So, here I am reading Mormon Times, minding my own business, thinking I'm immune to sports for at least another ten years and voilà, another sports story. Why did I read it?
This one entitled, "Do returned missionaries give BYU a competitive advantage?" discusses BYU's so-called advantage with mature, returned missionaries. I remember the LaVell Edwards' classic quote:
"When we weren't winning, nobody said anything about the missions," legendary coach LaVell Edwards said in 1984, the year BYU won the national championship. "But once we started winning championships, why did people all of the sudden make it an issue? They used to say we couldn't win because of missionaries. Now they're saying we win because of missionaries. I wonder where all those people were when we were losing."This unfair advantage is lamented by everyone it seems. See below for a collection of disparate quotes in the article:
"What's with these missions? They hide you away and you get to work out for two years, right?"
"It's a typical BYU offensive line. They're 30 years old and weigh 400 pounds."
Colson's solution to the so-called BYU advantage? "The best thing to do," he replied, "would be to go out and get some Mormons."
"I remember as a coach at New Mexico or as a player at Oregon State coming to play BYU and thinking, 'How are we going to beat those guys? They've got all of those old guys on the line and they're big and mature. Man, we're just young guys.'
Indeed, opposing coaches, and the national media, often complain publicly about the ages of BYU players when the Cougars are successful, as if that is the sole reason for that success.
"Why isn't anybody's underwear in a wad over the fact that BYU, 9-0 and ranked ninth in the country, fields a team that is, by and large, a special-ops force crushing Webelos," wrote Rick Reilly, then of Sports Illustrated, in 2001, in an article titled, "Brigham Young? I Don't Think So."
Reilly pointed out that half of BYU's players that year had served missions, and 21 of them were at least 24 years old, giving the Cougars an unfair advantage.
"I look in their locker room and see guys with receding hairlines," then-Wyoming coach Vic Koenning told Reilly. "I look out and see a lot of my guys still wearing their high school letter jacket."
But over time, those young men, and their experience, maturity and leadership, prove to be a strength."I've seen plenty of RM's (Mormon parlance for returned missionaries). I've also seen plenty of pre-mission young men and currently serving missionaries. My first question: What does maturity have to do with missionaries? They are fundamentally incompatible concepts.
My second question: What does football have to do with maturity? They also are fundamentally incompatible concepts.
Another Mormon Times article informs me that the BYU-Utah game "will be the largest gathering of returned missionaries in college football." Oh goody . . .