Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head.

I’ve noticed recently that I’m not very good at parking exactly between the two yellow lines. But I realized that the older I get, the less I care.

No loyalty

I’m having a really, really hard time with the transfer portal.

I joke that some players enter the transfer portal hoping that they’ll emerge on the other side with a consistent jump shot and the desire to play defense.

Seriously, though, I’m worried about the effect it is having on college sports.

I understand it’s nice for student-athletes to have choices. They’ve had very little control over their destiny once they chose a school. I get all that.

But I think the transfer portal makes it way, way too easy to bail on a situation that becomes difficult like, you know, life can sometimes be.

Whatever happened to finishing what you started?

An athlete in his or her teens and early 20s doesn’t necessarily have the ability or experience to make tough decisions about transferring or sticking with their original commitment. They get advice from best friends to boosters, from coaches to parents, and it’s got to be confusing.

But hey, here’s the transfer portal. Make yourself a free agent and see who wants you.

Wherever Jahshire Hardnett lands — and I wish him the best, honestly — will be his fourth program since leaving high school. That kind of movement used to carry a stigma about loyalty and motivation, but the transfer portal is bringing a new, Wild West frontier.

I wonder what life will be like for the athlete who decides to return to his or her original school. His teammates could resent them and his coach would likely not trust them.

Maybe it’s too myopic to think of such things as loyalty and determination in college sports, but I think there is a real lack of those qualities right now.

The transfer portal is making it worse.

Ending too soon

The BYU men’s volleyball team had been to the Final Four in five of the past six seasons, three times advancing to the championship match.

That’s a pretty high bar.

The 2019 Cougars fell short of that goal, posting a 13-12 record and bowing out of the postseason with a semifinal loss in the MPSF Tournament to eventual champion Pepperdine.

There were some excellent individual moments, including one weekend where BYU took down UCLA and Pepperdine at the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars finished fifth in the MPSF regular season standings but had at least one win against all four teams ahead of them.

Mix a very young team, a very young assistant coaching staff and an ultra-competitive schedule and you get the up-and-down season we just witnessed.

The good news is that there is only one senior on the team (libero Taylor Richards), so everyone else will return for the 2020 campaign. That includes first team All-MPSF selection Gabi Garcia Fernandez, MPSF Freshman of the Year Davide Gardini and starting middle blockers Felipe de Brito Ferreira and Miki Jauhiainen. Wil Stanley will return from injury as a setter but he’ll have competition from Brody Earnest, who was named to the MPSF All-Freshman team.

The Cougars will also add a top recruit in 6-foot-7 Gavin Julien of Mequon, Wisconsin, and Teilon Fa’agata-Tafuga from Lakewood, California, will also join the program.

BYU volleyball fans have been pretty spoiled between the men’s and women’s programs the past half-dozen years and the Smith Fieldhouse is still an incredible place to watch a match.

And you are?

Berry Trammel of the Oklahoman wrote a very interesting column recently detailing the feud between the media and Oklahoma City’s petulant superstar, Russell Westbrook.

The relationship between sports writers and the athletes and coaches they cover is an odd one.

When I was the BYU beat writer for the Daily Herald I likely spent more time with Bronco Mendenhall than my wife during football season.

But would I consider Bronco a friend?

More like an acquaintance, a business associate, that sort of thing.

I have a similar relationship with Kalani Sitake, Dave Rose, Shawn Olmstead and a dozen other coaches I cover or have covered over the years.

I mean, it’s not like we’re spending summer vacation together, or attending each other’s children’s weddings.

Players, the same deal. Just because Yoeli Childs shakes my hand after an interview doesn’t mean he’s sending me a Christmas card. Honestly, I feel like I need to reintroduce myself to some athletes even though I’ve spent hours watching and talking to them.

I must have done a dozen interviews with former BYU defensive back Brandon Howard during his career, but before the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl at the ESPN Zone arcade, he approached me and asked if I could make change for him.

He thought I worked there.

I have a healthy respect for all the BYU players and coaches I cover, though I would wager that respect doesn’t go both ways in every situation. We have a job to do, and even though players and coaches often claim they don’t read what’s written about them, some do and if they don’t someone in their circle does and reports what they find.

Specifically with coaches, they limit access and do whatever they can to control the information coming from their program — yet they get angry when information about their program gets reported wrong in the media because it’s often based on rumor or hearsay.

In the end, we both have a job to do. Most of the BYU coaches get paid far more than any media that cover them do and they are judged on wins and losses in one of the most competitive business around.

Impatiently waiting

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to watch a movie than “Avengers: Endgame” on Thursday. I’m probably more excited than my young adult children. We’ll be the ones wearing matching Avenger T-shirts at the theater.

My kids still make fun of me for the look of shock and horror on my face at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

OK, that’s all for today, but for this: I miss being able to slam my phone down when I hang up on somebody. Violently pressing “end call” just isn’t the same.

I hope you had a happy Easter and enjoyed the company of friends and family. Have a great week.

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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