The numbers get smaller and the moments get bigger. Here is the top half of my top 10 favorite BYU sports moments.
#5 BYU Upsets Oklahoma
Some moments are incredible when they happen and then not so incredible as time goes by. This moment was special for a lot of different reasons and it's stayed in my top 5 even though the awesomeness was somewhat diminished a couple weeks later when Florida State showed BYU just how far it still had to go. I am not a fan of Oklahoma. In fact I hate them. Ironically it was my love of Texas Tech and not BYU that first got me started. During the fall of 2008, I began a love affair with Mike Leach and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Cougars weren't showing up in the games that mattered and since Leach is a BYU graduate and built his Air Raid offense around what LaVell used to do at BYU it didn't seem quite so traitorous . Now I'm not going to get into the whole Texas Tech saga. There's enough material there for a Peter Jackson trilogy. All you need to know is that after Oklahoma destroyed Tech's shot at a National Title and Sam "The Chipmunk" Bradford STOLE Graham Harrell's Heisman I developed a serious dislike for the Spooners. Thankfully 2009 would offer the chance for revenge. Cue Colby Clausen and a 14-13 Cougar upset in Norman. Ten games later the Red Raiders would take advantage of the Bradfordless Sooners with a 41-13 smack down in Lubbock. Beautiful.
#4 4th and 18
It's BYU. It's Utah. And if you read the first half of this list you know how this one plays out. The only difference is this time I was there! That's right I was there! And what better way to spend a crisp November day than watching your hated rivals have their hearts ripped out for the second year in a row? Why watching it with your brother and girlfriend of course! After all one needs someone to hug and jump around with in order to truly enjoy the moment to the fullest. Not that I'm against stranger hugging. Strangers need loving too. And this was a day for stranger hugging indeed!
Now I know you've all heard this story like a hundred times, but let me tell it one more time just for continuity's sake. It's the fourth quarter. BYU is down. They're backed up into the shadow of their own end zone. Time is running out. The previous three plays have failed and BYU needs a conversion or else the game is over. At this point I'm thinking "No way. There is no freaking way that BYU pulls this out two years in a row." Maybe it was all the field goals they had to settle for earlier in the game or maybe it was the fact that Utah had somehow managed to come back late and take a lead with only minutes left to play. I just figured that there was no way BYU could possibly pull out yet another come from behind victory two years in a row. But I failed to factor in one very important thing. It's a well known fact that on fourth and forever with the game on the line Utah's cornerbacks go on vacation! I mean seriously! I can't be the only person whose noticed this. Where do these guys go? It must be somewhere tropical because by the time they got back Max Hall had found a WIDE OPEN Austin Collie for a 50-yard gain. At that point it was just a matter of who was going to score the winning touchdown. Yeah give the ball to Unga. He likes to run over people for fun. Make sure Collie snags the two point conversion afterwards just to seal the deal. Nice work fellas.
But the story doesn't end there. After the game when all the hugging and cheering and crying had simmered down a little bit and we were waiting for people to file out of the stadium I happened to look over my shoulder and into the press boxes. And there was LaVell! In all his glory! Cougar cap and coat. Taking a drink out of a water bottle. He took a drink, lowered the water bottle, looked me right in the eye, gave a little smile, and winked! I swear to Cosmo, LaVell Edwards winked at me!
#3 Gonzaga gets Jimmered
You didn't think I'd make a Top 10 list and leave Jimmer off of it did you? If so shame on you. Jimmer is amazing. His career had enough moments to make two top ten lists. Maybe three. And this coming from a guy who doesn't like basketball all that much. I mean I'll watch March Madness. And BYU when they're good (that's right I said it.) But when James T. Fredette stepped onto the court my eyes were glued to the television screen. He was so confident, so dynamic. So "yeah I'll pull up from 40 feet....and make it." Sometimes he didn't even stop at 40 feet feet. Don't believe me? YouTube the Utah game. With all due respect to Danny Ainge, Jimmer Fredette is the best player to ever come out of BYU. He is also in my opinion one of the most exciting college players to ever pick up a basketball. But I don't have to explain this to you. This is a BYU blog. You know who he is. Besides I've got another Jimmer moment coming up. In the meantime sit back, relax, and watch Jimmer dismantle Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.
Did you see that?! Did you see that?! 35 points! 6 assists! With not one, not two, but seven three pointers!! Seven!! Ok ok I'm sorry I'm sorry. Moving on...
#2 Beck to Harline
Ah Beck to Harline. Otherwise known as "The Immaculate Reception" or "The Closing Prayer." What a moment this was. Or maybe series of moments. Twelve of them to be exact. That's how long it took for John Beck to scramble around and find Johnny Harline all alone in the back of the endzone for the game winning score. Some people call it "The Longest Twelve Seconds in Football." And for Utah fans it must have felt that way. The funniest thing about it is I didn't even get to watch it. At least not live. I was in the dressing room of some church in Idaho decked out in a three piece monkey suite. One of my best friends had decided to get married so I had to play groomsman. Thank goodness for smartphones. Or the 2006 equivalent of a smart phone. I think it amounted to a flip phone with a Sports Center app. Big stuff back in the day. So I'm running back and forth between the dressing room and the dance floor. Checking scores and taking care of bridesmaids. Then the final drive starts and a team of horses could not have pulled me away. Checking the phone, pacing the floor, checking the phone, pacing the floor. A fourth down, but the Cougars convert! A pass to Jacobson and we're knocking on the door! Then time runs out. I'm watching the phone and time runs out! The game is over. We must have lost. I have no idea what happened but the score reads 31 27 Utah. I'm crushed. I'm literally walking around with my head in my hands! Then my buddy (the one with the phone not the one getting married) kinda laughs and says "They won. I can't believe it!" I run over and grab the phone and sure enough there it is! 33-31 BYU somehow managed to win another one at the buzzer! Except I still have no idea how it happened. I'm running around yelling and screaming. People are looking at me like I'm a crazy person. But it didn't matter because BYU had won! It was only after I got home and watched the recording on my TiVo that I saw how it all came together. Still gives me chills. Man what it must have been like to see it live!
#1 Jimmer Drops 52 on New Mexico
Here we are at #1. But what's this? Another basketball moment? That's right fools! Another basketball moment. THE basketball moment in my mind. Like I said before Jimmer had enough moments during his career to fill two or three Top 10 lists. But this one was my favorite. And here's why. As amazing as the 2010-2011 season was, and it was amazing don't get me wrong, there was always the fact that BYU didn't win the Mountain West regular season title outright. Or the tournament title for that matter. And there was only one team to blame for that. New Mexico. Say what you want about San Diego State and UNLV. New Mexico is the team I most loved to see BYU beat back in the old Mountain West days. Maybe it was the time I had to watch them steal the Mountain West title away in Provo during the Pre-Jimmer days. Maybe it's the fact that they wear red. Maybe it's because they shoot the corner three ball as well as the Spurs team that sent Derrick Fisher and Derron Williams packing during the 2007 Western Conference Finals. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because they beat Jimmer and the Cougs twice during the regular season! Twice! Once is understandable. I mean that was a very good New Mexico team and anybody can loose in that snake pit of a basketball arena the Lobos call home. But twice? The only thing I can think of is that BYU was so demoralized by the loss of Brandon Davies that they just couldn't get up for that second meeting in Provo. That's all I can think of. No way does a Fredette led team drop the second meeting at home. Think I'm biased? Maybe so. But watch this clinic Fredette put on during the Mountain West Tournament and tell me the Lobos would have taken that second one.
52 points. A MWC Tournament record. All Hail the King.