Friday, January 28, 2011

Not a Bandwagon Fan Here

I'm trying to get my head around what is going on in Utah Valley right now. Really, for the current generation, this is unprecedented, all of the attention and love that is being shown to a young man who plays for the BYU Men's Basketball team. The past 35 years have seen some heralded athletes come through Provo, mostly quarterbacks who fit in the BYU offensive system and throw for thousands of yards, get some conference titles, bowl wins, and one Heisman. But this, this Jimmermania, this is something else entirely.

Part of it has to do with the fact that it is happening at a time when something like Twitter exists. Five years ago, even, something like this wouldn't be possible. How would we have known that Kevin Durrant was as impressed as he was with Jimmer's performance on Wednesday night without the instant international access of Twitter? Jimmer is trending, as it were, at the best possible time... in more ways than one.

But what I want to focus on is just how much this phenomenon is affecting a Cougar fan like me. Someone who probably cares a little too much about BYU sports, whose mood swings with the success, or lack thereof, of the two main athletic entities from Brigham's campus. And so, I give you, my own personal story of Jimmermania.

Three years ago I was working at Saturn of Orem as a sales consultant. It was my job to sell cars to people who came by the showroom. However, people rarely came by the showroom, and so I had a lot of time on my hands. It was during this time that I really began to become a much closer follower of sports, due to the fact that I had hours upon hours to surf the web and read all about things like, well, college basketball.

I remember going frequently to ESPN's page on the Cougars' basketball team. The page was pretty simple, it had their record, schedule, and a picture of Jonathan Tavernari with his signature upheld clenched fist that he displayed anytime he made a 3 pointer. JT was the face of the program, although Trent Plaistead and Lee Cummard were also a part of the team and got some love from the basketball world. If I remember right, the starting point guard that year was Sam Burgess, a senior with a decent game who could create and get the ball to any of these 3 "stars" so they could score. I don't really remember much about watching Burgess play, but what I do remember is being really impressed by the freshman backup point guard.

We watched a few of BYU's games in the lobby there at Saturn. I distinctly remember one game noticing just how impressive the backup point guard was. I was impressed, among other things, but his build. He looked rock solid, with broad shoulders, and defined biceps that, next to the likes of Cummard and Plaistead, looked really ripped. He had a remarkable way of creating shots where shots seemed impossible, he would drive the lane, start going up one direction, and adjust in midair, coming under the basket, and around for these amazing layups. He didn't get a whole lot of playing time, but I remember thinking, this Fredette kid has a future. I can't wait until he gets more time on the court.

His sophomore season provided that extra playing time, and he took advantage of it, but again, he was still just part of a "Big 3," that year that included Cummard and JT. (By the way, is there any label more over-used in sports than Big 3? Can we just eliminate this from our vocabularies, please?) He continued to be impressive, and by the end of the season, we were all looking forward to seeing what he could do when more of the scoring responsibility would be on his shoulders.

Last season had some spectacular moments, like his 49 point game against ASU, and his first round game in the NCAA Tournament, but in a lot of ways, the season, failed to live up to expectations because of his health. He played a number of games with that long sleeved undershirt, and oftentimes looked pale and exhausted, but he still managed to do some incredible things. I especially loved the short-lived run that he got following their victory in the Tourney.

Now, though, now we are at a point that I don't think anyone could have foreseen. Having opted to come back to school for his senior year, even though he was told he could have been a late-first round to early-second round draft pick in the NBA last year, Jimmer came back.

And I don't think anyone could make a better choice about anything.

He owns college basketball right now. In a two week span he scored 47, 39, 42, and 43 points in consecutive games. Following that Utah game where he hit those remarkable threes and made his first Sports Center appearances, I wasn't sure what the future held for Jimmer and the Cougars. I could not have imagined that he would do what he has done. He has taken, not only the world of college basketball, but the world of athletics in general, by storm. An awe shucks, gee whiz, um, my teammates set great screens and get me open, storm.

And I am loving it.

I fully recognize the fleetingness of this. He is a senior, he will play only a few more games in a Cougar uniform, and then on to the NBA, and no one really knows what will happen there. I have no prediction, and honestly, I have no interest in trying to predict what his NBA future will hold, because the here and now is just so freaking awesome.

Yesterday I was literally walking around all day with a goofy smile on my face. I couldn't help but just feel pleased all day long. That has continued through today, and it's all because of Jimmer. Here he is, playing for my Alma Mater, for the school I have followed since I was old enough to understand what a basketball was, a school that has very little history in its basketball program. No, seriously, this is happening at MY SCHOOL! And the whole world loves him.

What is the best definition for "getting Jimmered"? I think it is something like this: To be totally worked by your opponent, and to want to give them a hug for destroying you because they are so likable.

Or something like that.

Anyway, no matter what the future may hold for this kid, and I hope it holds great things, because by all accounts he is the real deal, in talent, in humility, in charisma, in every way, he really seems to deserve the best. But for now, for this Cougar fan, he is the greatest, most unprecedented phenomenon in my own personal fanatic history.

And I've been with him from the start... and I welcome one and all to the Jimmerfest, come and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

He was just that hot

I know, there's no way to prove it, but I knew Jimmer was going to hit that near-half-court shot at the end of the first half. He had just nailed a 3 on the last possession with some of the stickiest defense being played against him. The Utes turned it over with 4 seconds to play, of course he was going to make that shot.

Of course he was.

Whatever happens with the Cougar basketball team for the rest of this season, tonight's game is one to remember. It's been a while since I have had so much fun watching a game from my living room. My poor kids always get so scared when I erupt after a play like that shot.

Go Cougs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flubs, Flukes, and Decisions

I correctly predicted via twitter that I would have nightmares about blocked kicks. And so it was. I can't get it out of my mind, that one play with time running out, that one play that lately has always gone BYU's way, that one play that would have been the crowing moment in Mitch Payne's BYU career... when the game should never have hinged on a play like that.

But it did.

Pretty much everything that can be said about the game has been said. There are the bright sides, like how Jake Heaps showed incredible poise in that final possession, moving the ball down the field reminding us of all the great BYU quarterbacks and their precision. As a fan, with very little understanding of everything that goes on in the strategizing of the coaches minds, I would have loved to see them keep pushing ahead, using the clock a little sparingly but still running it down, but getting closer to the end zone. I would have loved to have seen Heaps throw a touchdown pass to beat the Utes. That would have been so satisfying. And it would have felt right, the way a BYU game should end. Somehow we don't really equate big BYU last second wins with field goals...

Could the Utes have been more lucky in this game? The shanked punt that went off BYU and Utah recovered? The Brandon Bradley interception that ended in a (controversial) fumble? The flubbed handoff between Heaps and Quezada? And all the other breaks that went their way.

Really, this game meant very little for BYU's program. The season was already decided for the most part. They are going to a bowl game regardless (please not New Mexico, please not New Mexico), and the turn around of the team, both offensively and defensively, defines this season as a whole. That loss in Logan was a turning point for the young players and I think we can all look forward to next season with confidence that this team will compete.

Anyway, I will be haunted for a while by this game, it would have been so satisfying to win it, but ... ah!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Wow. The Boise State/Nevada game just ended.

So, today, among other things, BYU's basketball team won their game in double overtime with Noah Hartzock's buzzer beater. The Jazz took down the Lakers (BEAT LA!), and now this.

Two missed field goals within 30 yards.

And that pass/catch right before the first flubbed field goal...


And I'm most concerned about what I'm going to wear to work tomorrow. I probably won't get to see much, if any, of the game. It's a weekend I can't take off, I'm in retail, so I for one am not terribly disappointed the rivalry game is moving to September. I can watch it in September.

But, anyway, what I'm going to wear. I haven't worn a BYU shirt underneath my work shirt since the USU game. And things have worked out pretty well for the Cougars since then.

So, obviously, I feel like I shouldn't borrow trouble.

But it's the freaking rivalry game.

And Robert Johnson claimed that BYU cheats.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

What I'm Watching

I know, there has been a debate going on in some circles about whether a BYU fan should attend/watch the BYU vs. UNLV game or the Utah vs. TCU game.

I'll be there, in section 145 of LaVell Edwards Stadium, cheering the Cougars. I always wear the white and blue. I expect a great and entertaining game in Provo today.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jazz vs. Nuggets Blogging

I'm also a Utah Jazz fanatic. They are playing the first game of the season against the Denver Nuggets tonight. It's the third quarter. The Jazz are down by 25 with 9:31 to go in the third. The following are some of my musings:

8:53- Hair. AK's hair is like a baby's. It has that limp and floppy quality to it. Nene wants to be this guy.

6:19- Deron's feeling it. It's that LeBron commercial, what should he do? Not make commercials like this.

5:40- I wonder if Vegas has an over/under for Matt Harpring's use of "I'll tell you what" during a broadcast. Whatever it is, I'll tell you what, I'm taking the over.

2:40- I hate it when teams go on 3-point barrages against the Jazz. It seems to happen a lot. Um, you know, in past seasons.

4th Quarter

10:10- Elson gets the second put-back to go in. That's always nice.

7:40- How bizarre is it that Don Nelson has the most wins as an NBA head coach?

6:47- Wait a minute? Carmelo is still in the game? What are they worried about?

Commercial- My TV buzzes sometimes.

5:19- Earl Watson at the line. His name is Earl.

3:08- I guess I'm sitting the rest of the game out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Yesterday a local radio station was taking calls from people who claimed that they once were BYU fans, and now were UofU fans. One caller said something about how his entire life he has loved BYU, but BYU has not reciprocated that love. That BYU isn't about winning football games, they are about building young men into good people. Utah, on the other hand, is all about winning. So, therefore, this dude was going to switch allegiances and become a Ute fan.

Good riddance to you, bandwagoner.

In fact, anyone at all who is even considering whether they should switch their fandom from BYU or not, for whatever the reason, I say, Go! You were never a real fan anyway.

Being a fan is so much more than cheering for a team when they're winning. You bleed with your team. You feel, oh how you feel, all of the ups and all of the downs, with your team. But you stick by them. Even if you're not happy with them, you stick by them. You may call for things to shake up within the organization, you may be critical of them, you may even scream at them that their offense needs to play with heart like the defense (at least that guy isn't switching his allegiance, even if he is nuts). But the thing that remains is that you still cheer for your team. You still watch their games and you suffer when they lose.

And when they eventually come around again, and they will, you know they will, the satisfaction is so much more because you were with them in the trenches when things were terrible. The thrill of cheering for whoever is winning at the time has all the satisfaction of an imaginary spouse. It's nothing compared to a real relationship.