The World of Message Boards

When navigating the World Wide Web, BYU fans have two landmarks that signal their arrival on a true BYU fan site. Total Blue Sports' Spaceman Spiff examines the common themes that run through all BYU message boards.

If someone were surfing the Internet during their lunch break and happened to stumble upon the typical BYU fan web site (like Total Blue Sports, Cougar Fan, Cougar Board, Cougar Blue, etc.) they would undoubtedly find the following two threads of thought.

The first thread begins as some other topic but invariably degenerates into a discussion that one poster is nothing but a blue-goggled homer who has no grasp of reality. This is quickly followed by a retort that the other is an overly negative and pessimistic person who could not even fathom anything remotely good happening to BYU.

As the two (and sometimes more) posters go back and forth, the thread continues to disintegrate. Each side starts to claim some higher authority that should bolster their argument – such as "I've been following BYU sports since before you were in diapers and I've seen it all". Or, "Well, my cousin ran into a player, who was on the team a few years ago, and he thought that they were going to be good." Eventually epithets begin to flow and people are accused of not being BYU fans and told to go find a Utah fan site to infest.

If things continue to spiral downward, a call for calm comes for calm from posters not involved in the argument and for everyone to take a step back. There might even be calls for one poster to be banned. After several pages of such banal banter, the thread is finally either locked or deleted by an administrator.

The administrator will usually post a message reminding everyone of the board's rules to be nice to each other, keep it BYU related and not attack each other. Of course, the system administrator is then accused of censorship and being afraid of differing opinions.

The second common message board thread centers on BYU's current quarterback, John Beck. In fact, no other player in the last five years has garnered more discussion on the Internet than Beck. In some form or another there is always a thread devoted to how good Beck was, is, or will be.

Some iterations of this topic compare Beck to other quarterbacks in the nation (i.e. "he might be good but he's no Brady Quinn). Sometimes he is compared to some of BYU's great quarterbacks of the past ("Beck will never warrant being mentioned in the same breath as Ty Detmer or Jim McMahon"). Other times he is likened to quarterbacks who were just good or average ("Beck will simply be a footnote in BYU's history like Bob Jensen or Kevin Feterik).

And while this train of thought does not generally digress into personal assaults, it does veer off topic. People are reminded that "football is a team game" and that "it is not fair to hold a quarterback responsible for the whole team." "But that's the way football is," comes the reply and "other quarterbacks are held to that standard."

The two sides will go back and forth and never come to an agreement. Neither side will move from their position nor accept any point (however valid) from the opposition. Some will say that the Beck only played on the same team as defenses that gave up an average of 27 points a game, while Young's defenses yielded just 18. McMahon's opponents averaged 41 turnovers each year, while Beck's opponents only gave the ball away 22 times.

If Beck finishes second in career passing yards and touchdown passes (which is well within reach), that argument becomes more cloudy. If he can win 10 games (still possible, albeit more difficult) he could also pass Young, and Bosco in career wins.

So, which side is right and which is wrong? Neither and both. Odds are, Beck will fall somewhere amongst the "greats" statistically, and years from now, he might be remembered to have been better or worse than he was.

With very little news coming out of the Provo campus during the off-season, fans will be fans and discuss everything under the sun regarding their team – even topics that have been hashed and rehashed. So, until the hitting begins, debates will rage on message boards. Of course, even the start of the season will not put an end to the two most predominant threads in BYU's little corner of the Internet.

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