The much anticipated Cougar season is now upon us. Rah Rah. Growl. Growl. And all that.
I’m making my predictions. And I gotta say I’m very, very optimistic for this season. Why? Three reasons.
First, the Cougs open their season in ‘Zona. Home of many Hotel Californians. I’m assuming a couple of you will be there. And with the Hotel crazies lifting their voices to the Arizona air, ‘Rise and Shout, the Cougars are out…’ I firmly believe the blue and white cats of Provo will tame the kittens of Tucson. Truly Teddy and Conner’s bass, Brent’s tenor and Rico’s baritone will be the difference to kick start the Cougs’ 2006 winning ways.
But, if Brent and boys don’t show, then the Pup is going to be upset and the Cougars may suffer. You see Puppy basically travels with the team. Sponsored by Jeff Matsen, Attorney at Law, Pup is the Cougars second biggest roadie. Now living in Chicago, Pup is earning some major airline miles. So, if you locals can’t get your cheeks out to root for the blue and white, then we’re gonna have some angry growls from the Pup, and a tougher road to hoe for the Cougars.
Reason number two. Bronco “Barbarian” Mendenhall. We’re looking at a new Bronco this year. A man on a mission. A man who in the off-season was inspired by the greatest football movie of all time – The Best of Times. “Haven't you ever done something in your life you wish you could do over again... and this time do it right!” Jack Dundee says to Reno Hightower leading up to the greatest game of their lives. Well, Bronco has his Robin Williams and his Kurt Russell, and he’s determined to make his version of Taft High School the champs. He’s busting out the white shoes for this season, baby. No more diplomatic answers to media questions. No more standard, “we got to execute our plan and we’ll win” comments. This guys isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers this year. We’re looking at a meaner, hungrier, more aggressive Bronco. A man who can’t wait to get onto the field, tear the opponent’s head off, ravage the face and pulverize the carcass. A barbarian. Don’t believe me? Just read some of his latest quotes.
"Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be with you on the first press conference of this season. I'm optimistic about our team, our future and the direction this program is moving. After a second place finish last year and postseason play that serves simply as a baseline for my first year as a head coach, we look to improve, to do better and to continue moving this program toward the standards that are acceptable here at BYU. We're anxious to play football against anyone. We feel good about the opponent that we have and are anxious to play in the state of Arizona. We have tremendous fan support there and know it's a quality opponent. From my understanding it's a sell-out crowd, a great atmosphere and we're looking forward to it. So with that what questions might I answer?"
Q: Do you see similarities between your program and Arizona's?
BM: "You know I can't speak for Arizona's program other than what I see with in their program. It is a program that is gaining maturity, poise and seems to be on the verge of a break through from what my assessment is. I certainly can't speak for their tradition, their expectations there and it probably isn't fair to either program to have the coaches compare the programs. I'm sure both programs and coaches will do their best on Saturday to start their seasons respectively."
The third reason’s the big one. The clincher. A lot has been written online, in the papers and spoken on the radio about the marquee BYU players. I guess a few of them earned All-American honors last year and are named to prestigious watch lists this year. Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats have been named to the Coats, Mackey Award List for the best tight-end in the country. Harline has been ranked by The Sporting News as the fourth-best tight end in the country. Cameron Jensen was named a Butkus Candidate and also a Nagurski Trophy Candidate for the best linebacker and best defensive player in college football respectively. Curtis Brown is expected to eclipse his 1,200 yard rushing season from last year. And John Beck was named a Davey O’Brien candidate for the best quarterback in the nation.
But those are all page 2 stories. Being a past BYU O’Brien winner doesn’t mean anything good will happen to your career anyway (Jim McMahon, Steve Young). The front pages have been all Matthew Johnson. Since the story broke on back in March, people can’t stop talking about this guy. Huge victory for Bronco and his scouts. Take a read.
Cougars Sign Deep Snapper
by Jeff Reynolds, BYU Athletic Communications
PROVO, Utah (March 28, 2006) – “BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall today announced Matthew Johnson has signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for the Cougars beginning with the 2006 season.
Mendenhall said Johnson was signed to fill and important role for the Cougars.
"We have an immediate need on special teams," he said. "As we evaluated our special teams, we determined it was important to find an experienced deep snapper. Matthew will help us fill that need."
Johnson, a 6-foot-0, 245-pound deep snapper comes to BYU from Citrus JC in Glendora, Calif., where he was a two-time all-conference defensive lineman and was voted the team's most outstanding defensive player.
Prior to his career at Citrus JC, Johnson was a three-year letterwinner at West Covina HS in West Covina, Calif. Johnson was a three-time all-league defensive lineman. He also earned team MVP honors. As a senior, Johnson was named an All-San Gabriel Valley defensive lineman. He also earned three varsity letters in track and four letters in wrestling. Johnson was the CIF heavyweight wrestling champion and a two-time league shotput champion.
Johnson was recruited by Fresno State, Colorado State, South Dakota State and Azusa Pacific University. Entering his junior season, Johnson will join the Cougars for Fall Camp.”
Those MWC head coaches who picked us second are going to EAT their words, cause we gots the goods. Matty boy is going take us over the top, baby. How important is the deep snapper? Just ask Ryan Kaneshiro and he’ll tell you what really happened with the “doink” heard round ‘Tah.
For those three reasons, I say Cougars go undefeated. Win the MWC. Crack the Top Ten. And play a rematch against Cal in the Holiday Bowl. See you in San Diego.