Those of you who know me have probably already heard this one. In 1990 Ty Detmer, a Junior at BYU won the Heisman trophy. BYU fans were justifiably proud of Ty and of their team. What followed his graduation after the 1991 season is what I really want to talk about. In 1992 my wife and I got season tickets to the BYU games. They have a neat student section...there is none. The students are sprinkled throughout the stadium, and not just in the cheap seats. Each game your seats are rotated randomly throughout the stadium. through the season I witnessed a very negative and destructive phenomenon. This phenomenon gave me a unique perspective to human nature.
Ty Detmer is to BYU what Kellen Moore is to BSU (only not as good...had to make that clear). John Walsh had the unfortunate task of following behind Ty. As I sat in the stands over the next four seasons i witnessed a phenomenon that disgusted me and taught me a valuable lesson. Since we were never around the same fans twice I also learned that this phenomenon was not just a few bad apples either.
I'd love to have a simple name for the phenomenon, and maybe someone else knows just what to call it. Right now I call it the "post-greatness-letdown phenomenon," but It went like this. Everywhere I went, there was nothing but criticism of John Walsh. He wasn't fast enough. He held the ball too long. He was flat footed, etc. My wife and I routinely heard chants calling for the backup quarterback (if I remember right, Steve Young's younger brother was third string, and Steve Clements was the backup). It was kind of gross, and didn't sit well with me at all. The Mrs. had to scold me a couple of times for telling some loud mouth or another to shut up and sit down. You know...the guy who thinks that if he yells at the sideline and tells them what mistake was just made that the coach will finally get wise. It's really because he thinks it impresses those around him with his football knowledge. It just touches a nerve, and if you've ever played, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
John Walsh wasn't half bad really. He eventually led BUY to a top 15 ranking, a 10-3 record, and a Copper Bowl win over Oklahoma in 1994 i believe. But he got so much negative response that he left school after his Junior season to enter the NFL draft. Not because he was a prospect (went in the 7th round I believe), but because he just couldn't take it anymore.
Steve Sarkisian followed Walsh, and although he started a full four years after Ty Detmer, he wasn't given much regard either. He was even better than Walsh, amassing some amazing stats if you really take them in context. And he had the greatest football mind of his generation of QBs. He's now a highly regarded Head Coach at Washington.
OK, so I'm being long winded, but it's necessary to illustrate my current frustration. The other day on KTIK I listened to a caller say the stupidest things about Joe Southwick I've ever heard...well since I was stuck at BYU. The caller said he didn't think Southwick played well enough during the scrimmage to deserve the starting job, and that Patti should be given the reigns. He then went on to say that "we need another 4-year starter in the mold of Kellen," and "why waste our time developing a short-timer when we can develop Patti. Needless to say, this hit a nerve with me. Even the great Kellen Moore, probably the greatest football mind of any active player....ever, had to watch Taylor Tharp take the lead.
Before I go into my hate-the-whiners tirade, I want to be clear. It would be magical if Nick Patti turns out to be the next Kellen Moore (1:1000 odds). And if Coach Pete thinks that it's his time now, then great. But I've got some thoughts for all of the whiners,prognosticators and second-guessers out there.
- BSU has the most complex offense in the nation. If Kellen, the football surgeon, wasn't ready as a true freshman, how could Nick Patti be?
- Kellen wasn't ready to take the lead over Tharp. In my opinion Southwick's got all kinds of things over Tharp. So, do you really think that Patti is so much better than Moore that he could do what Moore couldn't, and start as a true freshman?
- The surest way to spot a wannabe, an exaggerator, or a football narcissist is to listen for the loud mouths sitting around you in the stadium. The louder they yell at the coaches/players, the less they've actually held a football in their hands. You betray yourself with the way you act.
- Real athletes are taught to keep their heads high, forget the last play, be positive, and endure. Someone yelling from the stands obviously hasn't received that training. And, it isn't helping the moral of the players to be sure.
- No. You do not deserve a say in the process. Why are you angry? You aren't due anything. You didn't earn anything. Why do you have any right to be angry. Remember, we are all imbeciles compared to Coach Pete. He has earned his way with sweat and tears. He doesn't owe you anything.
- The minute you think you know more than the coaches is the minute you announce your ignorance and stupidity to the world. Shut up and realize there are ups and downs in all things.
I've always believed that despite its small size, Boise State football attendees are amongst the most knowledgeable fans out there. Some years back Lou Holts announced a bowl game here and said as much on national television. However, we're just human and we forget how lucky we've been with Kellen. We're tempted to fall into that post-greatness-letdown that I witnessed so many years ago. We have to temper our expectations. We have to remember to keep ourselves positive. We have to remember to support the next guy.
So, next time you hear "that guy" in the stands (or on the radio), have some guts, stand up (or call in) and say "you've obviously never played football or your lips wouldn't be flapping in the wind like that."