BYU Football: From Elation to Heartache

Photo credit: Salt Lake Tribune
Photo credit: Salt Lake Tribune

I was quiet. I was calm. I was ready to prepare myself for yet another tough season opening BYU football loss. I’ve done it several times before. This is sports. It happens. You have to learn to lose.

I had no idea what to expect after 2014 was so amazing, and fell to disappointment, followed by some recovery emotions, only to end in an embarrassing brawl. Was Taysom Hill going to come back healthy? How would the Cougars do without Jamaal Williams?

Those emotions were prevalent all Saturday afternoon, particularly when Ute fans were having fun with me while I was live tweeting the BYU vs Nebraska game from the official TornBySports twitter account.

Taysom Hill looked like an NFL quarterback. He wasn’t throwing any bad balls. He was running for touchdowns like we’ve all seen before. But something was different. How could it not have been serious when he goes to the locker room in the first quarter? Our hearts were slowly breaking.

Enter Tanner Mangum and all I see is the moxy and confidence of Max Hall with the in-game intelligence and composure of John Beck. Okay, silver lining. But please Taysom come back in. He did, and he wasn’t skipping a beat.

With a lone mistake being a not so errant throw on an interception, Hill looked poised to continue to lead this team, this fan base, and this country on a special season. But something didn’t look right. He didn’t look as quick in his acceleration taking off from the pocket.

Taysom VirginiaHill exits the game again, none of us knowing the magnitude of what was just about to happen. In a rough second half that saw the Cougars lose a ten point lead, this game was poised to be a typical game we’ve all come to expect. What if Algie Brown didn’t drop that pass? What if the offense elects to kick a field goal at the end of the first half as opposed to attempting a fourth down conversion? That would’ve given them a 27-14 lead at the half.

Instead it’s 28-27 for the Cornhuskers and the soon to be 22-year old, former elite-11 co-MVP with Jameis Winston quarterback Tanner Mangum, a true freshman was entering the game yet again, but this time with the clock ticking.

After missing wide receiver Mitch Mathews on a quick out pattern looking to get BYU into field goal range, there was just one second left. I’ve seen this before and it never works. Not even when playing NCAA Football video games (unless it’s against you). Everyones favorite play in football. The Hail Mary.

It worked. I’m screaming. In total disrespect for my sister who chose the house as the quiet place for her to study for the series-7, I ran upstairs and out my door and did three laps around my neighborhood, in stocking feet, pointer finger in the air.

I was absolutely elated. I was also dizzy and nearly fainted. It’s not crazy people, it’s sports.

I come back just in time to catch Tanner Mangum’s interview with KSL news anchor and BYUtv Sports analyst Brian McCann. Tanner himself is elated, as well he should be. He then expresses how much he loves Taysom Hill, wishes for him to be okay but says he’s glad he was ready to take over when he needed to.

I come back to the twitter feed once I’ve calmed down and the victory has mildly settled in only to hear the news that shattered my heart. Taysom Hill was done for the season. It took awhile to settle in.

Like most of you I imagine, I watch the highlights and national attention BYU has just gained after this incredible victory led by Hill and sealed by Mangum. Then, there it is.

Coach Mendenhall after body surfing in the locker room, is shown on SportsCenter addressing his Cougar team announcing Hill’s season ending, and likely career ending injury. Tears begin to fall from my eyes and Bronco wipes some from his.

Bittersweet. But who am I? I’m just a regular joe watching games and tweeting about them. I can’t help but apply myself into the emotions that are haunting Taysom Hill and I lose it.

According to wikipedia Lisfranc injuries are caused when excessive kinetic energy is applied either directly or indirectly to the midfoot and are often seen in traffic collisions or industrial accidents. This happened while Taysom was … RUNNING. The man is so strong, he literally crushed his own foot in a non-contact injury, and then played through it.

Ironically as he scampered in to the end zone for his second rushing touch down of the day, we hear from the announcer, “Hill not showing any signs from his broken leg”. He was right. But he had just suffered a different injury.

Such an athletic freak with the most contagious positive attitude, this couldn’t have happened to a less deserving player. As if anyone ever would deserve it.

Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Taysom stole our hearts from the moment he entered his first game in a Cougar uniform. Technically, Hill could apply for a medical hardship and get one more year of eligibility. However, I think we all know that’s not very likely. Hill isn’t just an incredible football player. He’s brilliant, as he interned with Pelion Venture Partners last year. Hill has a bright future, though I cannot help but be pained for him.

What does that even mean? As I’ve already established I’m just some regular joe, crazy, ridiculous sports fan. I’m a chump. Or am I?

I’ve never formally met Taysom Hill. He doesn’t know who I am. But I love the game of football and I love the BYU Cougars and to see such a fierce competitor at the helm of my rooting interest be forced to be off the field again shatters my heart. I’ve torn two mensici, an ACL and a labrum. Those injuries were mentally taxing, as I was unable to do many things, particularly play with my four year old son the way I love to. That’s my team and I’ve been able to gain that mental health back while nursing my physical injury back to reasonable health.

Some would say that football is just a game and to those people it very well may be. But sports bring people together. Brotherhoods are formed between teams and fans. They win together and lose together. BYU nation did both of those things Saturday afternoon.

Taysom has leapt over defenders and into our hearts. I’m confident in speaking for Cougar nation when I say that our hearts have leapt for Taysom. We love you. You are our quarterback, our captain and our leader. We are behind you as you recover and we wish nothing but the best for your professional future and the future and health of your family.

You are and always will be one of the greatest to ever put that jersey on.

About the author

JimmieChesh

Jimmie is the co-host of the J&J Podcast, a Documenter at DMBA, a single dad, and a singer/songwriter. His music can be found at his website www.jimmiechesh.com. Follow him on twitter @JimmieChesh. Follow the J&J Podcast on twitter @j_jpodcast.

  • charles hart

    I’ve met Taysom. I took my son-in-law to rehab clinic on his knee. We were set up on a bench and in walks Taysom to set up on the bench next to us for rehab on HIS knee.

    My son-in-law is grimacing as his knee is worked on. I ask Taysom “are you Taysom Hill” he says yes then immediately expresses concern for my son-in-law. A small thing? Yes, but it illustrates the young man’s basic goodness.