Jimmermania sweeps America

January 28, 2011    By: Geoff J @ 2:55 pm   Category: Sports

JimmerYou have to be pretty sheltered to not have heard the name “Jimmer” in the last week or so.

Jimmer Fredette, the senior guard for the BYU basketball team, has somehow vaulted from a pre-season all-American and the top scorer in college hoops to a household name this week. See a recent WSJ blog post on the transformation here. In the last few weeks Jimmer has been the lead story on ESPN’s SportsCenter on multiple occasions for his incredible feats of excellence on the basketball court. But after his virtuoso performance Wednesday night against #4 and previously undefeated San Diego State University, Jimmer has suddenly catapulted into superstar status. He is a huge hit on Twitter and NBA stars like Kevin Durrant, Steve Nash, and John Wall have been tweeting in admiration of Jimmer. The whole situation has been somewhat astonishing to witness.

I am very happy for the kid. It is fun to watch. Best of all, the pressure seems to make Jimmer perform better on the court rather than cause him to wilt. Maybe that’s the real reason why he is becoming a superstar.

BYU men’s hoops back in the top 10. It’s Jimmertime in Provo.

January 11, 2011    By: Geoff J @ 2:22 pm   Category: Sports

I figured this could be a bloggernacle catch-all thread for the awesomeness that is BYU hoops this season. BYU cracked the top ten in the coaches poll this week after going into Las Vegas and completely stomping the Runnin’ Rebels. (Jimmer Fredette dropped 39 points on their noggins.) The Cougs are now 16-1.

I’ll use this post to update progress of the team over the next few week. BYU heads to Salt Lake tonight to play the struggling Utes.

Have you been keeping up on the BYU hoops team this year? If not you should be.

Sound off below.

Should Mormon women receive the priesthood? Mormon men are for it; Mormon women not so much

December 22, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 2:34 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

There was a fascinating post over at BeliefNet this week on attitudes among Mormons about women receiving the priesthood. Here is the most interesting part, quoting studies found in the book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell:

Yet the most remarkable finding is that within Mormonism itself, there is a significant split by gender on this question. The number that looks the most extraordinary to outsiders–that only 10% of Mormon women want the priesthood–seems pretty predictable to those inside the faith. But the finding that 48% of Mormon men say they favor female LDS clergy is truly startling.

The blog author, Grant Hardy, goes on to give a long list of possible explanations for these survey results. Most of them seem fairly plausible as contributing factors at least. All of them are pretty nice to Mormon men and women I thought.

The cynic in me thinks Hardy danced around one obvious explanation. That is that 48% of men wouldn’t mind letting the ladies do more of the heavy lifting regarding clergy duties in church. In contrast, 90% of the ladies like the fact that they can be completely guilt-free when it comes to those difficult and time-consuming clergy duties.

What do you think though? Certainly there is some combination of reasons why Mormon men are nearly five times more likely to favor women receiving the priesthood and serving in clergy duties than Mormon women are to favor such a thing. But what is your guess about the primary reason for these results? Something Hardy said? The more cynical reason I mentioned? Or something else entirely?

Universalism, Mormonism, and the Paradox of Thrift

November 28, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 1:34 am   Category: Universalism

As we have discussed in the past, Mormonism embraces at least a quasi-universalism in its teaching that hardly any of the inhabitants of the earth face an eternal hell after this life. And if it turns out that there is progression between kingdoms (an idea that has had both detractors and supporters among Church leaders over the years) then an even more robust form of universalism exists.

But as we have also discussed, it is not clear that it is useful to Mormonism (or to God for that matter) for all Mormons to embrace a more robust universalism even if it turns out to accurately represent reality. That is because universalism tends to kill motivation to repent and to work hard in the church. Why? Well to use the old “carrot and stick” motivation analogy (where the stick = negative consequences for actions and the carrot = positive consequences) universalism completely removes the “stick” when it comes to religious motivations.

The BYU-Utah Rivalry Game + Jimmertime

November 21, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 8:07 pm   Category: Sports

Remember when I used to post about Mormon theology a lot? No I can’t remember that far back either…

Anyway, this Saturday the BYU Cougars football team will head up I-15 to play the Utah Utes in the annual rivalry game. In recent years fans on both sides of this rivalry have gotten pretty nasty. Hopefully the meanness will recede over the next few years with the teams leaving the Mountain West Conference to go their separate ways. But this year should be pretty intense still. BYU has rebounded from an atrocious first half of the season and has won four in a row in convincing fashion to become bowl eligible again. More importantly, the BYU offense and defense both appear to have found their stride (even if it was against weak teams). Utah is trying to steady the (pirate?) ship again after rising all the way to #5 in the country and then being beaten soundly two weeks in a row. But the Utes did manage to hang on against a solid SDSU team this weekend so perhaps the Utes are back.

The real surprise is that BYU has a legitimate chance in the rivalry game this season. Five weeks ago it looked like BYU was going to be terrible all year and that Utah was practically a juggernaut. Utah will still be favored this weekend but as “Holy Wars” go this one looks more evenly matched than anyone would have thought a few weeks ago.


In the meantime the NCAA basketball season has begun. BYU is led this season by its first preseason AP All-American player since Danny Ainge in senior point guard Jimmer Fredette. The Cougs are currently 3-0 and ranked in the top 25. It is hard to tell how good this BYU team will be but I think they have a decent chance of being even better than the BYU team last year that won 30 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The biggest win of the season so far was a victory over a solid Utah State squad last Wednesday. BYU didn’t look great but a win over a good team is always a good thing. I expect to see BYU hoops in the top 20 soon.

Anyhow, sound off about the football season or hoops season in the comments. Oh, and Go Cougs!

Welcome back BYU football

November 6, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 12:36 pm   Category: Sports

Well it looks like the BYU football team has finally made an appearance in the ninth game of the year. For the first time this year the offense, defense, and special teams all did their jobs. BYU went up 38-0 against lowly UNLV by halftime. It was 55-0 until the last minute when the BYU defensive backups gave up a TD. Final score: BYU 55 UNLV 7.

Sure, it was just hapless UNLV but this was by far the best the BYU offense has looked all year. The defense pretty much shut UNLV down as well.

BYU has a history getting better as the year progresses under Bronco. There is no better example of that than this 2010 team. This bodes well for BYU’s chances of winning at least six games and going to a bowl. And it bodes even better for years to come with the BYU underclassmen getting the hang of things.

Hapless BYU squeaks by even more hapless Wyoming

October 23, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 5:17 pm   Category: Sports

The good news is BYU football won a game today. The bad news is that BYU is fielding a painfully inept offense still. Baby steps I suppose. I expect the cries to fire offensive coordinator Robert Anae will only get louder.

The good news is quarterback Jake Heaps connected with Luke Ashworth for a touchdown. The bad news is Jake connected with a Wyoming linebacker for a TD as well. He seriously lobbed the ball directly to the Wyoming player. The further bad news is that BYU has tossed a grand total of 4 TD passes through eight games this season placing BYU near last in college football in touchdown passes. Yes, you read that correctly.

But through it all BYU is 3-5 now and if BYU can beat even more hapless UNLV and New Mexico then take down CSU, the Cougs could still get to a bowl game this year. Hard to believe but still true.

At this pace the whole earth should be converted in just 180,000 years

October 22, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 9:31 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

In hard numbers The Church is growing at a pretty healthy pace. But how is the growth rate relative to the population of the earth? Here are some back-of-the-envelope numbers:

Number of people on earth: Approximately 6 billion
Number of “active” Mormons: Roughly 6 million (I think there are about 14 million Mormons on record so I cut that a little more than half to make things clean here)
Active Mormons as a percentage of the population: 0.1% (Thus 99.9% of humans are not active Mormons)
Age of the church: 180 years

So at a growth pace of 0.1 % of the population per 180 years we should hit 100% in just under 180,000 years. (999×180).

Yes I know these are nonsense projections. But the fact that restoration has made such a tiny dent in the population of the earth is food for thought. It seems to me that for 99%+ of the population there is no significant religious difference between living now vs living in the “Great Apostasy”.

What say you?

Wow. BYU wins.

October 9, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 6:30 pm   Category: Sports

I guess that’s why you play the games. Two weeks ago SDSU crushed USU. Last week USU crushed BYU. So SDSU should really crush BYU right? Wrong. In a rock-paper-scissors-like twist, BYU beat SDSU this afternoon 24-21.

BYU did it with some really solid defense, a bruising running game, only a few passes, and some lucky calls by the refs. On the defensive side, Bronco’s decision last week to fire defensive coordinator Jaime Hill and take over that role himself looked really smart today. This was easily the best defensive performance of the year by BYU. They were especially effective at stopping the run. On offensive side, the o-line really showed up today and the running back committee of DiLuigi, Kariya, and Quezada pounded and pounded all afternoon. BYU ran the ball more than 70% of the time and completely dominated the time of possession by a 3-1 margin. As for the lucky calls, there was a borderline pass interference call late in the game that was useful to BYU. But the real doozy was the DiLuigi fumble that should have gone to SDSU in the 3rd quarter. BYU somehow was awarded the ball even after an officials review that showed it really was a fumble. It was likely because the line judge blew the whistle really early, perhaps before either team secured the ball. Aztec fans will be angry about that one for a long time (and rightfully so).

The game was as close as it was because of some silly mistakes by BYU. Jake Heaps made a bad pass into the end zone that was intercepted. Chalk that up to him being a freshman. One of the young tight ends had a really silly fumble that BYU lost as well. And the punter Stephenson shanked another 12 yard punt which didn’t help. Nevertheless BYU did just enough to win. Interestingly, BYU’s magic number is 24. When BYU scores 24 or more or holds the opponents to less than 24 BYU normally wins. Both of those happened today.

Perhaps this will be a turning point for this team. BYU fans sure hope so. BYU will face a top 5 team next week at TCU so that one will be very hard to win but there are some much easier games on tap after that. One think is for sure — this season looks better for BYU than it did after the game in Logan. This was a huge win for BYU and dramatically improves the Cougars’ chances of going at least 6-6 and making a bowl game.

BYU Football is Staring a 1-6 Record in the Face

October 1, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 10:06 pm   Category: Sports

After the 31-16 loss tonight at Utah State the Cougars of BYU drop to a 1-4 record and are likely to lose their next two games as well. (Congratulations to the improved Aggies BTW.) Next up is SDSU which has a BYE this week after destroying this same USU team last week. So in all likelihood The Aztecs will handle this anemic BYU team fairly easily. The following week BYU is at #4 TCU and that will likely be a severe beat down for the Cougs.

The BYU defense has been hapless all season, giving up gobs of points every game. To make things worse, the best player on defense, strong safety Andrew Rich, went down tonight with what looked like a pretty serious injury in the first half. Then star linebacker Jordan Pendelton had to be helped off the field in the second half. This follows on the heels of our starting nose tackle Romney Fuga getting his knee blown out on a dirty play by a Nevada lineman last week. The defense runs the real risk of going from weak to awful.

But as bad as the defense has been, the offense has been significantly worse. SDSU put up 41 points on USU; BYU only managed 16. The problem for freshman QB Jake Heaps is that while he is missing some passes, even when he is on target his receivers are dropping the ball way too often. BYU has been spoiled with mature NFL-caliber talent on offense for the last 5-6 years. The offensive talent on the field this year is either not experienced enough to win yet, not NFL-caliber, or both. It makes for a very non-BYU-looking team out there when BYU has the ball lately.

The upshot of it all is that BYU is now probably going to finish 5-7 or even 4-8 this season. Rebuilding year indeed.

Florida State stomps BYU

September 18, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 4:13 pm   Category: Sports

Turns out the BYU football team isn’t very good this year. Florida State beat BYU this afternoon 34-10. Bad tackling on defense hurt all game long.

At least it appears the Jake Heaps era has begun. Jake throws a beautiful ball but he looks like a freshman out there. Still I hope Jake starts going forward. The offense needs to find a rhythm and there were some moments that it almost looked like things were starting to click today.

Anyhow, Nevada looked great in crushing Cal last night. They could crush BYU next week if the team doesn’t pull things together. I am now thinking that going 8-4 would be a major accomplishment for BYU this season.

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