Hopefully we've all seen it by now. John Beck's masterful toss to Jonny Harline in the endzone to win the game with time expired may be the only footage that the nation has seen of the Mountain West all year.
We've certainly fallen off our Mountain West Conference coverage this year, largely due to the fact that we haven't been able to watch any of their games since MWC commissioner Craig Thompson signed away all broadcasting rights to CSTV. This bold move has effectively created a blackout for MWC games the entire season. No wonder John Beck isn't one of the Heisman frontrunners.
But the Holy War was special this year. BYU has fallen to those secular Utes for the last four years and was due the big turnaround.
Bronco Mendenhall is very much the Mountain West Coach of the Year, and should be somewhere between Greg Schiano of Rutgers and Chris Peterson of Boise State for national Coach of the Year honors. We love how Bronco has grown in the past two seasons. The offense can now march down the field at will, but more importantly, they score. John Beck's offensive dominance was never in doubt, but until this year his ability to actually put points on the board was lacking. And Bronco's defense is one of the best we've ever seen in Provo. Yeah, that probably doesn't say a lot in an offense-only school, but improvements in the secondary now complement the Mountain West's best linebacking corps.
And John Beck. What more can we say about this guy? His patented ear-flick passes with dead-on accuracy, the ability to read complex defenses like a cheap paperback... give this guy a Heisman already, or at least a plane ticket to New York. Of the many great BYU quarterbacks we've seen over the years, John Beck is the best pure passer. We know that Ty Detmer is supposed to be the greatest BYU quarterback, but we think there are some very good reasons why he's been such a washout in the pros. It's easy to point to Steve Young as the greatest BYU quarterback ever, but only because he's got a head statue in Canton. Oh, and because he actually was the greatest BYU quarterback ever. But Beck has a leg-up on Young with that throwing arm. He may not have Young's athleticism, but his accuracy and his smarts should serve him well at the next level. Brady Quinn has the East Coast media circus behind him, but Beck should be the monster quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft.
So now, after a great season, the best since 2001--and probably even better than that--BYU is now rewarded to go slumming in the Las Vegas Bowl. Will they face a coachless Arizona State team, or will they go up against their old coach Gary Crowton with the Oregon Ducks? Hey, if UCLA pulls out the miracle win against USC it's possible that John Beck could be going toe-to-toe with his would-be backup Ben Olson.
Whoever they face, and however they win, the Las Vegas Bowl is still an insult to a team, and a conference, deserving of so much more. And once again we ask, why isn't there a playoff system?