Utah Sports Ruckus: College football in Utah has potential

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 8:50 a.m. MST

Utah running back James Poole runs against BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy during on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Last week, the Utah Sports Ruckus weekly column opened with a commentary on the state of college football in Utah, citing the recruiting rankings from the recent national signing day and other data to support its main thesis that college football in the state has “the flu of happy mediocrity.”

From the article: “What does a nationally relevant, national-title-contending program look like? Don’t ask the state of Utah. We don’t have one... It’s one thing to be mediocre; it’s another thing to be happy about it. It’s another thing still to be happily mediocre and yet continue to talk about national championships and national relevancy.”

Readers responded quickly and passionately, with a wide range of opinions. Ute and Cougar fans, of course, mined the article for points to use against their rival fans, with both sides convinced that the article supported their claim to rivalry superiority.

Many readers mostly agreed with the article; some offered their own analysis of the subject; a few were indifferent; and some were angered by it or found it too negative.

One such impassioned reader stated (edited for spelling and grammar): “So the fans of our Utah schools should just dump the system and their favorite teams and only watch "relevant" sports programs? It's kind of like your journalistic skills. You are in an irrelevant journalist market (as you define it) and apparently don't have the talent to get into the big markets such as L.A., N.Y. or Chicago, just as you suggest these student athletes don't have the skills to go to the NFL or win championships. Thus, like the sports teams you want us viewers to dump, your argument can be applied to you. Be careful what you're writing because you just might be writing about yourself.”

Ouch.

In reality, however, I made no mention of “market” size or market relevancy, nor did I encourage anyone to stop supporting or watching their favorite teams.

The article merely stated that according to data points like recruiting rankings, on-field results, bowl games and player placement in the NFL, “Our local programs, at this point in history, are much closer to where the national recruiting rankings place them on the food chain of relevancy than where many have believed, hoped or dreamed they were.”

Notable in that last statement is the phrase: “at this point in history.” I did not decree that there is no hope or potential for our local college football programs to become nationally relevant. To proclaim that would be inaccurate and presumptive. The seeds for greatness might be there, especially for Utah and BYU.

The thing is, whether you are a person or organization, to make real progress you have to be willing to do one of the most difficult things in life: analyze yourself honestly and acknowledge where you truly are. You cannot get to where you want to be if you deceive yourself about where you are.

If an ailing person is too stubborn, naïve, or proud to honestly acknowledge the facts and realities of his/her health status, he/she will likely never improve.

Whether a person is ill or not, I suppose, can be a matter of opinion. If a person is happy or content with his/her health, it may take a lot of poking and prodding from family members and friends — or in this case, fans — to get him/her to finally do something about it.

Sometimes a person’s health deficiencies may simply be a matter of genetics, in which case it is what it is and will not change despite a person’s best efforts. In that case, it is necessary to set expectations and goals that are more clearly achievable.

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