Basketball practices have officially tipped off around the country. College campuses are abuzz with the sound of rusty jumpers clanging off the rim, anxious coaches barking instructions and big-headed athletes spouting off outrageous predictions.
Such is the case in Provo, at least, where BYU guard Jackson Emery couldn't even make it through the first practice without flippantly disrespecting the entire Mountain West Conference:
"We believe, looking at our schedule, that we can go undefeated. We know it's gonna be tough, but we have a lot of confidence in ourselves, and hopefully we can do that," said Emery, speaking with the local media.
"I think every year we have that kind of attitude that we'd love to go undefeated, but it's hard 'cause you gotta go on the road, you gotta play teams that are really good...but the kind of confidence that we have in our team is that we can win every game."
Two years ago, BYU head coach Dave Rose placed a gag order on polarizing three-point-chucker Jonathan Tavernari. The decision came after Tavernari shared some less-than-flattering, though non-malicious, comments about upcoming Cougar opponent Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons went on to defeat BYU, snapping the Cougars 53-game home winning streak.
It may be time to dust off the old muzzle once reserved for Tavernari, and get it fitted for Provo's newest resident largemouth bass, Jackson "Smarmy-Pants" Emery.
Emery's comments weren't mean-spirited; they weren't particularly inflammatory. They were, however, undeniably stupid.
BYU enters the season, its final as a member of the Mountain West Conference, with a massive, pulsating target pegged squarely on its back, chest and face.
The Cougars announced this summer that they are too pretty for MWC purgatory. Associating with such riff-raff was sullying their good reputation, damaging and hindering the profitability of their shiny and powerful brand.
The reaction of scorned opposing fanbases was predictably sour.
Each and every time BYU takes the court for a conference road game, they will be riding a tandem bicycle into a swirling buzzsaw of genuine malice.
Like a pimple-faced boy scout tossing a can of bug spray into a campfire, Emery's comments are sure to add copious amounts of fuel to a raging inferno of fan emotions.
The Cougars will not win every game. They won't even come close.
Last season, BYU managed one win in five games against two of the league's top challengers: New Mexico (who are well equipped to make life miserable for the Cougars once again, especially in Albuquerque) and UNLV (who return their top six players).
For the record, San Diego State is this season's preseason pick to win the conference. BYU finished a very distant second.
BYU has never defeated UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State on the road in the same season.
In keeping with tradition, the non-conference schedule for the Cougars is a lineup of mostly cupcakes. Nonetheless, BYU has managed to choke on the sprinkles and sputter to an early loss or two in the past.
BYU is more likely to expel all heterosexual students, start distributing free alcohol and (heaven forbid) allow young men with beards to roam the campus freely rather than enjoy an unblemished record from their basketball team.
The bulletin board quality quote that Jackson Emery has provided is a joke, a laughable notion. Emery might as well predict a Super Bowl victory for the Lions, a World Series for the Pirates and an NBA championship for the Phoenix Mercury.
Unfortunately for Emery, he is unlikely to encounter much chuckling once the season is underway. His remarks will haunt him like a loud, shrill, unfriendly ghost in venue after venue after venue.
The Cougars have enough enemies as it is. Their games have undoubtedly been circled on opponents' calendars throughout the year. Peppering fans, players and coaches with additional motivation is unwise, if not downright dangerous.
Perhaps next time Emery will pause and pick his words more thoughtfully, rather than opening his mouth and verbally vomiting on the shoes of others.
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