BYU-Notre Dame Report

September 7, 2004 | 26 comments

I and my family went to the Notre Dame–BYU game this weekend. We sat on the very back row—actually, on a lip cut into the rear retaining wall. BYU won.

A few observations:
1. BYU made a concerted effort to get fans to be kind and courteous to our opponents and their fans. Like most things Mormon, it was earnest, touching, and just a little too much to be in exquisite good taste.

2. We fans cheered lustily for the highlight moments–Austin Collie and Todd Watkins catching long, soaring passes; Matt Payne, after a bad snap, booting a perfect punt on the fly while dodging a swarm of Irish players; Daniel Coats sliding through seams; Todd Watkins pulling down the game winning catch while two Irish used him as a punching bag. All those moments got the stands roaring.
At half time Lavell Edwards and the 1984 championship team came out to be inducted into our Hall of Fame. A commemorative video played on the jumbotron. We fans hardly reacted. Some tepid clapping, scattered cheers, and that was it.
I wonder if these fans realize how self-defeating their own indifference is? If BYU sports is merely a showcase for athleticism, it only has instrumental value to the Saints, and limited instrumental value at that. BYU football will survive and flourish to the degree that its history is our history, and its stories and characters have become our own.

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26 Responses to BYU-Notre Dame Report

  1. Times and Seasons » More on Civility on September 10, 2004 at 3:43 pm

    [...] Gordon Smith sent me a link to a discussion yesterday that linked to my BYU-ND post. One fellow actually quoted a line of mine on a jumbotron ad being very Mormon: e [...]

  2. danithew on September 7, 2004 at 10:45 am

    Beating Notre Dame was cool. I’m just hoping this trend continues. I think Crowton has some great ideas and approaches to things — I’d just like to see his ideas translate into lots o’ wins.

  3. danithew on September 7, 2004 at 10:48 am

    After posting that comment I had one of those “holy cow” moments when I realized that the comment posted so quickly. I should have realized that wasn’t going to be an issue but I guess I had come to instinctively expect the earlier comment post delays. :)

  4. Chris Grant on September 7, 2004 at 10:54 am

    Adam Greenwood: “BYU made a concerted effort to get fans to be kind and courteous to our opponents and their fans. Like most things Mormon, it was earnest, touching, and just a little too much to be in exquisite good taste.”

    I wasn’t at the game, but during the 15 minutes or so I listened to on the radio there was enough booing to suggest that the concerted effort was less than fully successful. On the topic of booing, it sounds like the student body agrees more with the editors of the Daily Universe than with President Hinckley.

  5. Geoff B on September 7, 2004 at 12:11 pm

    Adam/danithew, as a Stanford fan, I’m hoping BYU’s win streak this season ends at one. I usually root for BYU the rest of the year, however, because all six of my brothers went or are going there.

  6. Bryce I on September 7, 2004 at 12:55 pm

    I was at the BYU-Miami game in 1990 (BYU 28, Miami 21). Miami was coming in as the preseason #1. The game was well-fought, but BYU won convincingly (no last-minute heroics, no fluke plays). It was by far the biggest party I ever saw in Provo.

    My roommates and I got home at about 11:30, sat down, and watched the game again (we had taped it).

    Having been at Duke for the past 8 years, I can say that nothing compares to Cameron Indoor Stadium, however.

  7. Gordon Smith on September 7, 2004 at 1:02 pm

    Adam, That must have been fun. Like you, I was disappointed in the lame reception given to the NC team, but most of the students would have had no idea who those guys were. One of the things that constantly amazes me in teaching law students is how quickly history fades.

  8. Gordon Smith on September 7, 2004 at 1:08 pm

    Bryce, As you probably know, if BYU prevails over Stanford this weekend (contrary to Geoff’s wish), the stage will be set for a repeat of the Miami scene when USC comes to town, presumably as the #1 team in the country. While I will be very surprised if BYU wins that game, I was surprised about the Miami game, too.

  9. William Morris on September 7, 2004 at 1:46 pm

    As a Cal fan, I’m tempted to make comments about both Stanford and BYU’s teams this year, but true, long-suffering Cal fans (yes, I feel your pain Red Sox-ers) know better than to call down the wrath of fate in that way so I will remain silent. Frankly, being ranked in anywhere above 19 or 20 in the national polls makes me very, very nervous.

    But that said…

    Go Bears!

  10. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2004 at 1:56 pm

    Age matters, I guess. It’s just that, as a 28-year old who was barely sentient during the 1984 championship season, I don’t feel like cutting our current students much slack.

  11. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    Not to make this a political and/or religious orthodoxy debate, but one of the reasons I don’t like ‘complicating’ American or church history is that so few know the basic story anyway. I guess this is true with BYU football too.

  12. Grasshopper on September 7, 2004 at 2:46 pm

    I couldn’t afford tickets to the Miami game, but was at the stadium immediately following (and am typing this wearing the “BYU Football Junkie: Another Church Approved Addiction” T-shirt I bought there). I seriously doubt there will be a repeat performance against USC in two weeks. I would love to be wrong about that, though…

  13. Clark Goble on September 7, 2004 at 3:26 pm

    I remember the Miami game. It was one of the few games I went to while I was a student. Fantastic. Almost as great as when Detmer joined the church. (He was in my stake) Yeah, yeah, I know. But admit it. If you were a student then Detmer walked on water.

    As for BYU this year, they looked great, especially the defense. However the QB situation isn’t good. Beck looked good while he played. But we have no backup to him. Barry was embarrassing overall. The lack of a running game may really plague us as well. I hope not as it might spell the end for the coach. Which is unfair as the real problem is getting good QBs and running backs. That is harder at BYU than elsewhere due to the honor code.

  14. William Morris on September 7, 2004 at 3:27 pm


    Been there. Done that.

  15. Mark B on September 7, 2004 at 4:43 pm

    Clark Goble’s comment about the difficulty in getting good QBs and running backs because of the Honor Code reminds me of Paul Hornung’s recommendations on how Notre Dame should lower its standards so they could get more black athletes and win more games, etc. (Yes, Clark, I know you didn’t say that the Honor Code should be bent to improve the football team–your comment could be the basis for someone else taking that next step.)

  16. Adam Greenwood on September 7, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    Really not a lot of similarity, Mark B.

  17. Bryce I on September 7, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    On the other hand, BYU football players enjoy a relative advantage in physical (and hopefully spiritual) maturity compared with the rest of D1 due to the relatively high number of returned missionaries on the team.

  18. Bryce I on September 7, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    Sadly, since I now live a TV-free existence, I will not see any BYU football games unless someone arranges for it to be seen on satellite at the ward house and I convince myself that it’s a worthwhile use of my time to go see it. The probability of the first happening is much greater than the second.

    On satellite broadcasts of football games at ward buildings: This was a topic of discussion during elders quorum in our ward this week. I found myself thinking it was a pretty ridiculous conversation, until I realized that a few years ago I would have joined right in.

    The only time I’ve watched a BYU football game in a ward building was at my first “Super Saturday” activity. I don’t remember the exact details, but due to my late birthday (December 23) I wasn’t permitted to go to the dance that followed the seminary portion (I was old enough to go to seminary, determined by school year, but not the dance, determined by age).

    I would gladly have not gone to the dance had someone given me the choice (I still avoid dancing whenever possible), but I wasn’t aware of the situation until right before the dance started, and the situation was presented to me as “You can’t do whatever everyone else is doing.” For some still obscure-to-me reason, I was bitterly disappointed, to the point of tears, probably because I was stuck there until the end of all of the activities since one of my parents had responsibilities.

    The seminary portion was actually a special fireside kind of thing in which Danny Ainge had come to speak to us, presumably about turning the other cheek or some such nonsense :). Turns out the BYU football game was on during the dance, and he had some time to kill, so he asked if there was any chance of watching the game. So I spent a couple of hours watching BYU football with Danny Ainge in the bishop’s office of the stake center (along with the other YM advisors and presidents who managed to escape/neglect their responsibilities).

    I’ve got even more stories if you want them. My mom was in the stake young women’s presidency for forever when I was growing up. Lavell Edwards had (has?) a daughter who lived in New York, and whenever he would come to visit for any extended period of time, he would graciously give a fireside or some other appearance in our stake, so my mother had met him on a couple of occasions.

    My mom usually doesn’t go into Manhattan, but for some reason or other she was walking around midtown one day, when she saw Lavell walking down the street. She caught up with him and asked him what he was doing in New York. Turns out he was picking up Ty Detmer’s Heisman Trophy (or something related to the trophy).

    One more — I grew up in the same stake as Steve Young, so my parents knew his parents. They came to my wedding reception in New York. When they were introduced to my wife, my mom introduced them as Brother and Sister Young — Steve Young is their son. My wife smiled politely. I could tell my mom hoping for a bit more of a reaction. Turns out my wife had no clue who Steve Young was. (She did the same thing to our new friends in Durham when we first moved here — she didn’t know who Coach K was).

  19. danithew on September 7, 2004 at 7:20 pm

    Danny Ainge was giving a talk about how to turn the other cheek? Say what?!?! If I recall he was one of the feistiest basketball players in the NBA and was ready to throw it down with just about anybody. In fact didn’t he have some kind of run-ins with Michael Jordan (or at least MJ’s elbow)?

  20. Clark Goble on September 7, 2004 at 7:29 pm

    “Clark Goble’s comment about the difficulty in getting good QBs and running backs because of the Honor Code reminds me of Paul Hornung’s recommendations on how Notre Dame should lower its standards so they could get more black athletes and win more games, etc.”

    Of course the problem with Hornung’s comments was the inherent racism in them. (Whether intended or not)

    I don’t think that is the case with the BYU situation, although at times the cynic in me thinks that BYU coaches of years past did turn an eye towards athletic activities. But then perhaps I simply knew too many players…

  21. sid on September 7, 2004 at 9:44 pm

    As a Michigan alum, I am always so bummed that Michigan never plays BYU. We now have 2 LDS players on Michigan’s team this year. Spencer Brinton is a 6th yr QB, and Tyler Eckerd is in his junior year at TE. Tyler is a starter, whereas Spencer is a backup. We dont really have too many LDS players come to play at Michigan. Jeff Holtry was the other LDS player that Michigan had recruited, and he didnot have a very good experience h ere, unfortunately – being the first LDs player who took his faith very seriously, and who insisted on going on a mission did not earn him too many fans among the coaching staff, unfortunately

  22. Bryce I on September 7, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    Clearly, the Danny Ainge comment was a bit of a joke, as his reputation as a player was of the “bite first, ask questions later” (see: Tree Rollins).

    Although, it should be pointed out that Tree Rollins actually did the biting.

  23. Mark B on September 7, 2004 at 10:40 pm

    To Adam Greenwood:

    Really? Well, I didn’t say similar. I said it reminded me of the comment.

    And, frankly, it is analogous: Hornung suggested lowering academic standards so more blacks could be recruited and the football team improved, and Clark’s comment could be taken as the basis for arguing for lowered Honor Code standards so that better players could be recruited, whatever their race, and the team improved.

    It’s all right if you don’t see the similarity. I’ll still be able to sleep tonight.

  24. Clark Goble on September 8, 2004 at 12:21 am

    I think Mark is right in that comments like mine could be taken to justifying allowing lax rules for athletes. I don’t think they should mind you. But I have my suspicions that they have. Without naming any names I can think of a lot of prominent recent football “heros” with drug and alcohol problems which I simply can’t fathom the football staff not knowing about. Further I’ve been told tales of bowl games where many players reeked of beer on the field. It sounds like Crowton has cracked down a lot more although I’ve also heard he tries to work with the athletes more so as to help them. But I also think that this has hurt his recruiting. (My guess, mind you.) But it’s hard to say. For instance a noted Utah Valley High School football player who is, I believe, redshirting for BYU got arrested drunk up in Rock Canyon. I’ve not heard what the honor code is doing there. But they’ve certainly expelled a lot of players the past two years.

  25. Chris Grant on September 8, 2004 at 9:29 am

    In what sense were Hornung’s remarks racist? Was John Thompson racist in that same sense when he claimed that Prop. 48 was racist?

  26. Mark B on September 9, 2004 at 3:15 am

    The Board of Trustees shut down the Ricks College athletics program when it became BYU-Idaho.

    We can only long for the day when they do the same for the big brother school in Provo!


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