"He's an outstanding kid and we wish him the best from BYU," head football coach Gary Crowton told reporters yesterday. "He's got an outstanding family. He's going to be an excellent player wherever he goes and we're going to miss him, but we want what's best for him."
The mutual admiration extends to Olomua's family. In an exclusive interview with TotalBlueSports.com, Olomua's mother, Audrey Olomua, explained the reasons for her son's sudden and abrupt decision to transfer to Texas Tech University – despite the pleadings of his whole family not to leave.
After hearing both sides of the story from her 22-year-old son (a returned LDS missionary who served in Seattle) and Crowton, she said "it was a misunderstanding and miscommunication."
Of her first and lengthy conversation with Crowton on Friday, Audrey Olomua said, "I've never spoken to him before. I didn't know what to expect. He's very sincere. He has so much concern and love for Bristol. He's a great man."
Audrey, whose father, Famika Anae, and three elder brothers – Brad, Alan and Robert – were all standouts as Cougar football players in the mid-‘50s and late ‘70s to ‘80s, said her son was frustrated and deeply discouraged after two-a-days ended last week. He found himself No. 5 on the depth chart in his new tight end position. A nagging back injury from May prevented him from participating in off-season workouts and he reported to fall camp at 255 pounds. He was considered too heavy for wide receiver and was moved to tight end, where he was expected to become a future BYU star, along with freshman teammate Daniel Coats.
"We call him all the time and he didn't say anything was wrong until last Thursday night. He said his coach told him he was going to be on the scout team and would have to work his way up," his mother said. "He was shocked. He didn't think he would get a chance to work his way up the depth chart."
She said Crowton reassured her Friday there were no plans to keep Olomua on the scout team. She added that Crowton told her he had big plans and high hopes for her son at BYU. Crowton has said in the past that Olomua had the potential to be an All-American player at BYU.
Crowton said yesterday that Olomua "came into camp with a back injury, and he was down on the depth chart a little bit because of that injury.
"We were working him up. At the time of his transfer, he was second team on our personnel group because of his athleticism. But he felt he wanted to be the No. 1 guy and Daniel Coats was doing really well. If I'd have known he'd get big enough to go over to tight end, I'd have probably kept Daniel over at wide receiver and moved him (Olomua) over there.
"I was going to chose one and I asked Bristol which one he wanted. He said that wide-out was more comfortable, so I moved Daniel there (tight end)," Crowton said.
Despite Crowton's assurances on Friday in a face-to-face meeting, Olomua decided his best course of action was to transfer. Crowton gave his blessing and support. They discussed at least four schools he was interested in transferring to, according to his mother. She declined to name the schools.
After his meeting with Crowton, Olomua contacted his uncle, Robert Anae, the offensive line coach at Texas Tech, about the possibility of transferring there.
It is not an NCAA violation for a player to contact other coaches, but coaches cannot talk about possible transfers until the athlete is released from his existing college scholarship.
"Even his uncle (Anae is a BYU graduate who played on the Cougars 1984 national championship team) wanted him to stay at BYU," Olomua's mother noted. "Bristol is not leaving with any bad feelings. We are all very supportive of BYU, especially the football program. We're still big BYU fans."
In the end, she said, her son's decision was not only based on football. "We (my husband and I) encouraged him to stay. We wanted him to stay. His decision was based on a lot of things. Everybody's (family) disappointed that things didn't work out, but we have to support Bristol. It's his decision," she continued.
In comments yesterday, Crowton noted: "There's been a lot of things said about Bristol that I disagree with. Bristol's a very good young man, and I think he's worked very hard.
"He's had some extenuating circumstances academically from before his mission. To his credit, he came back off his mission and passed a tremendous amount of hours – more than anybody on our team to be eligible," Crowton added.
In fact, Olomua's mother told TBS her son would not have been eligible were it not for Crowton and the more stringent academic advisement program he instituted under the supervision of E.J. Caffaro.
Olomua had to complete 37 credit hours since he enrolled off his LDS mission last year in order to be eligible this fall. In fact, he did not complete all his academic requirements that made him eligible until May.
"Bristol could not have done it without BYU's academic program. Coach (Jim) Hamblin is the one that personally helped him. He knows our family. I want to personally thank him for everything he did. I was in contact with him every week," she added.
"Initially, our reaction was shock, disappointment and now support. What else can you do? We're Polynesian parents and the hand doesn't work anymore. We advised him the best thing to do is stick it out. We did everything except slap him in the head," his mother lamented.
She noted that Olomua will live initially with her brother and "he'll get a place of his own after a while."
If he isn't going to remain at BYU, she's glad "Bristol is with his uncle because he's not going to go easy on him. If anything, he's going to be tougher on him than the BYU coaches were. He also believes in the laying on of hands…"
That's an LDS joke. But no one is laughing in the Olomua and BYU family.
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