Boylen might be crazy, but he’s the best man for Runnin’ Utes

By By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

A kind of depression sets in during a bye week. You look forward to8212;even depend on8212;football every Saturday.

Fans pack up the family in the red trailer, eat a hot dog or two under a red tent and show up to the game right around five minutes late. Quarterback Brian Johnson waits too long in the pocket. The MUSS jump up and down during Under Armour (trademark) third downs. The crazy lady does her crazy dance. It will all be over sooner than you’re ready.

That’s how a historic year feels. After the Utes won the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, I felt a little empty. I could have filled that void with productive, life-altering decisions, but it was much easier to fill it with another sport.

Enter, stage left, the Runnin’ Utes. Fans were lucky in 2005. After watching an undefeated football team, the dessert was a basketball team finishing with a 29-6 record and 13-1 conference record in Ray Giacoletti’s first year. It felt like Utah athletics was about to take flight.

That is, until the wings broke in half. Two things happened that year. Urban Meyer fled to Gainsville, Fla., after a pot of gold, and Giacoletti stuck around and soiled the ground Rick Majerus had cultivated. The football team meandered along, and the basketball team had two losing seasons in a row for the first time since the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

It was tragic, considering most current Utah students weren’t born before 1985.

Kyle Whittingham has the Utes racing toward destiny. Now it’s up to Jim Boylen, Giacoletti’s replacement, to get out of the starting gates.

If pressed for an adjective to describe Boylen, the first thing that comes to mind is crazy. He patrols the court like a lunatic, badgers the referees like a stubborn child, and has a penchant for grabbing the public-address microphone to shout a few words. The man needs Ritalin.

You could say I liked him immediately.

After dealing with Giacoletti and his wallflower nature, it’s refreshing to see passion on the sidelines8212;even if it’s to a strait-jacket level.

Boylen had a promising first season, and the team finished 18-15. Not a record to don party hats and pop a cork to, but not a losing season either.

He has also primed the team for success this year, putting together a tough schedule that will attract national eyes if the wins start piling on top of each other. Utah will host Oregon, California, Gonzaga and LSU8212;great teams flying into a high altitude. Boylen’s bunch has a date with Blake Griffin’s Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Okla., to boot. Boylen is a man with a plan and a core group that can pull it off.

While this might be a football town, it’s our basketball team that has the history. The school has the 16th most tournament appearances in the NCAA and is behind only mighty UCLA in teams from western United States. I can’t think of a better man to lead them to prominence than Boylen.

It’s a football bye week, but if you’re looking for a Utah sports fix, the Runnin’ Utes will have an open scrimmage tonight at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. The crazy lady won’t be dancing, but there’s a good chance the crazy man will be on the microphone by halftime.

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Nick Pappas