Comments about ‘Book remembers BYU's forgotten 1951 NIT champions’

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Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14 2011 8:00 p.m. MST

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Uncle Rico
Provo, UT

"the NIT back in the early '50s was considered more prestigious than the NCAA Tournament"

Not true Mr. Harmon. Look at the final AP poll from 1951.
Here is the final AP poll from 1951:

Final RankingPost-season Tournaments
2Oklahoma State
4Kansas StateNCAA
8NC StateNIT and NCAA
9St. John'sNIT and NCAA
10Saint LouisNIT
11Brigham YoungNIT and NCAA
12ArizonaNIT and NCAA
16Murray State

BYU lost to Kansas State and Washington in the NCAA tournament.
Don't try to sell that the NIT was better, it did not have a top 7 ranked team playing in it.

Louisiana Cougar
Pineville, LA

Joe Richey from that team contracted leukemia in 1992 but nonetheless served a mission with his wife in England where he passed away in 1995. I played Church ball with Joe on a senior team in Fresno, California. Though he was in his late forties with six children, he was still a terrific player and a deft passer and shooter.

More importantly, Joe Richey was a good and humble man who I respected tremendously. He and his wife, Sharon, were pillars in the LDS Church in Fresno, and each of their sons earned the Eagle Scout award and served LDS missions. I coached the boys in Volleyball many years ago.

I remember looking at the All-American plaque that was inobtrusively hung on the wall of their dining room, indicating Joe as a member of that distinguished group. Thanks for the memories!

Orem, UT

Kentucky (the AP #1 ranked team and NCAA tournament champion didn't even play in the NIT).

BYU had 2 losses in the NCAA tournament that year (yes they did play in both tournaments).

0 teams in the top 7 of the final AP top 20 played in the NIT.
How is it more prestigious?

PAC man
Anaheim, CA

It's hilarious how the haters come out of the woodwork to nitpick BYU's basketball history, yet they completely ignore the bogus claims about Utah's history.

In 1944,

Utah LOST as many pickup games

Fort Warren 59-61
Salt Lake Air Base 39-54
Dow Chemical 36-46

as Utah won real games

Idaho State 54-43
Colorado College 48-34
Idaho State 52-40

Utah lost in the opening round of the NIT
to Kentucky 38-46 (of course)

yet, Utah fans still claim that Utah won a national title by winning the 2nd rate tournament of the day, the NCAA

even though the Helms Athletic Foundation, the only national organization that selected national basketball champions from 1901 up until 1949

selected Army as the national champion for 1944.

Bleed Crimson
Sandy, Utah

Let's also not forget Utah won the NIT in 1947 (3 years after winning their NCAA National Championship in 1944).

Record books also show Utah won their first National Championship in basketball in 1916 by winning the National AAU Tournament. (Which was the premier basketball tournament back then).

Spokane, WA

@Uncle Rico. The NIT WAS as prestigious as the NCAA tournament in 1951. You are looking at one set of rankings, and saying that this refutes that fact. What would you say if you knew that 4 NIT teams REJECTED NCAA invites? How about the fact that the NIT had a higher number of ranked participants than the NCAA? Or that the NCAA tournament scheduled AFTER the NIT, because it knew that it could not compete directly with it. By your accounting, UCONN wouldn't be legitimate either. We should have just crowned Ohio State as National Champs. Because, you did know that there was no post-season poll in 1951, right? No, I didn't think so. You just have an agenda, to go along with your lack of information.

Spokane, WA

The NIT was as prestigious as the NCAA in 1951. First of all, several NIT teams REJECTED the NCAA. Secondly, the Utes on here are obviously don't know about this great BYU team. The NIT had a higher percentage of ranked teams than the NCAA tournament. The NCAA scheduled itself AFTER the NIT to avoid competing directly with it. There was no post-season poll in 1951. So the rankings don't mean a thing. BYU played in both tournaments---they played in the NCAA AFTER they played in the NIT. So, if Uconn lost in a SECOND post-season tournament last year, AFTER they won the NCAA, would they not be legit? Speaking of Uconn, going off of rankings alone, the Ute fans here would not count Uconn as the 2011 National Champions, because they didn't finish Number 1 in the regular season polls. You have to look at the media of the day. And in 1951, BYU was called "National Champion." So much for the Ute revisionist history.

Orem, UT

In 1951, the media crowned BYU National Champions. There were no post-season polls. Also, history is clear that the nit was at least considered equal to the NCAA tournament at that time. That's not really a debate. Unless of course, you are a Utah fan who does not want to recognize that BYU won a National Championship in basketball in 1951, that was more legitimate than the 1944 Utah NCAA title. You can no more say that BYU was not the 1951 National Champion because of their regular season ranking than you can say that Uconn is not the 2011 National Champion because of their regular season ranking. The nit was a National Tournament in 1951, therefore, its winner is a national champion. End of story.

Alpine, UT

Bleed Crimson

Even though Ute fans insist on pretending otherwise, the simple truth is Utah has won three national tournaments, but NO national championships in basketball.

Tim Flaherty
Gilbert, AZ

Can't wait to get my hands on the book. My late father, who was captain of the BYU football that year, was a roommate of Mel Hutchins. I remember him reminiscing often about Hutchins, Richey, and others on that team and how they captivated and electrified the entire student body during their championship run. It was, according to my father, a magical time and experience at BYU. Thanks for bringing to life the year (1951); the team; the championship; and, in a certain way for me, my father; with the publication of this book.

  • 7:15 a.m. Dec. 15, 2011
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Parry is a Farce
Layton, UT

"The Sacramento Kings selected Jerry Romney in 1952"

Pretty amazing since the Sacramento Kings did not exist until 1985. Maybe the Rochester Royals who became the Cincinnati Royals who became the Kansas City Kings, who moved to Sacramento?

Saint George, UT

My younger brother, Robert Craig, played guard on that 1951 BYU team. His son, Steven Craig, played the other guard on Danny Ainge's team later on.

An interesting note was a game that the 1951 Cougars played in Brazil that year. My brother, standing out of bounds at one end of the court, made a pass to Mel Hutchins, standing in-bounds at the other end of the court. The ball missed Mel and went through the basket. A plaque was later added to the spot from where Bob threw the ball, commemorating, "The Longest Basket in Brazilian History".

Old Timer
the boonies, mexico

Technology has given us all the ability to express our opinions publicly. What really is that worth? Could it have anything to do with todays indecisivness, inability to compromise, cause hard feelings, make people arguementive? Yes.
I would suggest to all of you younguns to read this book and pay attention to how competitive people treated one another, which was much more compassionate. This is something that is absolutely missing today. Argue, put down, dictate, be greedy that seems to be todays slogan for the 15-50 yr olds. Totally disgusting.

DEW Cougars
Sandy, UT

Those Trolls, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Don't you have better things to do?

We, Cougar fans, blah, blah, blah and blah are proud about this.

By the way, I did noticed this 1951 NIT Championship in the nose bleed section wall, is it on the rafter at all? Thanks for bringing this up Mr Harmon you blah, blah, blah, (nothing personal).

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

For BYU fans, I guess living in 1984 wasn't enough...now you're moving back to living in 1951.

Wayne Rout
El Paso, TX

In this era college players were college students who happened to be good enough to play a sport. Colleges did not recruit as much nor did they seek players that could not do college work in the classroom. Often "athletes" were passed up because of intelligence or character because schools had standards. Today, it is not even necessary to read or write to play college basketball if you are good enough. College sports have become semi-pro in basketball and football because these two sports earn the money to support the athletic department and bring donations from boosters. Which is better? I like the idea of players being students first. I think we have gone too far toward accomodating the "athlete" at the expense of the student.

Luv 2 Troll U
Sandy, UT

Mountain DEW Cougars, (isn't that against the honor code or something?)

You're funny.

Why is there even an article about this? It's been more than half a century ago. Nobody cares, just like BYU's AWARDED (not earned) 1984 NC.

-You're friendly neighborhood Ute troll.


I was in the seventh grade during this golden era. I got a little plastic radio for Christmas and would stay up late listening to the BYU games as they traveled the country. I have been a die hard fan of this wonderful basketball team ever since.

  • 9:01 a.m. Dec. 15, 2011
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Eagle Mountain, UT

unclerico and snowman;
I can just hear your squeaky little voices cracking in protest over another article about a superior BYU athletic team.
desperately trolling BYU articles is no way to go through life. Move on and learn to appreciate the truth.

Springville, UT

My dad, who was on that team but chose instead to serve a full-time mission that year, will probably not be included in this book, a book about the "forgotten"

My dad - father of 5 boys, father of 5 returned missionaries - former mission president (twice) - is my "national champ"

My dad...not forgotten.


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