive Coordinator

January 4, 2013

Robert AnaeI really don’t know what to think about the news in the headline.  When I first saw it in the Deseret News I gave it about as much credence as I did all of the rumors about BYU joining the Big East, Big 12, etc. that have popped up in recent years.  After looking around a little more it looks like the rumors may very well be true in this case.

Twitter is abuzz with people commenting on it, and the Salt Lake Tribune is making it sound more like it is a done deal than just the maybe that the Deseret News offered.  Not Surprisingly, the BYU athletics website is incredibly slow right now, likely inundated with other people curious to find out what is going on.

My first reaction was to question Bronco Mendenhall’s sanity because it was certainly not happy circumstances that led to Anae leaving in the first place.  It is probably a little excessive to say that I was happy Anae left, but I certainly was ready for a new direction.  Like many BYU fans I had grown tired of his predictive play calling, and some of the incredibly questionable decisions that he had made.

On the other hand, I was also quickly reminded of the success that BYU had while Anae was the offensive coordinator.  Success that has been missing since his departure.  During the six years that Anae served as offensive coordinator BYU finished the season unranked only once, and that was his first season 2005.  That was also the first year that Mendenhall replaced Gary Crowton, and with the mess he was handed, I remember being relatively content with the 6-6 record they finished with.

Anae was also responsible for mentoring John Beck and Max Hall to very successful careers at BYU to include the winningest QB ever at BYU in Hall.  Along with those quarterbacks were a couple of incredibly successful tight-ends in Jonny Harline, and Dennis Pitta, who is currently the starting tight-end for the playoff bound Baltimore Ravens.  Not to mention the incredible success of Harvey Unga, who’s career ended too early at BYU.

Since leaving BYU two years ago Anae has been the offensive line coach at Arizona where he assisted Rich Rodriguez in running a top ten rushing offense.  Judging by the overwhelmingly positive remarks from Arizona fans who are sad to see him go, you would think BYU fans would be excited for the return of Anae, but the reactions are wildly mixed.

I have no problem with the perception that Mendenhall is admitting he was wrong.  One of the most important traits of a great leader is to know when you are wrong and admit it.  The reports that Anae’s original departure was largely due to personality conflicts with the now retired Coach Reynolds lead me to think that this rehire may actually be a good thing.

What ultimately happens to Brandon Doman is an interesting issue in and of itself.  If I was him I would likely want to move on with my career elsewhere.  I just can’t imagine it being a good thing for you to work under the guy who you replaced.  Not that they aren’t all adult enough to do it, but it just seems like a mess waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next fall to see if this, and any other changes, will reap the benefits we so desire.  The one thing that all BYU fans can agree upon is that the offense needed a major change because the status quo just wasn’t going to cut it.  Maybe this is exactly the kind of seemingly crazy move that BYU needed to make to get back to their former glory.

Kyle Van Noy of BYU Reminds Us of Everything That is Right With College Football

January 2, 2013

Kyle Van NoyFor those college football fans that weren’t aware of the stellar defense at BYU, last week’s Poinsettia Bowl may have been a little bit of an eye opener.  At the forefront of that defense is Kyle Van Noy who had a career game in what may have been his last as a Cougar.

What I am sure most people have forgotten is that Van Noy’s career at BYU almost never got started.

Shortly before he was to sign his letter of intent with BYU, Van Noy was pulled over for a DUI.  This appeared to end any chance of playing for the Cougars and their well-documented honor code.  Van Noy submitted his letter of intent anyways, along with an apology letter to the coaches.

Bronco Mendenhall offered to let Van Noy retract his commitment and go play elsewhere immediately, or to wait one year before enrolling at BYU.  To his credit Van Noy decided to wait the year and honor his commitment.

In the modern sports world filled with egos and people looking for instant fame and fortune it was refreshing to see both sides set a higher standard.

Upon enrolling at BYU, Van Noy still had to prove his worth before even being allowed to wear the number he wanted.  Once again he showed his true character and determination, ultimately earning back the coaches’ respect and receiving the number he wanted.

Like many BYU fans, my first real introduction to Kyle Van Noy came at the Ole Miss game last year.  He secured that win by forcing a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.

While the win-loss record has not been incredible since then, Van Noy and his defense have been one of the best in the nation.  They ended this season as the number three defense in the country.  That includes taking now number one Notre Dame to the wire, and holding perennial runners Georgia Tech 200 yards below their per game average.

To further add to his legacy, Van Noy is also responsible for mentoring his roommate Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah who is poised to be a first round pick in April’s NFL draft.  It is so awesome to see someone with Van Noy’s talent remain humble and gush over the abilities of his teammate and friend.

That is what most impresses me when it comes to Van Noy.  In every interview I have heard or read he is completely humble, quick to credit his teammates, and always putting the team first.

While this type of character is not very common in the modern sports world it is really no surprise seeing it come from Van Noy based on his history.

During the broadcast last night they mentioned how Bronco Mendenhall is in football for the mentoring aspect of it more than just the money and winning.  It is evident that he is succeeding when you see him help a young man go from getting a DUI before he is even old enough to drink, to leading a top defense, and putting himself in position to be drafted into the NFL.

I was thrilled to hear the news this week that Van Noy will be returning for his senior season because he has shown us everything that is right about college football: turning young athletes into men.

Notre Dame Considering Platooning Their Quarterbacks Next Season: Bad Idea!

April 14, 2011

I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of Notre Dame and never really have been, at least not since I have been old enough to really assign my fandom.

Despite my sincere love of Rudy and the Knute Rockne story I just can’t find any love for the school as it is currently structured.  Lou Holtz was a great coach and I have great memories of his time leading the golden domers, but that was a long time ago.

As further evidence of the completely jacked up status of Notre Dame football, they are still unwilling to name a starter and according to coach Brian Kelly they will likely use multiple quarterbacks this season.

Now if there is a college football fan at any level, anywhere in the country that thinks this is a good idea please let the other 99.9% of us know and I am sure each and every one of us can give you an example or two of why this is a bad idea.

As your new partners in independence, we BYU fans would be happy to share our experience from last year so that you will not suffer through the misery that we did early last season.

BYU spent all of spring and fall last year trying to decide on a quarterback to no avail.  Then the BYU staff had the brilliant (insert extreme sarcasm here) idea to have their two quarterbacks platoon for awhile until someone earned the starting job.

It appeared not to be a terrible idea as BYU won their first game and didn’t look too bad, though it should be noted that Washington was nothing special last season.  This lulled the coaches into a false sense of security that would prove to be their demise during the first half of the season.

After that first win BYU went on to lose five of their next six games.  The lone victory was a thriller against San Diego St. and honestly I am not sure how they won.

Fortunately for the team, and unfortunately for him, Riley Nelson got injured in the third game.  The reason BYU was fortunate is that the injury forced their hand.

There really was no decision for them to make, but they now had only one quarterback.  That means one person taking the reps with the first team offense, and one style for the rest of the team to get used to.

The results were not immediate as BYU lost 3 of their next four games, but the value proved huge after that.

After getting totally embarrassed by TCU, BYU went on to win five of their next six games, and the one loss easily could have been one, but that is a different debate.

BYU now has a defined number one starter and the prospects are looking bright.  There is reasonable hope that BYU could get back to double digit wins and really surprise some people.

So to all of the faithful Notre Dame fans out there, I would strongly encourage you to use phones, emails, letters, or even posters to get Brian Kelly to make a decision.

No good will come of the indecision, and your misery will only be deepened.

2011 NFL Draft: St Louis Rams and Detroit Lions Show Successful Draft Strategy

April 8, 2011

It is no secret to anyone that pays much attention to the NFL that the Detroit Lions and the St Louis Rams have been two of the worst franchises in recent years. 

During the 2008 and 2009 seasons they combined for a whopping five wins; including zero wins in 2008 for the Lions, and only one for the Rams in 2009.  That’s right, two teams in a combined 64 games and only five wins.

The upside to going through such dismal seasons is that you get to pick very high in the draft, and these two teams seemed to have found a system that at the very least is leading them in the right direction.

In 2010 the Rams game within one win of going to the playoffs, but ended the season with a 7-9 record, and the Lions finished the season at 6-10 which isn’t too bad after three total wins in the two previous seasons combined.

There are so many factors that play into any team’s success that there is no way to look at all of them in one short article.  However, there is something interesting about each of these team’s first round draft picks that other teams near the top of the draft may want to consider.

Over the last three years both teams have drafted a quarterback, a defensive lineman, and an offensive lineman with their first picks in the draft.  It is hard to argue with the improvement that these two teams have had during this time.

 Sam Bradford has adapted nicely to the NFL game, as expected. 

It is hard to quantify the value of solid offensive linemen, but as was so beautifully shown in the recent movie The Blindside, teams have quickly come to realize how valuable they are, and how essential they are to a successful team.

Chris Long has had a great impact on the Rams in his three years tallying 17 sacks and five forced fumbles, and his numbers continue to improve each season.

Ndamukong Suh had as much impact as just about any rookie can have on a team.  Suh’s rookie campaign included 66 tackles, 10 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble; leading to him being named the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Matt Stafford has shown great ability thus far, but dealt with multiple shoulder injuries last year that left everyone wondering how many games the Lions could have won with their starter there for the whole season.

Sam Bradford performed as advertised in his rookie season recording more than 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns.  He too was named Rookie of the Year, but on the offensive side.

As a team they have both moved from the absolute bottom of the league in points allowed and points scored to now ranking near the middle of the league in both categories.  In 2010 both teams improved by more than 100 points in both categories.

Only time will tell if these teams will continue their improvement, especially now that they aren’t picking at the beginning of the rounds, but it is clear that they made some great picks in the past.

As teams prepare for the upcoming draft it would serve them well to look at the vast improvements of these two teams and consider the types of picks they will make.

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