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Dick Harmon: As BYU ponders, critics show their true feelings

Published: Friday, Aug. 27 2010 10:52 p.m. MDT

If BYU is so concerned about its public image and mission to deliver positive messages, why has the past week brought so much criticism to the school?

If increased exposure is at the top of the list of BYU's priorities in considering going independent in football, is it worth the name-calling the school has received, especially from some around the league?

BYU must believe, yes, it is worth it.

In Fort Worth, columnist Jennifer Floyd Engel (in Texas, you use three names) asks, just who does BYU think it is? "Has Touchdown Joseph really been planned for LaVell Edwards Stadium?"

Ouch.

Engel declares BYU has "not gone to a single BCS bowl or really done anything except be a sometimes foil to the real juice of the conference, Utah and TCU."

Engle writes the Cougars have "delusions of pigskin grandeur."

In Laramie, longtime friend and colleague Bob Hammond at the Daily Boomerang found it easy to declare BYU has a double standard and lacks integrity by writing, "There is no respect and no honesty" in the way BYU dealt with the WAC behind the MWC's collective back.

In San Diego, longtime columnist Nick Canepa wonders if BYU leaves the MWC, who will Aztec fans hate? The headline on his column read: "BYU's arrogance won't be missed," and his final line is, "unhappy to see BYU go? Not me. Ciao."

It is interesting to note the paragraph before Canepa's final thoughts: "The thing about the Cougars is that they draw, both home and away, and that means money out of pockets for the smaller fry such as State."

And that is at the crux of all this drama during the past week. BYU is looking to take advantage of its draw and its assets. When you do that in the business world, feelings get hurt. Stuff happens.

This BYU journey of discovery has bent some people and dented its image. These are opinions seated in the fabric of the league and they've been there since the days of Jim McMahon and Danny Ainge.

I've been to those opponents' stadiums and arenas for decades, hung out in the portals and snack bars, and this sentiment is real. It's likely no different than what you see opponents do in other parts of the country, whether it be the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys.

No, I'm not saying BYU is the Yankees or Cowboys.

But when you win and succeed, you become a target.

Also, tie your school to a religion, and your moral ground will always be questioned.

This anti-BYU regional strain is part of what has kept BYU from successfully lobbying for change in the current league TV contract when taken to the MWC board of directors, the university presidents.

After this past week, does it really matter if those who have always called you a slang word for a body part just add another insult with another slang word for a different body part? Probably not.

But piling up ill feelings doesn't further the cause, does it? No question, BYU's reputation has taken a hit this past week.

BYU is contemplating its fate in athletics after a lot of study and research. It is doing what any of the remaining league schools would do if they had the same assets.

BYU's perch reminds me of several quotes from respected Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Wrote Lewis: "Justice means equality for equals and inequality for unequals."

There comes a time when responsibilities as a caretaker of some valuable property counterbalances the desire to be loved. That's where BYU finds itself this weekend.

Wrote Lewis: "Our instincts are obviously in conflict. The satisfaction of one demands the denial of another."

But let's face it. Until this issue is resolved, BYU and its loyal ally in a plan to go independent, Utah State, are a duo taking a beating.

They stepped in a dirty pond of liars, deceivers and alleged back-stabbers and swam a few laps.

Now to find redemption, BYU has to produce something extraordinary out of this mess. The word I keep hearing is it will, just wait.

Again, in the words of Lewis: "We are all fallen and all very hard to live with."

A press conference with some good news can't come soon enough.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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