As I was making the rounds for some high school football previews this past week, I had the opportunity to talk to Fremont High head coach Kory Bosgieter.
And he made a statement which, I'm pretty sure, every coach in American can definitely relate to — and agree with.
"You know, we're a lot smarter when we've got better players," he said, only half-joking.
Truer words, as the old saying goes, were never spoken.
In 2010 and 2011, Bosgieter guided his Fremont High football teams to back-to-back appearances in the 5A state finals. Lopsided losses in the title games to Bingham and Lone Peak, though disappointing, did not diminish what the Silver Wolves had accomplished during those two seasons.
Then there was last year. Without the type of stellar performers the program possessed during its dynamic runs to the finals in 2010-11, Fremont struggled through an uncharacteristic 1-9 campaign.
It was painful for this proud program, its players, parents, fans and especially a guy like Bosgieter, who's an extremely hard-working coach and an intelligent, football-savvy guy who definitely knows what he's doing.
And it's highly doubtful that Bosgieter and his staff were really any better coaches in 2010-11 than they were in 2013. In fact, most coaches will tell you they learn a whole lot more from losing than they ever do from winning.
But the bottom line is, the Silver Wolves had better football players during those two glory-filled years, and it was certainly reflected in their results.
No matter how good the coaching staff might be, without the right players, the won-loss record is still going to suffer. And sometimes, it will suffer greatly.
Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan was always the first guy to tell you that his job was made a whole lot easier when he had guys named Stockton, Malone and Hornacek on his Utah Jazz roster.
Even for a fiercely competitive guy like Sloan, winning became much more difficult when the Big Three weren't suiting up for the Jazz any more.
University of Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham can certainly relate to that type of situation.
When the Utes had quarterbacks named Alex Smith and Brian Johnson, plus some standout receivers and running backs who could make plays and dynamic defensive units that could stop their opponents from doing the same, they busted the BCS — twice — and put together undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2008.
Utah's situation, of course, is made more complicated by the fact that, since that time, they were invited to join the Pac-10 — and hey, who wouldn't? — and go up against a league that has become a Pac-12 gauntlet, which is much, much tougher to navigate than the Mountain West or Western Athletic conferences ever were.
Is Whittingham as good a coach now as he was in 2008, when the Utes went unbeaten and blasted Alabama in the Sugar Bowl? Absolutely, probably even better, because I'm sure he's learned a few things over the last five-plus years. It's not like he suddenly got dumb and forgot how to coach.
But after enduring back-to-back losing seasons the last two years, there are a lot of folks out there who are saying Coach Whit and the Utes had better have a winning season and get to a bowl game this year, or else he could lose his job.
Hopefully, that's not true, and I think it would be a mistake if it was, ’cause the guy's a terrific football coach. There's no doubt in my mind that, eventually, he'll turn the Utes' program into winners again. And into a Pac-12 contender, too.
Heck, he just needs more time, plus more patience from fans who might've grown disgruntled.
And, of course, to start looking a lot smarter, he just needs better players, too.
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