Would you send your junior high football team to play a high
school squad? Of course not! They'd get whacked. Did you think it
was fair that busloads of 12-year-olds got whiffed by 14-year-old
pitcher Danny Almonte in the Little League World Series? Hell,
Then why aren't you writing your congressman about Brigham
Young's undefeated football team? 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
Fifty-two players on the Cougars' 106-man roster--11 of 22
starters--have spent two years on a Mormon mission. That means
Brigham Young is starting guys who look like the Skipper compared
with everybody else's Gilligan. Hell, 30 guys on the team are
married! One tight end who was on last year's team had five kids!
The Cougars have 21 players age 24 and older, including six 25
and older. They have 13 starters who are at least 23, an age when
most college players have already graduated and are selling life
insurance. By the end of next season they'll have seven
25-year-old seniors and two who'll be 26. They've got three
23-year-old freshmen! Makes it kind of hard to haze them. All
right, freshmen! Make your wife and kids breakfast!
No wonder BYU leads the nation in scoring offense, with its
average score being 50-26. Who's going to make a better player: a
22-year-old married sophomore with twins or a 20-year-old single
sophomore trying to make it with twins? "I look in their locker
room and see guys with receding hairlines," says Wyoming coach
Vic Koenning, whose Cowboys are scheduled to be clobbered by the
Cougars this Saturday. "I look out and see a lot of my guys still
wearing their high school letter jacket."
Brigham Old signs its recruits at 17 or 18, just as everybody
else does. Then most of the signees take a redshirt year. Now
they're 18 or 19. Then comes the two-year mission to parts near
and far. From ages 19 to 21 the average male body blows up like
Hans and Franz. When the BYU kids return to school, they hit the
weight room, the training table and the roster--as freshmen. That
means by the time they're seniors, they're mature, disciplined
and 24 to 25, or six years older than many NBA rookies.
Put it this way: On a routine Brigham Young play, quarterback
Brandon Doman (25 next month) drops back behind guard Aaron
McCubbins (26) and zips a spiral to wide receiver Andrew Ord
(24). Meanwhile, on a given Dallas Cowboys play, quarterback
Clint Stoerner (23) drops back behind guard Kelvin Garmon (25)
and zips a spiral to wide receiver Ken-Yon Rambo (23).
Of course, the Cougars aren't nearly as much fun on the road as
the Cowboys. Just a bunch of guys sitting around in their rooms,
reading The Wall Street Journal and picking UNLV players out of
If you root for a school that doesn't happen to have freshmen who
drive minivans with baby seats, playing these guys can give you a
rash. The Cougars have won 19 conference championships in the
last 27 years. A BYU game is kind of like men playing against
boys. Actually, that's exactly what it is.
It's not only Brigham Young. Returning missionaries play for
other teams, too. And it's not only missionaries. It was just as
unfair that 28-year-old Chris Weinke, who accepted a Florida
State football scholarship in 1990 but then spent six seasons in
the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system, got to whip up on 19-year-old
cornerbacks last season on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.
Weinke shouldn't have won the award last year any more than Brett
Favre should win it this year.
From now on, nobody older than 23 at the start of a season should
be allowed to play college football. Look, nobody's criticizing
Mormon missions. If you feel the calling, good for you. However,
the mission isn't required by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, and it's perfectly fine to go on one after you
finish college, or even after you retire. Nobody is limiting
anybody's religious freedom here, but it's not fair that these
BYU players get to go back, suit up and kick the bejesus out of
kids fresh out of high school.
That stuff just isn't Christian.
hairlines," the Wyoming coach says of the Cougars.