Passing The Torch At BYU

The past few days I’ve been reading about the BYU football team on the Internet to get an idea of what Boise State will be facing this Thursday night at Albertsons Stadium.

I still don’t know.

So I found out a lot about BYU and its football team, but not necessarily this year’s team or very much having to do with football.

I first read about Beau Hoge, a freshman quarterback this year and the son of ESPN analyst and former NFL runningback Merrill Hoge.

Merrill Hoge and I are the same age, we’re both Idaho natives, and we both graduated from high school in 1983, Hoge at Highland in Pocatello, and me at Twin Falls.

I met Merrill Hoge for the first time during my senior year when I was a cub sports reporter at the Twin Falls Times-News and Merrill was a varsity basketball player at Highland.  The Twin Falls Bruins had just beaten Hoge’s Highland Rams 42-41.  I quickly interviewed the Twin Falls coach, and out of the blue, he pointed to Merrill Hoge’s name on the score sheet and said, “Watch this kid.  He’s a stud.”  The coach could spot athletic talent when he saw it.  Merrill played football at Idaho State, then had a career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears.  In those days there was no concussion protocol, and Merrill retired when a doctor confirmed he had brain damage.  Merrill even had to re-learn how to read.

I was surprised this week while reading about Beau Hoge that he’s from a small town in Kentucky.  As it turns out, the Hoges have lived there since Merrill played for the Steelers, because his wife, Toni, didn’t like Pittsburgh.  There were other things she didn’t like, either, I imagine, which is why they’re now divorced.

Anyway, I found an article announcing that Beau Hoge was signing with BYU and listing his reasons for doing so.  The number-one reason?  Kentucky didn’t have enough Mormons, which is not a problem in Provo, Utah.

Next, I found an article written this week by the wife of BYU runningbacks coach Reno Mahe.  According to Mrs. Mahe, the Mahe household does not have ESPN or any other sports channel.  In fact, they don’t have cable TV at all.  Apparently, Reno’s third love after football and Mrs. Mahe is politics, and at 3:30 in the morning once eleven years ago, Mrs. Mahe found Reno awake and in the living room watching C-Span.  The next day she canceled their cable and Internet, and they haven’t had either one since.

But the best BYU article was from 2012.  It claimed you could learn a lot about the BYU football team from anagrams of their names, meaning what the letters in their names spell when rearranged.

In the article, written the week of the Boise State game, Boise State head coach at the time Chris Petersen’s name became “Respect Shrine”, while BYU head coach at the time Bronco Mendenhall’s name became “Cornball Demon Hen”.

Other BYU players that year included quarterback Riley Nelson, or “Lonely Rinse”, runningback Iona Pritchard, or “Captain Horrid”, offensive lineman Houston Reynolds, or “Tony No Shoulders”, linebacker Brandon Ogletree, or “Bologna Tenderer”, defensive back Preston Hadley, or “Honestly Padre” and kicker Riley Stephenson, or “Nonetheless I Pry”.

Although funny, this struck me as a colossal waste of time until I read a few more articles about quirkly things associated with BYU and found this anonymous quote that served as an explanation of all of them:  “It’s a Mormon school, and on Friday and Saturday nights, when you can’t go out drinking, you’ve got to think about something.”