USU gets WAC-y

USU in the WAC? Utah in the top 25? UC-Provo sucks? The more things change, the more things stay the same.

USU Gets WAC-y but TOCB Keeps it Real
By Knute Lombardi

Looks like the Aggies aren't going to be seeing as much of America from an airplane now that USU has accepted an invitation to join the WAC. Questions abound as to the wisdom of the move. If all of the current players stay put, I think it's a no-brainer and a God-send for all of the USU programs. More traditional rivalries, less stress on the travel budget and so on. But my concern is that the Pirates of the Mountain West will come calling and gut the WAC leaving USU back in the spot they just left. If that happens again there will be no Sun Belt to come to the rescue and football at USU will be a thing of the past. I have a feeling that USU and the Sun Belt were together on this decision. Kermit Hall and Wright Waters are pretty tight and Waters really came to USU's rescue. The last thing USU needs is another enemy because they seem to have such a hard time making and keeping friends. In fact, here's one fella who kinda wishes the SBC and WAC had joined forces for two divisions. But at the same time, we all saw how that worked back when BYU and the gang were in the Super-WAC of 16 teams.

So what if the Mountain Worst comes calling? Have the Aggies played well enough to make themselves attractive to any conference better than Utah's 5-A high schools? If they continue to struggle and the WAC is raided so badly that it falls apart (unlikely but possible), Romney Stadium will become Utah's largest rodeo venue. Optimistic fans will tell you that there are plenty of options even if that happened, with teams such as Montana looking to make the jump to D1, it would be easy to fill the WAC back up with interesting regional rivals. Here's hoping that the WAC will stay intact and that the Aggies can return to the good old days so many of the older Big Blue fans talk so wistfully about. For now, all the Aggies can do is hope for the best and sweat it out.

Speaking of sweating, wonder how Gary Glitter's pits are right about now? Don't know if you noticed (or wanted to be reminded) the Cougs lost to Wyoming Saturday. Or as my UC Provo loving friends call them "WY- Fetching-OMING! I mean, FREAK! What the fudge is flipping going on here?" Those zany Coug fans, when they're upset they cuss like Fred Rogers doing his imitation of Tony Soprano. It's fun! But I digress.

One has to wonder what in the name of Lorenzo Snow is going on in Provo. Does the LDS church take tithing by direct deposit from its BYU employees? If so, Gary Glitter may want to think about upping his contribution as a means to stay on board.

The old "Well we're young and we'll get better and all you fans and media people are complete idiots so shut up because I'm doing good" song and dance has worn out its welcome with both the fans and the media and folks are starting to think maybe Glitter isn't quite the mad genius everyone thought he was. Insane, yes and getting crazier every day, but not a genius.

Other teams around the country are achieving with young players, and besides, Gary and the gang told everyone who would listen that they had landed every great high school player in the nation and expectations have been sky high for the past 2 years. The reality has been tough for UC-Provo-ites to swallow and Gary is on thinner ice than a Provo hooker.

On the flipside, watching UC Provo struggle has become Utah's number one spectator sport!

Before I dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve The Ol' Crystal Ball, I want to address a couple of emails that I received in response to my last column.

One first time reader told me that I need to learn to spell cliché. My response to him is that Microsoft needs to improve their spell check so that I no longer need to do ANY work when I write. Can I be held responsible for what is clearly a case of gross negligence by Bill Gates? Also, rAggie is my editor. He is responsible for checking my grammar and spelling. I can't help it if he's too busy trying to live his life to do his job. Lessee, anyone else I can throw under the bus thereby partaking in the great American past time of deflecting blame? Nope, that about does it.

Emailer Ryan used to read my columns on RiseandPout.com and he informs me that he was raised a Cougar fan but has accepted the truth and converted to Aggieism. Peace be unto you Brother Ryan and welcome to the only true team that has always been navy blue.

Viaggie commented on the message board about how offended he is that I call BYU, UC Provo. In his opinion I should call it Cal State Provo and not impugn the fine reputation of the UC program. Those silly Californians, having opinions and such. Can you believe them? You know, I just had an idea, why don't I call them UCP AND CSP thus doubling the underhanded jabs? Thanks for the idea Viaggie! (Just wondering about the handle though. Viaggie? Does that mean you swallow the Big Blue pill and it makes you...you know...Nevermind, forget I asked.)

On to the wild guessing that we call TOCB!

USU vs. Arkansas State

As predicted right here last week, USU lost a close one at North Texas. Sad thing is, they could have won the game had they brought the special teams. USU's special teams continue to be anything but special and something needs to change. Most coaches will tell you that if all three facets of the team play well (offense, defense and special teams) that they almost guarantee a win. The Aggies would settle for 2 facets right now. They just can't get everyone on the same page and it seems to get worse the longer they play.

QB Travis Cox has hit the deck around 25 times this season, that's just shy of 4 sacks per game. Luckily for the Aggies, Cox is mobile or he would've been put down 45 times. Sadly, many teams are doing this without blitzing much. Sources tell me that game film from North Texas show a Mean Green squad registering 5 sacks with minimal blitzes. Now you may say, "Well, Knute, they're the class of the Sun Belt. They have a tough defense". To which I would respond, being the class of the Sun Belt is like being the top scorer on your rec league basketball team, and the Mean Green had racked up an astonishing 7 sacks ALL SEASON before ringing up 5 last week versus the Aggies. Seven games in the offensive line is really struggling to pass protect and I've heard rumblings that the biggest culprit is blown assignments and that it has the coaches beside themselves. Right now, Travis Cox is getting a good preview of how it will feel to be 85 years old when he wakes up every Sunday morning.

On the bright side, offensive madman Bob Cole moved down to the sideline this week to call some plays and when asked about it said, "You know, down here the sun is in my eyes so I can't see plays that don't work and if I don't see it, then it never happened. Plus I'm closer to the concession stands and cheerleaders."

Most Aggie fans are laying the bulk of this year's problems at Cole's feet. Scoring is down, yardage per game is down, silly plays are up (okay, there isn't really a stat for that, I made it up) and the natives are restless. Truth is, there's gonna be a drop-off in production when you lose 20% of your offensive line, an NFL caliber receiver and a three year starter at QB. But it's the inconsistency that is driving Aggie fans nuts. Dumb mistakes, penalties at inopportune times (is there ever an opportune time for a penalty) and weird play calling have taken their toll in Aggieville.

But there's a funny thing about Aggie fans, even when their team is only slightly better than the state's top high school program, they still expect them to not only beat, but dominate teams of similar conference affiliation/size. So this week, Aggie fans are expecting a 21 point win over conference foe Arkansas State and anything less will be unacceptable.

I poke a little fun at it but I don't think it's necessarily wrong to have high expectations, just temper them with some dose of reality or you might as well buy tickets at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Why shouldn't fans expect a team they pay their hard earned money to support to at least show well? It's the investor mentality, blame the 90's. People put their money and time into something and they want results, not excuses. And when the Boise States and Nevadas and North Texases of the world who started below you are now looking down on you, it makes folks wonder if they should still be making that investment.

TOCB says the Aggies get it together and beat Arkansas State 30-17 behind a nice showing by RB David Fiefia and a defense that seemed to suddenly click last week versus the Mean Green.  In fact, TOCB called it's shot in the season preview calling saying the only league game the Aggies lose is at North Texas. So now the Ags must run the table or else I have to start using TOCB as a fish bowl.

Utah/New Mexico

Did anyone really think that New Mexico would compete for the MWC title this year? Seriously? Anyone? Yet they were touted as one of the front runners early on for some reason. The Lobos are so bad that they almost beat BYU. It takes hard work to lose to the Cougs this year.

Meanwhile, Utah has cracked the Top 25 and all is right at Taxpayer Stadium. That means this team is poised to drop three in a row right? Not so fast. This isn't your daddy's Utes, Skippy. Quag Meyer is a football Gawd in Utah right now and he's doing this WITHOUT HIS GUYS! How many coaches do you hear talk about getting "their guys" through a recruiting class or two? If Quag can do this with someone else's "guys", what can he do with his own? We may never know. I still think Quag moves on by 2005 (calendar year not season) just as all his "guys" are coming up to speed.

Here's how good a job Quag is doing, Salt Lake radio talk shows are talking about the Utes more than the Cougars. Even with all the upheaval behind the Zion Curtain, the Utes are the hot topic. Someone tell me the last time that happened (in football)?

Utah keeps rolling 28 - 13.

BYU/UNLV

When was the last time you heard a Cougar fan ask, "How long until basketball season"? The country sets it's clocks back an hour when Aggie fans start asking the question, that's how consistent things are in Logan.

"Laverl, when do we set the clocks back?"

"I dunno LaVon, lemme call cousin Delbert up at Utah State. Hello Del? How's the Aggie football team doin' this year? Uh-huh. I see. Well, g'bye then. <Click> We set 'em back this week LaVon!"

Standard procedure in Cache Valley but in Provo this is new ground.

Each week Gary Glitter and Bronco Madmanhall stand on the sideline glaring across the field, looking at any moment like they are going to snap and run onto the field. Madmanhall would start biting the heads off of players while Glitter stomped and screamed at midfield. Every week they end up with the same look Metallica's James Hetfield had when his hair (and much of the rest of him) caught fire onstage. It's that "Holy...What the...Where? How? Awww sh*t this isn't supposed to happen!" look of bemused rage.

Last week, TOCB never, EVER, would have picked UNLV to win this game. Now TOCB wonders if it will ever pick CS-Provo again. The Cougs continue to circle the drain, just waiting for the final flush. Rebels win 23-17 even with a new (and young, but don't tell Gary) QB.

Thanks for joining me folks and remember that no matter how bad your week was, there's football this weekend to make up for it.


**As always you can email Knute with comments or questions at Knute@aggies.com                 


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