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Inside Darnell’s Head: What’s the greatest BYU game you ever attended?

By Staff | May 4, 2020
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BYU head Coach Shawn Olmstead directs his team during their practice session Friday, May 6, 2016. The Cougars face Ohio State on Saturday in State College, Penn., in the NCAA championship match. 

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Darnell Dickson

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Brigham Young University head coach Kalani Sitake directs players during the first day of BYU football’s spring camp held at the Indoor Practice Facility on Monday, March 2, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head. We’ve been playing a lot of games as a family lately for obvious reasons. Just wanted to let you know I am undefeated using Amazon Alexa for “Song Quiz” on the 1980’s.

Un … de … feated.

Good question

This one pops up on Cougarboard every once in a while: How does BYU football beat teams like Tennessee, Wisconsin, USC and Michigan State and then lose to teams like Toledo and South Florida?

Yeah, and don’t forget recent losses to UMass, East Carolina, Fresno State and Northern Illinois.

It’s a conundrum, an enigma wrapped up in a riddle.

What it shows me is that there is enough talent in the program, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth when it comes to recruiting, for the Cougars to get to double-digit wins. What needs to happen is more discipline and focus on a consistent basis.

That’s the job of the coaching staff and they need to be better at it. It’s not easy. That’s why there are always so many coaching changes in college football every year.

I think BYU’s roster has enough experience returning to give the coaches a hand in this department. Sure, the schedule is daunting but I believe the Cougars have the potential to get to 10 wins.

’I am stuck on Band-Aids'

Maybe this is not a big revelation, but my generation is really, really good at remembering commercial jingles and television theme songs. My kids? No idea. The invention of the DVR has changed the way they watch TV. That they don’t know the words to the “Oscar Meyer Weiner” song or the theme to “Family Ties” is a darn shame.

The GOAT of games

What’s the greatest sporting event I’ve ever attended?

Personally, it would be the first girls basketball state championship my wife, Barbara, won at Timpview in 1995. But as a journalist, there are so many amazing games I’ve covered it’s hard to choose.

This time of year, though, it’s easy to bring up the 2004 BYU men’s volleyball championship in Hawaii.

That tournament has a special place in our hearts for a number of reasons. The Cougars were ranked No. 1 midway through the season and my wife informed me she was going with me to the NCAA finals, which were still a month away. I told her we wouldn’t know for sure if BYU was going to the Final Four until a few days before but she insisted we buy her ticket to Hawaii right that minute anyway.

We did, and the Cougars defeated Long Beach State 3-1 in the MPSF final to earn the No. 1 seed.

We flew to Honolulu (our first visit) and worked in some solid tourist time while covering the tournament: Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Culture Center, Diamondhead, the Laie Temple and of course, the beach.

I actually found the match on YouTube this weekend (low res, mind you) and it’s not exactly as I remember it. Hey, it’s been 16 years, cut me a break. Anyway, BYU had already beaten the 49ers three times but every match was close. LBSU had some incredible athletes and powerful servers. The final match featured tremendous swings in momentum and stunning comebacks. In the fifth set, the Cougars trailed 10-6 but rallied and won 19-17 to claim BYU’s third national title.

Setter Carlos Moreno was voted the MVP but Jon Alleman had a pretty spectacular match, especially on the defensive end where he had a couple of key solo blocks on LBSU star Scott Touzinsky. Current BYU coach Shawn Olmstead was the libero on that team and doesn’t look much different today.

Nice sideburns, though.

In a nick of time My wife has been watching the BYU men’s and women’s volleyball matches we have saved on our DVR over the past two years but is running out of fresh material. Fortunately, the NCAA announced it was going to stream a select number of men’s college tournament matches on Facebook. Tonight, the NCAA is streaming the 2004 BYU-Long Beach State men’s volleyball championship at 8 p.m. MT.

Go Pro

Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, the only professional women’s indoor volleyball league in the United States, will launch in February 2021. It is officially sanctioned by USA Volleyball, which will also be providing a wide range of strategic advisory services. The league will be located in one city with all matches played in one venue over the course of the season and will feature 48 of the world’s best players including members of the U.S. National Team, accomplished professional players and recent NCAA graduates.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see a few former BYU players show up.

Baby curls Former BYU basketball legend Jimmer Fredette and his wife, Whitney, have posted a workout video on YouTube. They do a series of exercises with their two children, Wesley and Taft.

It’s sweet, funny and likely the cutest thing you’ll see on social media this week.

How are you doing?

This is difficult to admit, but I’ve been missing my fellow sports writers and media while stuck without sporting events.

I see these guys and gals two or three times (or more) during the week under normal circumstances. We compete hard against each other for stories but there is a real camaraderie that I miss.

I saved the life of KSL.com reporter Shawn Walker — and the life of his computer — twice at a BYU men’s volleyball match this winter by deflecting volleyballs that flew toward our seats at the press table.

That’s how I roll. Don’t believe the lies told by Desert News reporter Brandon Gurney, who claims I abandoned him on the sideline of a Timpview-Lone Peak football game this fall when he got bowled over by a couple of players.

I can’t help that my 55-year-old reflexes are better than his.

That’s all, but for this: The dinner I was cooking for my daughter’s birthday was going to be a surprise but the fire trucks ruined it.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and stay healthy.


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