Jim Harbaugh has had success with former Ute and Cougar quarterbacks


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  • Cougar Passion Riverton, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    I will try to be as kind about this as possible in case Todd Mortensen reads it. I feel the reason Todd did not succeed in football at BYU is that too much of his focus lay in other (admittedly admirable) areas. Todd played the most critical position at BYU. I feel that a person in that position either needs to give that sufficient focus during his years in the program, or step aside so another quarterback can be brought in. Quite simply put, Todd should have been prepared to beat out younger quarterbacks in the program as BYU languished.

    I have a son who may be good enough to play another sport in college. He is also very good at a musical instrument, as Todd is; we don't know which path--sports or music--he will choose yet. I am already telling him that if he is not willing to give sufficient focus to the team to which he is recruited *and counted on* for success, he needs to decline the offer to be part of that team.

  • Mr.Reality Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    Hard to believe that there people who still doubt Alex Smith. Unbelievable. Finally, on a decent team, with the whole thing on the line, what does he do?
    He orchestrated two of the greatest drives ever seen.

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 19, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    @Rational - I don't think Harbaugh made Smith, or vice versa. I think Harbaugh effectively managed the talent he saw on the team already better than anyone else has been able to do. Smith didn't get to be a better passer simply because Harbaugh is the coach now, and the same goes for any player on the team. Smith's always been a good QB, but the Niners haven't always been a good team. A good QB is only as good as his receivers (which were lacking when they picked up Alex) and his offensive line (also non-existent for most of his tenure there so far.) Not too mention the carousel of coaches and offensive coordinators that have cycled through the past 7 years. Much of the Niners talent has been there for a while now, but Harbaugh's been the one to bring it together and point it in the right direction.

  • BigUtahFan BOUNTIFUL, UT
    Jan. 19, 2012 8:37 a.m.

    Oh Dnews....tell me more about this fellow, Mortenson. I'm so intrigued by him. What is he doing now....?

    What a waste of my time.

    The same y fans that called A Smith a bust are now cheering him on? That makes me sick.

    To the poster that compared Smith to Ryan Leaf...Are you kidding me? Go brush up on his career and compare it to Alex. Wikipedia's back up so check it out.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 19, 2012 8:35 a.m.


    And yet here you are. Must be a glutten for punishment.

  • Howard S. Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 19, 2012 7:47 a.m.

    In a week where the spotlight is on Harbaugh and Smith, the DN finds a way to make it about BYU.

    Who says the DN's world doesn't revolve around BYU?

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 11:08 p.m.

    An Aesop fable describes a dog lying on the hay in a manger who growled and snapped at the cattle as they attempted to eat from the hay - making impossible for them to eat. Of course, the hay was no potential food to the dog, but he selfishly wanted it only for himself.

    Reading the posts in this discussions reminds me a lot of the fable. We have Ute fans that can't live with the fact that an article about Harbaugh's coaching abilities doesn't focus solely on Alex Smith. Meanwhile, Cougar fans can't stand it that anybody doubts Todd Mortenson's greatness as a quarterback or doesn't genuflect in front of a shrine to Steve Young. Heaven forbid that a writer doesn't praise one's team like an in-house PR hack.

    What I got out of the article (column, actually, i.e., opinion) is the Jim Harbaugh is a great quarterbacks coach who also happens to be a consummate head coach. As one wise person pointed out previously, for a columnist from Salt Lake to get a personal interview with Alex Smith during the NFL playoffs is highly unlikely. Mortenson was available and therefore got more ink. How is that showing disrespect to Smith?

    Maybe we can all take a deep breath, relax, and possibly - in some cases - grow up.

  • TroyTown Anaheim, CA
    Jan. 18, 2012 10:49 p.m.

    Oregon Ute

    "The guy had a great coach and some skills, that's why he did as well as he did. He didn't and wouldn't have received that coaching at the Y. Be realistic Kid not myopic."

    I suppose all of those Best College Quarterback, Best Passer, Heisman Trophy winning, National College Hall of Fame quarterbacks from BYU were all just naturally talented and didn't require great coaching from BYU coaches. Get over your myopic, crimson-colored view of the world, you only make yourself look ridiculous.

    On the other hand, name me one single Utah quarterback who has ever won a national individual college award of any kind.

  • Oregon Ute Hermiston, OR
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:49 p.m.

    To: Dixie Kid.
    Are you kidding me? You are ripping on a guy who wouldn't have even got a sniff from the NFL if he hadn't gone to San Diego and been coached by a great coach. You say this guy has no arm yet he played for NFL, European, Canadian and Arena football teams. The guy had a great coach and some skills, that's why he did as well as he did. He didn't and wouldn't have received that coaching at the Y. Be realistic Kid not myopic.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:49 p.m.

    Cougars1, phoenix, et al.

    As a Cougar fan I think Steve Young was the 2nd best Cougar QB ever. If McMahon played for Bill Walsh instead of the most overrated coach in history, he'd have a ring for every finger.

    That said, we do not yet know what Alex Smith will accomplish in his career. It isn't over. If he ends up in the HOF, so be it and good for him. That doesn't take away from Young, threaten his legacy nor the legacy of BYU QBs.

    And for those whining about the article including a BYU QB, I'm sure Alex Smith's ego isn't so fragile that he is threatened that an article about Harbaugh also has a BYU connection. Take his lead. Many of we Cougar fans are rooting for Smith.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 8:52 p.m.

    ok, just beat this Giants (NY) and get the ticket to superbowl! Enough on comparison on my sill talk stuff.

    Go 49ERS!

  • pabellon Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 6:52 p.m.

    As I recall, Mortensen was accepted into Law School at the Y but transferred before the year started.

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 6:02 p.m.

    I saw the picture of Harbaugh when I picked up the sports section and expected to see a nice article about Alex Smith, a guy who a lot of local fans really care about and want to read more about in view of his team's great success and his performance last Saturday. Then I see the article is all about a former BYU QB.

    Doesn't the Deseret News staff think they write enough about BYU? A daily dose from Dick Harmon, pictures and teasers almost daily on the front page. It just never ends.

    I would really like to see an in-depth article about Alex, all he's been through, and his successes this year. Should have known better than to think I'd get it with the DNews. Thanks, Doug.

    Guess I'll finally bite the bullet and change to the Trib. Putting up with their liberal garbage is worth at least getting some equal coverage for the Utes in the sports section.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 4:57 p.m.


    What gave you the impression the Dnews wanted to talk about alex smith? It seems to me they wrote an article about Jim Harbaughs success improving qb's and were able to get Mortenson to agree to an interview. My guess is smith is not doing many interviews this week as he is occupied with game prep.

    But thank you very much for giving me another LOL as it is always fun to witness utah "fan" insecurity and juvenility.


  • phoenix Gilbert, AZ
    Jan. 18, 2012 4:19 p.m.

    Alex Smith is a decent QB, but to try to place him at the same level as the myriad BYU QBs who won Sammy Baugh, Davey O'Brien, and Heisman awards for their outstanding achievements on the college gridiron is silly.

    Nothing Alex does in the NFL will improve or diminish what he accomplished at the collegiate level.

  • Cougars1 Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 3:20 p.m.

    Alex Smith is not now,and never will be comparable to Steve Young. We shouldn't even be comparing the two. Steve would be done with his 40 while Alex was still waiting for the clock to start. Please stop comparing the two. Alex is a great qb, and Harbaugh has been smart enough to take advantage of his strengths while giving him the time he needs for his confidence to rebuild after the 6 years of garbage that he went through. Here's to hoping that Jim and Alex get the 49ers a good start on the next 5 rings.

  • SportsFan Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 3:19 p.m.

    AZ Dave

    "Isn't San Diego Torero's "small college" the same college that byu basketball plays"

    Nice try.

    Ever heard of Georgetown? Pretty good basketball program! "Small college" football program.

    Besides, didn't the Utes LOSE to the Toreros last season?

    Until the Utes stop losing to DII Adam's State and barely beating NAIA San Diego Christian, by 3 points, U'd be wise to lay of the basketball smack. An already pathetic rundown Utes basketball team just lost their only half decent player.

  • Just the FAX Olympus Cove, Utah
    Jan. 18, 2012 3:12 p.m.

    Papa Smurf UTE

    Get over your big brother jealousy. Is your ego really so fragile that you can't stand having any BYU player discussed in a positive light?

  • AZ Dave Chandler, AZ
    Jan. 18, 2012 2:56 p.m.

    Isn't San Diego Torero's "small college" the same college that byu basketball plays

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 2:17 p.m.

    The Mortenson story was good...very interesting. But Papa Smurf is right, this is Alex's and Jim's week...perhaps the next three weeks.

  • Monk Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    @Swoop @DEW Coug @TJ. Do you really think this was a spots good article? Read my comments again. My "sour grapes" have nothing to do with BYU as a sports program. Todd Mortensen seems like a nice fellow. Simply put: I am unhappy that the headline lead me to waste my time . That's all. We should all grow up and quit sniping at each other.

  • Papa Smurf UTE Herriman, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    I love how the Des News wants to try and talk about an ex UTE player in Alex Smith, but they just have to metnion something about a Y player doing something first, that they think is bigger and better than what Alex is doing with the Niners. Let me remind you, Alex is 1 win away from a Super Bowl berth, and has only thrown 5 int's all year. Mortenson did this at a small college. Alex has had 7 OC's in as many years as he has been in a league, with no O line to block for him up until last year. Mike Singletary screwed up his team, made Alex the scapegoat, and about ruined his career. Fortunately for Alex and his family, Jimmy boy came in and coached him up, letting him know that he was behind him 1000%, and whatever he did was alrgith with him. Nolan and Singletary were jokes. No wonder they are no longer head coaches. Thanks Des News. Next time you want to talk about Alex Smith, maybe write the article on Smith, and not an ex Y player.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 2:01 p.m.

    Steve Young was crazy to run all over the place which is why I loved him after watching Marc Wilson drop to his knees all the time.

    Alex Smith did run to a leading touchdown on Saturday too.

    We'll never know how good Alex was in college since they Utes were undefeated and blew away the Fiesta Bowl. Alex never met his match. But, just seven years after the Fiesta Bowl he is in the NFC Championship. (Wiki is down so I don't know how long it took Young to get to the NFC Championship.)

    I'm betting, if we give Alex as much time as Steve Young got with a coach almost as good as Bill Walsh...you may not say he's no Steve Young.

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Razzele2 - nothing personal on you. Yes, born and raised in the Bay Area or Marin County. I went to BYU in 1979 and finally Joe Montana & 49ers beats Dallas Cowboys which I believe it was 1981 (Wikipedia is down today).

    Remember Steve Young would throw up before the game in college and in nfl (I believe every time)? He would have threw up on Mike Singletary no problem.

    Alex Smith was so so and Robbie Bosco was worse (not mobile on Robbie). Steve YOung was crazy to run all over the place and too bad he had a conconsion (once or twice during his 49ers time. USFL was a joke and Tampa (after Steve left LA Express) was like the 49ers for the last two years with Singletary. You are right, Steve Young wouldn't do well w/o Bill Walsh and Jerry Rice and company. All I can say now good luck 49ers on Giants.

    I do remember about Todd Mortenson, he is doing great with his career. Good Luck Todd.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 11:27 a.m.


    Remember Steve Young's career at LA Express?

    You mean where under Coach John Hadl he led them to the Western Conference finals and passed for 300 yards and ran for 100 in the same game? That Steve Young?

    You're probably thinking of the Tampa Bay Steve Young who had a QB rating of 63.1 vs his rating of 101.4 with the 49ers.

    Up, down, up -- depending on coaching and teammates.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 10:56 a.m.


    Did Harbaugh make Smith this year, or did Smith make Harbaugh? I think nearly everyone would say Harbaugh made Smith, 1st rounder or not. (Ryan Leaf anyone?)

    The point of the article is just that: Harbaugh has done it at every level, with multiple QB's, and there are similarities between Smith and Mortensen (intelligent guys who blossomed under an intelligent, supportive coach).

    I'm happy for Smith, Harbaugh and Mortensen.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    I am not ranting on Harbaugh. He is a great coach. He am just saying Alex Smith was/is lucky to have Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh as coaches. But, so did Steve Young with LaVell Edwards and Bill Walsh.

    Four of the best coaches ever.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    Thanks for establishing how important the coach is to a quarterbacks success. When the coach offers little constructive suggestions and openly is criticall of the quarterback, other players catch on and that quarterback is not effective. It is too bad that some local teams do not have that kind of talent coaching. Had they been effective in handling their talent, those teams win lots of games over good talent and hold on to their good players. They see it as their job to build a group that pulls together and develop players to do better and better. When coaches fail to have the vision of their role the team, players and fans all suffer.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    DEW Cougars "Alex is no Joe Montana or Steve Young, they knew how to do QB on their own. I am a big 49ers fan for many years and those seven years were too long."

    Remember Steve Young's career at LA Express?

    Steve Young would not have done any better than Alex Smith under the circumstances with Mike Singletary's coaching.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    Go back and look at the post game shows with Singletary's ranting. See how he tears down his team especially Vernon Davis. The offensive line wouldn't protect the quarterback and the coach seemed to encourage it, Alex Smith and Troy Smith had no offensive pocket. How could anyone do well in that environment? Any change in coach would be a great improvement to the team. Harbaugh knew he was sitting on a gold mine with this job.

    DEW Cougars - A long time 49ers fan? Really? Did you watch the self implosion of Singletary's career?

  • Whoa Nellie American Fork, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    Does anyone know for a fact if BYU has coaches who game plan? Or is everything based on executing (something) at a higher level? From past coach-speak comments during the last six years I can't remember hearing the words "execute" and "game plan" together. I like Bronco but my questions are serious.

  • CrimsonUte Pocatello, ID
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:15 a.m.

    Oh, stop crying about sour grapes from Utah fans.

    The headline says, "Jim Harbaugh has had success with former Ute and Cougar quarterbacks," but most of the article is a biography of a guy named Mortensen that most BYU fans probably barely remember. A more appropriate title would have been "Ex-BYU backup Mortensen's success in life, and Jim Harbaugh's minor role in it."

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:08 a.m.

    I think this article gives too much of Alex's credit to Harbaugh. Don't get me wrong, he's an awesome coach, but I don't think he had to "transform" Alex Smith. Smith was a 1st round draft pick for a reason, and his lackluster career in the NFL has had more to do with the shoddy management and mediocre roster of the Niners that have plagued that franchise for the past decade, than it does with his ability as a QB. What Harbaugh has done is show all the naysayers what he's probably seen all along: Alex Smith is a talented QB that's never had the opportunity to shine, because the rest of the pieces of the team weren't there.

    I do take issue with this article being titled as a piece on Harbaugh, when clearly it's a "What Mortensen's up to these days..." retrospective.

  • motorbike Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    Monk, I have to agree with Swoop here. There's no reason to complain about the DNews favoring BYU over Utah in this article.
    We all know Alex's story, this article was about Harbaugh. I found it very interesting what Harbaugh did with another QB this state knew.
    As a Ute fan, I just don't understand your frustration with this article ... let's don't make everything about the rivalry.

  • TJ Eagle Mountain, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Great Article.
    Grow up Monk

  • DEW Cougars Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 8:39 a.m.

    Very Simple Monk.

    Both Urben Meyer and Jim Harbaugh knew how to direct Alex Smith. Alex is no Joe Montana or Steve Young, they knew how to do QB on their own. I am a big 49ers fan for many years and those seven years were too long. I was surprised 49ers kept him around and seven OC changes were strange. Two TDs in less than 4 minutes of plays was the first for playoffs (to what media has said). Good luck against the Giants (NY).

  • Swoop Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 8:31 a.m.


    Seriously? More jealous whining for the hill crowd? The article is about the success Harbaugh has had working with a variety of quarterbacks. It's not about Alex Smith. Get over your inferiority complex already.

  • JoeCoug OREM, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 7:45 a.m.

    Very enjoyable article, Doug. Thank you.

  • Monk Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 7:34 a.m.

    Seriously? Alex Smith gets mentioned in passing in the last paragraph? Harbaugh's real football success is with Smith. I am glad Todd Mortensen has had some success in his post football life. But, Smith is in the NFC championship game this week! You can only give him a couple lines?
    This is all too typical of the Deseret News. Anything from the 'U' is automatically deemed inferior or less than worthy of attention. Smith is the real story here!

  • The Dixie Kid Saint George, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 6:40 a.m.

    Even I could do well at San Diego. Mortensen could not play D1 ball. It has nothing to do with who is coaching him. The guy had no arm at all. It's a lot easier to complete passes against slow DBs.

  • BYUHOCKEY American Fork, UT
    Jan. 18, 2012 12:12 a.m.

    that's the great concept folks are missing..."a great coach". that's the ticket. great article. thanks. i am happy Heaps will have great coaching now in Kansas.