Boylen will breathe life back into Runnin’ Utes

As convincing as 2003 and 2004 were at the U, this is not a football school. Not really, anyway.

Just as Keanu Reeves almost convinced everyone he was a good actor in “The Matrix,” and Orenthal J. Simpson had a lot of people fooled into thinking he could be a productive member of society, 2003 and 2004 almost fooled U fans into thinking this was a football school.

The truth is, Utah is a basketball school that is a member of a basketball conference that resides in a basketball state.

Disagree? Just look at the state’s four major colleges: Utah, BYU, Utah State and Weber State. All four schools’ men’s teams have been to the NCAA Tournament at least three times in the past decade. At least one of the four schools has represented the state in the Big Dance in each of the last 10 years, including 2003 when all four teams competed. Even Southern Utah University has been in on the action when it was part of March Madness in 2001.

So, while the genius of Urban Meyer, combined with the ashes of the Rick Majerus and Ray Giacoletti falling outs, managed to distract Utah fans, basketball is back.

Jim Boylen might not be able to breathe life back into the men’s basketball team in one month, or even one season, but the MUSS and Crimson Club members can be assured of one thing: Boylen is going to do his damnedest to try.

If a fan didn’t know better, he/she might confuse Boylen with a politician on the campaign trail. The new Runnin’ Ute basketball coach has been seen at midfield of the Utah/Utah State football game promoting his team. Between game one and game two of last week’s BYU/Utah volleyball match, Boylen took center stage to promote his team again. It’s not hard to see that Boylen is excited about his opportunity at the U, and he’s taking every opportunity to let fans know that.

That’s still not the reason I’m more excited to see the changes in this basketball team than I would be if Rachel McAdams showed up in a sundress ready to whisk me away on a month-long pleasure cruise.

It’s as if Boylen went into the future and memorized the exact moves he needed to make, then came back to present time and did exactly that. Above all else, he’s embraced the MUSS as a diabetic embraces insulin, or as Roy Hobbs embraced his thunderbolt bat. He’s also one of the most down-to-earth basketball coaches one is likely to meet, and his tell-it-like-it-is mentality is as genuine as it is refreshing.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Boylen is that he is going to be a fantastic Utah coach for years to come. Even when his teams reach 2004 Utah football proportions, there won’t be that what-team-is-going-to-lure-our-guy-away cloud hanging over fans’ heads. The reason: Boylen is as big a family man as he is a basketball man. Boylen has already embraced the community and plans on keeping his wife Christine and daughters Ashlen and Layla firmly planted in Salt Lake City for years to come.

Whether you want to take Craig Bolerjack’s advice and “buckle up,” or if you’d rather take Terrell Owens’ advice and “Get your popcorn ready,” the Runnin’ Utes are less than two weeks away from officially starting the Boylen era, and it’s going to be fun.

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