The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

It’s Peanut Butter Jimmer Time

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I guess it’s time to weigh in on the phenomenon known in the great state of Utah and more or less around the country as “Jimmer Mania”.

Jimmer Fredette is a talented basketball player on the BYU Cougars basketball team. Jimmer’s story is really quite amazing and has been told in media outlets around the globe in recent months and the media in general can’t get enough of Jimmer. It’s that story of a small town kid out of New York state who dreamed of being something bigger than he should ever dream and having the dedication and persistence to actually make that dream come true.  It’s the stuff of fairy tales and bedtime stories.

From dribbling down a dark LDS church house hallway as a pre-teen while his older brother and friends would jump out of the darkness and try to knock the ball away from him to playing in a local prison yard and dropping 40 points on the inmate’s team as an 18 year-old, Jimmer has methodically done everything needed to excel at the game of basketball and now he’s leading his BYU Cougars to a top 10 ranking and probably #2 seed in the NCAA tournament come mid-March.

If that were the end of the story it would be a good one, but this one is a real page turner.  Last week after BYU beat San Diego State for the second time, in front of a national TV audience on CBS, and then moving from #7 in the polls to #3, with talk of a #1 seed in the big dance, the unthinkable happened.  Brandon Davies, a 6’9″ center/power forward and leading rebounder on the Cougar squad was suspended for the remainder of the season for an Honor Code violation.  The BYU honor code is something every BYU student must sign to attend the school.  I signed it as a 30 year old sophomore, married with 3 kids when I went back to school.  It’s clear what is expected and if you break the rules there will be consequences.  Some parts of the honor code carry more severe consequences and unfortunately Brandon broke one of the biggies.

The following Wednesday BYU lost at home to New Mexico by 18 points and it looked like the wheels were going to come off the wagon.  Media from every corner began to lament and scream the demise of the once presumed final four bound BYU Cougars.  But really what did people expect?  Here’s a group of 18 to 24 year olds who just lost a friend, team mate, and important part of their winning ways.  The emotions of hearing that news on Tuesday and then having to play a big game against a team that had beaten you earlier in the season was simply overwhelming in my opinion and the Cougars played like it.  Jimmer still had 32 points but the rest of the team could only manage 34.

The cool thing about all this drama is how the world has responded.  Fans on message boards posting in anonymity were typically rude, crude, and derogatory in their statements about BYU, the honor code, Jimmer, Brandon, and the LDS Church, but the responses from media outlets around the globe were incredibly supportive of BYU and it’s willingness to stand for what it believes in regardless of the consequences for its basketball team and the fame and money that would come to the school had it gone to the final four and beyond.  Chalk one up for the good guys who stand for something and don’t back down because it isn’t the popular thing to do.  But that’s BYU.  It always has been and always will be.

So the saga continues as the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament begins tomorrow with BYU playing TCU at 1 pm.  It will be fun to see how BYU plays without their star center with the spotlight shining hot upon them while the country waits to see if they will stub their toe and falter going into March Madness.  I think BYU will be just fine and will surprise people.  But that story will be written in the coming days and weeks and I’ll be a faithful follower right to the last game!


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