A Non-LDS Player "Mom" Speaks Out

I'm glad <b>Matt Berry</b> has decided to stay at BYU because, first and foremost, I like Matt. If you want to get my support, be a friend to my kid (running back <b>Curtis Brown</b>) and he is.

Nevertheless, I was beginning to have my doubts about BYU with all the negative talk on message boards towards the end of last season.

With all the calls for Gary Crowton's head and speculation that the program was in disarray, I was seriously considering whether it was in my son's best interest to stick around at BYU.

Though I've always known what he was capable of, Curtis has shown a great deal of progress since he stepped onto the BYU campus in August of 2002 – and currently has three remaining years or eligibility.

He is stronger, faster, understands the offense as well as anyone, has excellent leadership qualities, is a hard worker and responsible young adult. I knew some other college out there would take him.

I came to the realization that if a change was in order, this would be the time to do so. Even sitting out a year as the result of a transfer, Curtis would still have two years remaining. I thought maybe I should try to find another scholarship offer for my son.

After all, according to the rumors that were flying fast and furious, weren't other players' parents shopping their kids around as well? Now, mind you, I realize my son is no Ben Olson, but he does have game.

(Editor's Note: Curtis Brown set a BYU true freshman rushing record of 217 yards and three touchdowns in a enthralling come-from-behind victory over Utah State on Oct. 4, 2002.)

When he came home for the Thanksgiving holiday, I talked to him about how things were going.

Let me say that he hates me reading and following these BYU message boards and tells me all the time to not believe everything I read.

I discussed with him some of the concerns I had seen expressed about the coaching staff and whether they had what it took to return BYU to its glory days. Then I asked him whether he wanted me to try and find him a scholarship somewhere else?

I was even prepared to pay his way as a walk-on, if I had to. I knew, that once on the field, he would more than prove his worth to any team.

Knowing that my son is fiercely loyal to whatever organization he is part of, it came as no surprise when he said the (BYU) coaching staff was NOT the source of the teams' problems.

If anything, he said it was the players who failed to get the job done on the field. He also said Matt Berry wasn't the source of the offense's problem (prior to injuring his hand). He believed the team lacked leadership on the field, but it was because none of the team members had stepped up to the plate and filled this void. He said that was OK because that was going to change when he was playing again (tongue squarely in cheek).

While I admire my son's optimism and intense loyalty, I was concerned because I felt if he was going to make a change, this year would be the time to do so.

If he waited another season and Coach Crowton was unsuccessful in turning the football program around, it might be too late. By then, BYU would be a team in transition or upheaval and there might not be enough time for Curtis to leave and re-establish himself elsewhere – with only one year of eligibility remaining if he sat out a year because of the transfer.

What Curtis told me next did not surprise me, but it truly amazed me. He said he was not planning on transferring from BYU and he didn't care who left, including Berry, John Beck and even Ben Olson.

Curtis went on to say, "Why should another school benefit from the progress" that he had made after BYU had expended the effort, time and resources to enable him to become the first-rate athlete he had now become? Why should another school be the one to benefit from his athletic skills when they hadn't believed in him when BYU did? Why should he abandon BYU when they were the only team that stood by him when no one else did? He was staying at BYU. He said if he is an NFL caliber player, the NFL will find him.

I was stunned and, for a brief moment, silent and proud of the man my son had become.

I knew what he was saying, but now I KNEW that he KNEW what he was saying to be true. I was so impressed.

I knew my son to be an individual of good character when I dropped him off at BYU in August 2002. What amazed me was how much his character had been nourished and developed even further since he had been there.

I have to attribute that additional development to the players he has befriended there, the BYU coaching staff and the administration. BYU is not just a university; it is a unique and special institution.

If my son, a non-LDS black athlete, has such a sense of loyalty and vested interest in seeing that BYU succeeds, how much greater the sense of loyalty and interest should LDS athletes, church members and supposed Cougar fans have in assuring its success.

Call me crazy. Call me naïve. My son has made sacrifices in order to comply with BYU's strict Honor Code at a time in his life when his non-BYU peers are afforded a great deal of latitude and liberty when it comes to personal expression.

If my son could remain so loyal to BYU despite all the fan negativity and unforgiving tone of the mean-spirited comments I have read, then that's even more reason why I believe all other LDS athletes and BYU fans should maintain this same degree of loyalty.

Yes, I'm glad Matt Berry is staying at BYU and I think Ben Olson should return after his LDS mission – as well as any other missionary who has previously committed to BYU. But I won't lose any sleep over it if they don't because I have already received my benefits.

My son Curtis is a much better person from having attended BYU – despite the last two losing seasons. He is happy and he has friends whose company he enjoys. He's getting a good education and he's surrounded by people he likes and respects.

End of discussion.

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