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5 Best and Worst things about this season.

25 November 2008 Deep Shades of Blue 28 Comments

Let’s get the bad news out of the way…


5.   Not Dominating Washington.  At the beginning of the year perception can be detrimental to the psyche of the team.  We went into that game thinking Washington was supposed to be a good team.  They had a lot of hype around them this year coming in.  We were content with playing them tough and being ahead by a score.  Hindsight is 20/20 right?  Reference No.2 for this, but it would have been great to come out and stomp them like we did the UCLA and Wyoming.

4.   Collie not going to New York.  It was just announced that Collie is not one of the 3 Finalists for the Bilitnikoff Award.  He has dominated every opponent and posted 10 consecutive 100+ receiving games and is still not thought of as a top 3 receiver in the country.  For more on this see my article “Someone Stole Austin Collie’s Post Season Award.”

3.   Dave Nixon Being Hurt.  This did not “hurt” the team but I was just disappointed that I could not watch Dave at full strength one last time.  And I felt bad for him because I know what it’s like to play your senior year not at 100%.  Dave is an amazing athlete and an outstanding football player.  His shoes will be hard to fill at BYU.

2.   Inconsistent.  We never really played consistent on both sides of the ball all year.  One thing about the 06 and 07 teams that made them great were that aside from 1 game on O and 1 game on D you always knew what you were going to get from both sides of the ball.  For some reason that was not there this year.  That being said, I almost give them more credit for putting up 10 wins when they were not sure what was going to happen.  I got the feeling the team waited until the 2nd quarter to decide what kind of game it was going to be. 

1. No Conference Championship. More than anything that had to be the No.1 Goal this year. Contrary to popular belief I think the MWC was the strongest it has been in a while this year. We had 4 great teams at the top and the middle teams (UNLV, UNM, CSU) were better than the also-rans the last couple years. Every Conference has their SDSU and Wyoming, you can’t change that. What makes this go from disappointing to #1 Worst is that in the two biggest games of the year we just flat out fell on our face. We were never in the TCU game and at Utah, well, enough said.


5.   Harvey Unga.  Another 1,000 yard season for Unga.  Harvey continues to be the workhorse on the offense.  I hope he comes back next year Healthy and in even better shape. 

4.  4th Straight Bowl Game.  This will get even better when we win our 3rd straight.  This is a great game to reward our seniors and prepare the underclassmen for next year.  How we play this game will determine what opportunities for greatness we will have next year.

3.  Speaking of Hype… This year there was and continues to be a lot of attention on our conference.  As we continue to get better and stronger as a conference we will help open doors to great things in the future.  In ’06 we went to Vegas 10-2 and ranked #21, last year we were 10-2 and ranked #19, this year we are 10-2 ranked #18.  It takes a lot to move up a notch and we are moving.  This sets the stage even better for next year with a win.

2.  Austin Collie and Dennis Pitta.  Both of these guys spent their fair share of time at the top of the country and Collie had a carreer season.  He should be in New York making one more reception at the end of the year, but we all know he was the best out there.

1.  Another Undefeated Season at LES!  We are 2nd in the country in consecutive home wins.  LES is becoming a tougher place to play and we are taking care of business at home.  More than anything else I want this to get even better.  I want to walk out of that stadium with a headache every home game because of how loud it was.

 By: Markell Staffieri

Welcome to the Deep Shades of Blue Community!


  • CR said:

    When was the last time we had a 3,000 yd passer, two 1,000 yard receivers, and a 1,000 yard rusher in the same season? What’s more impressive is that they all did it before the bowl game!

  • Chris said:

    I love that we are so good at home. This year wasn’t a very good home schedule, but next year will more than make up for it. Florida State, TCU, Air Force, Utah.. And let’s make a rule, anyone that shows up to the game in a yellow A & F shirt or anything that isn’t dark blue gets punched in the face at the gate.

    Speaking of the schedule, do you know if the season opening Oklahoma game is still a possibility? Even if we lose that game, it’s better than playing Tulane in New Orleans, IMO.

  • Nate W said:

    I’m also really looking forward to next year’s home schedule. With Max, Austin, Harvey, and Dennis back, plus a few extras like McKay Jacobson off a mission, it should be fun on offense. I’m also guessing our defense will step up a notch, with coach Hill getting a year as DC under his belt, plus a whole offseason for Jaime, Robert, and Bronco to figure out what they can do to improve both the defensive and offensive lapses from this year.

    Congrats to the Cougars on another 10- (or 11-) win season. Even with a couple of disappointments, it’s been a great ride.

  • RobbC said:

    One thing to remember about Washington is that they lost Jake Locker a couple of games later. Had he been able to play all year they might not be looking so bad right now. I agree we should have done better against them, though.

    I think it’s great that even with that our two losses being in-conference this year, we’re still at #18. That shows how the perception of the strength of our conference has increased. Let’s hope the conference can keep it up. It’s good for all of us. Here’s to all MWC teams winning their bowl games!

  • Chelsea said:

    I totally agree Chris and I think we need to petition the Book Store to stop selling BYU apparel that is pink, green, and teal! Earlier this year I saw a Y shirt that was red, yes RED!

  • Markell Staffieri said:


    Kelly Poppinga and I headed up the campaign to get the “Fully Invested” shirts. Throughout the process we had a few meetings with the Media relations Dept., AD and even the head of the Bookstore. A couple ironic things came out of the meeting, and maybe I should just do a whole post on that, but one of them was that we asked the bookstore to stop selling different colored shirts. They did not go for it. We also had a company that was willing to sponsor 100,000 shirts and the bookstore voted against the competition, so we said, Then sell your shirts for less than $20 so people will buy them.

    Needless to say, I don’t like the bookstore much after those meetings.

  • hansellini said:

    Good post, Markell. I totally agree on # 4 (Worst). It’s a freakin’ joke that Collie is not going to New York. And you could make a strong case for Pitta being there as well for the Mackey award. Did anyone else notice that ALL 9 FINALISTS for the O’Brien, Biletnikoff and Mackey awards (best QB, Receiver, and TE respectively) come from the BIG 12? Clearly they are the strongest conference this year, but, seriously? Maybe they should extend the voting outside the Bible Belt…

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    You know I was talking with John Beck about this last night and he brought up a good point.. There are really two types of awards, East Coast Awards and West Coast Awards. You can go to the sites and see who votes and where they are from and the majority of Awards are East Coast voters. So the combination of being out west AND not being on national TV really hurt our guys.

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    PS. Case in point, Sam Bradford is not a finalist for the O’Brien award but is for the Heisman? I guess Oklahoma is not far enough east to attract the votes of the east coast.

  • Swing Cat said:

    If we could get the student section seating to be first-come first-serve, we would ensure that:
    1. Fans fill in early
    2. The die-hards sit/stand/cheer together
    3. Pink/red/orange/green shirt wearing goofballs sit in the upper levels, where they belong (hence, becoming less visible.)
    4. Louder, more fun environment to support the team

    I’m not sure where you are all sitting, but this year it’s not that people are wearing red BYU shirts (which is bad), they’re not wearing any BYU gear or colors to speak of (worse).

    Cougar United last year was awesome. Everybody was in blue as far as I could see in my section. Loudest I’ve ever heard – pandemonium after the Utah 4th and 18 play.

    This year, the AD and ticket office lied to us about seating and changed policy the day tickets went on sale, after most of us already bought our tickets and coughed up $50 extra to sit next to like-minded fans – which never happened.

    On the FRONT ROW where I sit, we had HALF of the section sitting down late in the UNLV game (these are students!). Various media groups wanted to try to get stupid little promotional shots during critical defensive stands. They acted irritated they couldn’t get us (blue painted faces) in their shots because we actually wanted to cheer the team and watch the game.

    Markell/KPoppinga make an maddeningly frustrating point – the Media Relations, AD, Bookstore, make this impossible to form cohesive fan identity.

    And remember, we’re stuck in a TV deal where nobody sees the games, and the perception still remains that the competition within the conference is meaningless, compared to “big boy” conferences. We only have a QB tradition, as far as national perception.

    Still, what a great season! I love the program and support all the players more than ever, and I don’t need the whole country to recognize how good this program is for me to appreciate how great it is. Stay consistent, worry about ourselves, we’ll get the respect and recognition over time.

    You forgot to mention in one of the best things about this season
    #6 Deepshadesofblue.com.

  • hansellini said:

    I have to echo SwingCat’s #6. This blog was heaven-sent for us cougar junkies…

    I agree with the West/East coast bias of the awards, which is unfortunate. I’m still peeved though at the Collie and Pitta snubs. In digging deeper on the Mackey award, did anyone notice the stats for Pettigrew (one of the 3 finalists)? 35 catches for 383 yards and NO (as in zero, zilch) touchdowns on the year. He even missed 4 games earlier in the season. That’s a finalist for the top tight end award? Pitta, Hafner, even Gronkowski – all much more deserving, and the last two weren’t even confined to the Mtn. What a joke. He must be one helluva blocker….

  • ProV1 said:

    Might I add a great year from Max Hall to the best thing slist.. The Utah game was an aberration and next year’s dominance will feel even sweeter.

  • Andrew said:

    Swing Cat is so dead on about a first come, first serve student section. We desperately need this to ensure that the loudest, bluest, and most committed fans sit together, and cheer the loudest. Heck, I’d still pay the same amount for my All-Sports pass, but the Athletic Department needs to institute a unified student section that allows like-minded fans to sit together. Perhaps we can organize something through this blog?

  • Talkingdonkey said:

    One of the other things the book store must get rid of is the half BYU, half Yewtah hats. What is that all about?! You are either 100% Cougar fan or 100% Yewt (why someone would do that is beyond me). That hat is an insult to cougar fans everywhere.

    Also #6 worst thing – no MTN. on DishNetwork
    #7 worst thing…..Craig Thompson.

  • A-Train said:

    I agree with ProV1 on Max Hall. He is a stud and I am sure glad he is our QB. Did he have a bad game against Utah? Yeah he unfortunately did, but Max has shown grit, heart, leadership, and a competitive spirit that I love and admire.

    The great thing about the Utah game, is it will be a great learning tool for Max heading into next year. Having Collie and Pitta as receivers was a blessing and a curse. max new that for the most part, Collie could get open whenever he wanted so we he would just lock on to him. Beck made huge strides from his Junior year to his senior year in spreading the wealth to his receivers.

    In my opinion, next year we will be even more loaded at Wide Receiver than ever before. McKay will be back from his mission, Chambers will have a full year in the system, Collie will be back along with Pitta and George just to name a few. Throw in Harvey, and hopefully Tonga and we will be set at the skill positions.

    That said, if Max can rely on his other guys more, Defenses will not or cannot gameplan around 1 or 2 guys like Utah did successfully and others tried to do.

    It is a great time to be a BYU football fan!

  • Dev said:

    Good call ProV1. Look at Hall’s year overall and it was awesome and sets himself up well for awards next year. Also much love for the deepshadesofblue blog. I’ve been looking for something like this all year, and finally found it right before the Utah game. Great job Quinn keep it up.

  • Bob Henstra said:

    About BYU’s tv options. The school has the ability to show every game, every sporting event in over 40 million homes on BYU tv. BYU could even charge a pay for view fee using one of their 4 HD channels, which I would be happy to pay. But we have to be concerned and bow to the conference——— only about 2 million have the chance to see our games on tv. Not a bad audience, but not near as good as it could be.

    BYU presently shares about .10 cents per household in ad revenue, where BYU could be receiving much more in a BYU pay for view situation.

    There, I’ve vented, Thanks!

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    Tom Holmoe was great in working with us in everything that we brought to his attention. Quinn mention the coalition on Bronco Mendenhall for Head Coach, and as I said he was in the meetings with us on the T Shirts. Maybe he just needs to hear from the fans about how to make LES a more “Hostile” environment.


    So in our meeting with the media relations dept. Kelly and I announced that we had found a company that would sponsor 100,000 Blue Shirts for the fans (LES holds 65,000). We decided that we would charge a couple bucks because we wanted people to hang onto the shirts and people tend to not throw away things they have to pay for. When we told them these shirts would be like a “Fan Uniform” they said, “Oh, Wow, we never thought of that before…that is a great idea! Everyone wearing the same shirt!” Kelly and I looked at eachother like, “Are they seroius? They honestly had never thought of doing anything like that?” Every big school we played against had a Fan Uniform, ASU, BC, UCLA, Utah, etc. How were our guys missing the boat on this?

    It gets better…

    So knowing that we have 100,000 at our disposal, they take this GREAT idea and say, “Let’s start with 30,000 and see how it goes.” UMMMMM That doesn’t even fill HALF the stadium. Isn’t the goal to have it ALL BLUE?

    Anyway, great things going on in the promotion department…may be another reason why Collie and Pitta don’t get a trip to the Big Apple.

  • Lynne said:

    Another use for deepshadesofblue . . . helping me recover from “The Game” in a realistic, positive, non-hysterical way. Thanks to all the comments too, which are part of the fun and information. Is there any way for a fan to communicate with the team in a general wiay, like a letter, one’s thanks for a fun and entertaining year? How can we tell them what their team means to us? Any good writing to the football office?

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    Coach Mendenhall receives hundreds of emails every day. Most of them negative, especially after a loss. He reads every single one of them and replies too…even to the nasty ones. I am sure that he would appreciate an encouraging email from the fans.

    Letters to the football office have been read to the team in team meeting on occasion. I am sure if you specified in your letter that that was your desire it would happen. At the very least it would be posted on the bulletin board in the locker room.

  • CoachC said:

    Dear BYU fans, my hope is to give an outside looking in view of BYU. I hope I do not come across as offensive and perhaps you can see what an outsider sees. I am not a Ute fan, nor am I anybody’s fan, except my own children and I am glad most of them did not follow their dad and play football. I played and won on all levels and am now connected to a local (Provo) school district and use a name and email from them. Anonymity can be cowardly, but in my case, its preferred. I apologize, but wish to maintain anonymous. I played with someone who went to BYU and his standards were impressive, hence I became a Cougar watchman, and watch from a far. Both Mark Stafferi and Gooch should become coaches in their communities as I can tell they are true role models for today’s struggling youth. Anyway…..
    1. BYU may be the best coached team from year to year than any other in the nation. No offense, but athletically sometimes BYU lacks. Not always. #9 and #32 are NFL caliber and defensively, maybe #41 in a few years, possibly #22 or #43, but again a couple of those are a stretch and those two receivers ought to stay a year, then cash it in, because I am sure they’ll get more pub. next year. Anyway, mostly coaching is placing personnel in the right position at the right time and BYU gets that a lot. Teams like Oklahoma or Texas simply out-race you to the spot. At BYU, they have to out-coach you. I think in the Utah game it was evenly played, except at the Quarterback position in which #15 under-performed and kinda quit thinking. I saw it all the time with some QB’s I played with and against. They are either in a zone or they begin to worry about what all 22 guys are doing and their mind can’t quit thinking, kinda like ADHD on an Energy Drink. Even the great ones had those games. I saw that happen to John Elway early in his NFL career. He didn’t win two super bowls until his last two years in the league and even then it was more because of the running game of Terrell Davis than his arm. Plus Shanahan scaled down the passing offense.
    2. Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. Again, Anae does a great job but I’m old school and the run sets up the pass and visa versa. Towards the end of the 1st half against Utah, Air Force and CSU, running the football would have both gained yards and got BYU either in the End Zone or a Field Goal. FG win games and win big games. I believe a FG would have at least tied the game against Utah and you just took their best shot and its still even. I am seeing a lot of posts drilling your DC, but as potent as the BYU offense was this year, they could have helped your young defense more by running the ball at crucial times. I realize # 45 got a 1,000 but sometimes there are stats, then there are stats and winning in sports is the only stat that matters. Also, mix your RB routes a little. The swing and crossing routes are too easy to force into coverage by playing inside or outside shoulder and knowing the RB is going opposite shade and have either another backer or safety bracket. Anae knows of what I speak so I won’t drivel in detail but think pivot.
    3. I have been asked if I would have pulled Max hall in the Utah game. No way, no way, no way. Not unless I want to collapse my entire program. Unless I got a young gun I am trying to bring along and give some confidence to, I stay with my #1 QB till death do us part. Hall is an amazing competitor and won a lot of games and will win a bunch more before he is through. As a coach and player, the Utah game NEEDS to go into the “so what” category and move forward and not think to much about it. However, the OC and him should have a nice little film session (all day, one day) then bury it and any time someone wants to mention just shrug and say, ” so what, live through someone else, pal.” NFL players use more colorful language.
    4. Confident players are amazing athletes. Most, if not all, of BYU players, most collegiate players are incredible athletes, most of whom were all-everything at their High Schools, and in pick up games or street wars, would kill the average fan. Stupid fans in sports bars who make stupid comments to a pissed-off player usually ends up on the floor. As soon as that defense gets more confident and stops worrying about not screwing up, they will be as good as last year’s when you had those two NFL linebackers. Defense isn’t as difficult as offense but a guy has to be willing to hit, actually he needs to ENJOY the contact, then he’ll be a great defender, until then, its back on your heels. The 2nd half of the Utah game, the BYU D did an awesome job. They were better than the Ute offense. But, ahem, they were not always placed in the best position.
    5. (This is way too long and I doubt many will read it) The LDS culture is kinda hard to figure out. You tend to take wins and losses personal. Which can breed winning, but also create irony. The LDS people are always so nice and caring. My leaves get raked and my snow gets removed. My “ward” is always very, very kind. The negative is sometimes players don’t have that “step on your throat,” mentality. I know this sounds gruesome, but in sports you have to be willing to not care about the other guy’s heart, nor his wife’s heart, nor his children’s heart, nor his mother’s heart. You are NOT his therapist. You are not playing to make him feel good about himself. The idea is to make him doubt his very existence. You want him asking God the deep meaning to life’s questions. It seems Mormons have that all figured out by the time they are 12. So first, step on his throat, tell him to start praying to his Maker, turn your cleats so they are deeply imbedded into his esophagus, then and only then, ask him why you should allow him the great privilege afforded God’s children. Nice in sports usually means losing. Ask Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Jack Lambert or some of the other great ones. They simply are not there to care about you and your heart. They want to rip your heart out and hand it to your wife and children. Again, that may sound offensive, but entirely “true,” as your culture and church tends to say.
    6. Your Head Coach has captured my imagination and I am sure yours also. He is an amazing leader. He flat out leads. I would follow him into Egypt and rip the Pharoah’s heart out. And so should you and your team. All coaches should look at what he does, because it is exemplary. He talks like John Wooden and one of my old coaches, Bill Walsh.
    God speed. (Again, sorry, this was way too long, but it is a season’s worth)

  • kiyoshige said:

    That take was Rome-worthy, CoachC – read the whole thing.

    Deepshadesofblue.com is #1 best.
    Collie not returning next year will be #1 worst – y’all need to stop teasing me with this he will be back stuff because I’ve already come to grips with his absence.

    I think BYU players sometimes come across as not “cut-throat” because they tend to be even-“Keele” (apologies to a former lineman) OFF the playing field. I have a feeling that once they get onto the field, though, they are as amped as any other player out there. But just because they don’t punch out lockers, don’t throw chairs across the hall, may give a fireside on Friday or help with a service project to come shovel snow – that doesn’t mean they aren’t as amped as any other player or won’t be wanting to send you to the locker room on a stretcher come gameday…

    Can’t wait for the bowl game.

  • Seasider said:

    Thanks for that analysis CoachC, I found it to be a good read. However, I respectfully disagree with the assertion that BYU players are too nice to be successful. We’re not the most hated team in college football for nothing and one of the many accusations BYU gets from their rivals is that BYU is a dirty team that gets away with things. BYU football may lack many things but I don’t think killer instinct is one of them.

  • Jeremy said:

    Classic take. Laughed so hard I started tearing up on the step on their throat comments. And yes, Bronco has unique leadership qualities. I hope the fans don’t tick him off too soon and run him off with their criticism.

  • Bruce said:

    Coach C, that was very cool. I’ve seen the killer instinct in the BYU football team quite a bit the last three years (more so, it seems, than seasons past with earlier coaches). I can’t help but think that Coach Mendenhall is the reason for this. This year was weird in that regard, though. I’ve never seen a more brutal beat down by BYU than the one I witnessed against UCLA. After that game, though, the killer instinct vanished. I saw it in spurts at times (2nd half at Air Force, for example), but not anything at all like I’d seen it before this year or the last couple years. It’s hard to understand, but I can’t help but think that the pressure of trying to go undefeated and having everyone else in the conference gunning for BYU were reasons. I recognize that the defense wasn’t as talented as the past two years, but the offense’s shortcomings were perplexing. I can’t help but think that there was a psychological factor that caused their inconsistency. Or, maybe some other internal conflict (players not getting along, coaches and players not getting along, something like that).

  • Brett said:

    Cougar fans need to give Mendenhall room to grow as a coach. Yes, after the UCLA game, the killer instinct disappeared. Everyone knew that if BYU beat UW and UCLA, that meant undefeated was a serious possibility. Mendenhall knew it too, and i think he tried to keep the hype down by being very business-like — i.e. “nice game, we won that game, we were supposed to beat wyoming, here’s a dvd for utah state. we are supposed to beat them to.”

    And then they got emotionally RUN-the-EFF-OVER by TCU (pardon the pseudo-offensive language. it’s really the only way to describe what happened in Fort Worth). TCU had been waiting for that game forever, and BYU came in chanting “execute, position mastery, execute, position mastery.” which are good things, until you get punched in the mouth and aren’t emotionally prepared for it.

    So after that, Bronco realized (and admitted this much) that he had been too strict — for example, by limiting celebrations of wins to 10 seconds, etc. — and that every win is worth celebrating a bit. He’s growing as a coach, give him room, because I want him here as long as he will.

    And we saw that against Utah. BYU was emotionally stable yet prepared for that game … Max Hall just had a breakdown. But they were amped and played well, Max just had a game from hell. [Jesse Jackson wrote that rhyme for me :) ]

  • Lawman said:


    I agree completely about the need to go for the jugular. Our football team has lacked it at times over the years, as have our basketball teams, and teams i other sports. Thanks for the insight!

    –PS–I did read your entire post!

  • Mars said:


    #1 in home wins is Oklahoma, at 24 in a row…

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