I just want to start out my first blog with Torn By Sports by asking a question: What is going on in the sports world? We’ve got PEDs (yeah, that was a shocking revelation Lance…), and we’ve got imaginary girlfriends dying of Leukemia. The question here is: Why do we hold athletes (who, for most of us, are entertainers) to a higher standard than we do ourselves, our leaders, and society? Don’t we admire the ‘win at all costs’ attitudes that these athletes exhibit on a daily basis? Don’t we actually demand it? Ok, a fake girlfriend is a new one, but finding inspiration from a lost loved one to help you and your team do something special is not. Before we pass judgement on Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o shouldn’t we ask are we really that surprised by these developments? After all, we’ve demanded it. This in no way gives either of them a pass on what they’ve done, and the situations are completely different, but it does boil down to this…win at all costs.
On to what I really want to write about…Utah sports and athletes! Three former Utes, and one Cougar playing in the AFC Championship game, a former Ute becoming coach of the San Diego Chargers, and a current Ute being projected to go #1 or #3 in the NFL draft. What better time for me to roll out a feature that will find itself in my blog posts now and again, Six Degrees of Utah Sports. (If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, Google 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, it’s similar.)
Take 1- AFC Championship game, Ravens vs. Patriots. There are three former Utes and a former Cougar playing tomorrow for the Ravens. Ma’ake Kemoeatu- #96 NT, Paul Kruger- #99 OLB, David Reed- #16 WR/RS, and the Cougar, Dennis Pitta- #88 TE. That’s a pretty good representation of our state and of two of our colleges. It’s great to see that our college athletes can and have gone on to the next level, and have success there. Go Ravens!
Take 2- Mike McCoy being named head coach of the San Diego Chargers. McCoy transferred to the University of Utah in 1991 after the football program at Long Beach State was discontinued. He started out backing up Frank Dolce, but did see action in six games and started two games due to injury of Dolce. Throwing a five yard touchdown pass to Kevin Dyson in the final minute to give Utah a win over Arizona in the 1994 Freedom Bowl was how his career at Utah ended. He was signed to the Packers practice squad in 1995, but never had an NFL career until 2000 when the Panthers hired him. He served with the Panthers in various offensive positions until 2008. From 2009 until this past week he’s been with the Broncos. He’s now being united with another former Ute, Eric Weddle (who needs no introduction) in San Diego as the head coach. Go Chargers!
Take 3- Utah Utes DT Star Lotulelei in the NFL Draft. Lotulelei is being projected by ESPN’s Todd McShay as going #1 to the Kansas City Chiefs, and by Mel Kiper as going #3 to the Oakland Raiders. To quote Kiper, “In Lotulelei, you have a player who can do anything on the defensive line, and all of it well.” Amen, Mr. Kiper! It doesn’t matter which of these experts you side with, it’s simply great news for Lotulelei and for the Utes as well. Having a player go high in the draft brings attention to your school, which brings in recruits, which makes the team better, which…well, you know where I’m going with this. Obviously we still have to wait and see where Lotulelei ends up, but rest assured he’s poised to make a big and immediate impact in the NFL. Go Lotulelei!
I guess we didn’t need the 6 degrees after all! Everything mentioned was in 1 degree, which means that Utah sports are playing out well on the National scene. It’s been an up and down week for national sports, but definitely an up week for Utah sports and athletes! Imaginary girlfriends for a star linebacker, that’s a different story…