Vai's View: Vai's View: Jake Heaps situation, Part II

Published: Friday, Nov. 4 2011 10:00 a.m. MDT

In this file photo taken Sept. 23, 2011, BYU Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) throws against UCF in Provo. BYU won 24-17.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives

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"There are no original ideas."

— Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

I try to read three newspapers online every day — The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News for work and the Deseret News for pleasure. In writing last week's column, I did not know that the Salt Lake Tribune's Gordon Monson had written and was the first to suggest that Jake Heaps transfer to Utah. I consider Gordon a friend who grew up in the East near where I now live, so I want to acknowledge his column. I read Gordon's column after mine was posted and while we agree on the basic premise, I do feel I added a little more to make my argument.

Sorry to disappoint those of you looking for a retraction or an apology.

The person owed one is Gordon, whom I called and offered a personal apology this week. I also make it publicly here. Sorry, Gordon. It was an honest mistake that I didn't acknowledge your column.

Gordon was a gentleman and waived it off. He wasn't even aware of my column. I suppose it could have easily been Gordon making the same mistake since he didn't read my piece and I wouldn't have been offended any more than he was. Besides, who's to say two columnists can't share similar opinions on similar issues?

Having said all that, I stand by my column and my opinion.

A few posted righteous indignation that I'm advocating quitting, cutting bait and running, or not staying to see something through to the end. Worse, that somehow my position is at the heart of Occupy Wall Street and the high divorce rate. That's jumping the shark, don'tcha think? Relax, folks.

To those, it seems they've conveniently overlooked the fact that four current BYU starters, quarterback Riley Nelson, linebacker Uona Kavenga, safety Travis Uale and defensive tackle Loni Fangupo all transferred from other places for a variety of reasons, including a log jam at their position at their first choice. There are a handful of others on the team who transferred to BYU for a host of reasons but aren't yet playing. And every year, a handful transfer away for some of the same reasons.

I'd be hard-pressed to call any of them "quitters." They came to BYU seeking opportunities to maximize their talents because for whatever reason, their previous schools weren't the right fit. It's the same reason some guys leave BYU. It was that way when I was there and will continue to be that way as long as BYU is involved in college sports.

Two summers ago, BYU senior Loni Fangupo married my first cousin, Rebekah Wolfgramm. Loni's grandfather and my dad were boyhood friends in Tonga, so I'm close to bride and groom. At the wedding, I kidded Loni that it was a shame he wasn't a Cougar because they could really use him. We shared a good laugh, but he was surrounded by a bunch of his USC teammates, which is why I made my comment in Tongan.

Fangupo only played sporadically at USC, but it was an attempted burglary at his apartment while Rebekah was home alone that compelled him to transfer to BYU. I suspect he's playing more at BYU than he would have at SC. His former Trojan teammate, Uona Kavenga, is also making an impact at BYU that he didn't at USC. No one's complaining that we've taken on USC transfers who quit on the Trojans — because they didn't.

Coaches make mistakes on players every year and in fact, occasionally encourage and even help players transfer to other places because it doesn't work out. The vast majority of college athletes find the transition from high school star to D1 more difficult than they ever imagined.

Once reality sets in and they're resigned to that fact, most are happy just to be a part of the program and if wise, take full advantage of being on a "full-ride." But there's always a small group of players who, frankly, would be better off taking their talents to a school where they might flourish.

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