Riley Nelson is a Cougar .... So what's the big deal?

RBCCorrespondent IMay 29, 2008

When college football players decide to transfer to another school, it usually isn't that big of a deal. If the player is any good, the college losing him will obviously be upset. But aside from that, transfers are generally accepted as routine occurances that could happen to anyone.

So imagine my surprise when I logged onto the Deseret Morning News website this afternoon and read the amazing number of comments from disgruntled college football fans who want to lynch Bronco Mendenhall and everybody else in the BYU organization for the recent transfer of Utah State quarterback Riley Nelson.

First of all, we're talking about the transfer of a Utah State quarterback here. Let me again make clear the school he is coming from. Utah State! This is a college that perennially ranks as one of the worst in all of Division 1-A. They suck. Last year they were 2-10. The year before they were 1-11.

The Aggies haven't won more than three games in a season since 2002. That year they won a grand total of.... 4! Numbers don't lie. The Utah State football program is undeniably and unbelievably horrible.

But apparently this Nelson kid is pretty good. When the Aggies went 1-11 in 2006, he was the quarterback during their lone win. That just happened to also be his first collegiate start. Before Nelson, the Aggies hadn't seen a quarterback win his first collegiate start since 1992.

Nelson, who was a Parade All-American at Logan High School near Utah State, didn't have incredible stats with the Aggies. He threw for 874 yards and had six touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 277 yards. But the Aggies had high hopes for him. Nelson is currently serving an LDS church mission in Spain.

According to reports, Nelson's family recently initated contact with Brigham Young University regarding his interest in playing for the Cougars. Thinking Nelson could be a possible replacement for current candidate Max Hall, the Cougars decided to continue the talks. Talks led to progress and then bam! Nelson's a Cougar.

If I were an Aggies fan, I would be thoroughly pissed off at this recent turn of events. For once they had a quarterback who looked like he might have some talent. For once in who knows how long, winning six games and going to a bowl game didn't seem like it would be so hard.

And then, just like that, your future is gone. Not only is your future gone, but it's gone to that annoying university just 100 miles south. So even though I'm not an Aggies fan, I can certainly understand their plight.

But anybody angry at BYU over this whole situation couldn't be more stupid. The main problem people seem to be finding with this transfer is that Nelson is currently serving a mission and it is ethically reprehensible to recruit a player who is trying to dedicate two years of his life to the church he believes in.

These people consider it ironic and hypocritical that the team doing such 'recruiting' is in fact BYU. Also, throw in the fact that Mendenhall said once that he doesn't recruit missionaries, and those already disgruntled Aggie fans get even more hot under the collar.

But let's rewind here and look at how all this played out. Nelson's family contacted BYU. It wasn't BYU that went out and contacted Nelson. BYU didn't e-mail Nelson in Spain and say, "Hey, ditch that crappy university and come play for a real team." Nelson and his family initiated the contact.

Okay, so now that we have that clear, the next question becomes how BYU should have reacted. Should BYU have just let Nelson's interest go without response? Some feel that regardless of who initiated the contact, BYU should just leave missionaries alone.

I disagree. It's not BYU's job to tell a missionary that he needs to focus on his mission and worry about college later. BYU, just like any other college in the country, has an athletics program that it is trying to make better.

If anybody with talent, regardless of whether he's on a mission or not, shows interest in BYU, BYU is obligated to respond. Let's not forget just a few short years ago BYU recruited the highest-rated high school quarterback in the country (Ben Olson) only to see UCLA steal him away while he was on HIS mission.

So let me get this straight. Other universities have the right to pry talent away from BYU, but BYU doesn't have the right to pry talent away from other universities? But once again, BYU didn't even have to pry. The dude came out and said, "Hey BYU, I wanna play for you."

Like I said at the start. Nelson is coming from Utah State University. There's no guarantee he'll even be any good. He may turn out to be just as ineffective as any other player on the Aggies football team. But no matter how well he does at BYU, it doesn't change the fact that within this transfer, no rules were broken, and no resentment toward BYU is justified.

If you want to resent Bronco Mendenhall for starting to turn the Cougars back into a national powerhouse, fine. But once and for all, to all the BYU haters, quit crying. As much as I enjoy listening and making fun of you all, it really has gotten way too ridiculous.