For the first time in a long time my hopes are climbing without a deep down outcome distrust. I liked Bronco and co and I'm not bashing on them. It's just how I felt. Maybe because Vegas favored us in the majority of our rival games and we lost. Maybe it's the head scratcher loss that would pop up now and again. Maybe it was never feeling like our lines, offensive particularly, were getting better but worse or the same. (Especially after Grimes left.) maybe it was moving so far away from our traditional recruiting strengths in TE and the O line with linebacker being an exception. Whatever the reason, I just didn't trust that a magical season could happen.
I know Kalani hasn't had enough time pass to judge him fairly and maybe my expectations are too high for him. But I feel differently about the program now with him in charge. The recruiting battles won with transfers and commits alike give legs to that feeling. I love his focus on putting kids in the NFL. That alone at least allows us to be in the mix with kids that we would lose routinely.
I mean if I wanted to play in the NFL and one coach was telling me he was going to do everything in his power to put me in position to get there vs the other coach who was trying to sell me on the fact that my dreams were unrealisic and statistics showed it wasn't going to happen....But come play for me because the school is great, have a unique church-based college experience and I'll teach you life lessons etc. I know which guy I'd choose. I think ALUFs have been quietly (or not so much) thanking their lucky stars with such an advantage. Especially with them telling recruits how they can have the same experience if you want it with all of the LDS coeds at the school and their robust institute. So why not have it all? NFL and a church experience?
It's fun to hear relatives who are die hard fans of the team to the North routinely compliment Kalani. They told me he was an amazing recruiter and would do wonders for us. I'm a believer now. I didn't really get it until I met the guy at a fan fest. Kalani was obviously tired after being in the hot AZ sun for hours and hours. But the guy was just so genuine. He was so down to earth and relatable. You could feel his passion for the team and his connection to the fans. He acted like it was his opportunity to meet us. Not the other way around.
So there is a new vibe that's tangible to me. I think we'll still lose some games this year but are going to win more than we traditionally have. Possibly a lot more of the games that count more to the fans in terms of prestige and especially in rivalry. BYU will rack up more and more wins in recruiting as well. It all starts this year. It's a big step forward year. We haven't got all the pieces yet for that magical undefeated or one loss run I'm hoping for. But I think we'll surprise some teams by making it really close and winning some of those games that Vegas says we won't.
My cousins are already telling me that in two years Kalani will be gone. Poached by a bigger program with more $$$ to offer. Whether that happens or not who knows. But I like the fact that knowledgeable and rational Ute fans (yes they exist) are scared of his recruiting prowess and how good of person he is. My Ute loving cousins are cocky and expect to win every year now. But there are now doubts creeping in as to how much longer their luck in wins keeps up and I think they now wonder if the talent disparity of depth they have will stay an advantage.
Winds of change... I feel it here in AZ. It is not even heavy into the Monsoon season yet and I can feel it. But this change is blowing from the North and it feels good.
Go Cougs. Rise and Shout. It's all about the familY.
My bold prediction is a 2 loss regular season.