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CAN ROBBIE REID HANDLE 2 MORE YEARS OF ABUSE?

IN THE HISTORY OF BYU basketball, few players have taken as much abuse as brothers Randy and Robbie Reid. Boss yell at you at work? Get a speeding ticket? Overdraft your checking account? No problem. Just head on over to the Marriott Center and take it out on the Reids.

Blessed with good athletic skills, they were raised, understandably, dreaming of playing for BYU. Their father has been a coach there for 17 years. They lived and played out their high school careers in nearby Spanish Fork. For them, there was only one school and one team.But this year the perspective may have changed. The taunts became meaner, the catcalls louder as the Reids continued on their course. Now it has become personal. And nasty. And mean-spirited. Because not only do they take the normal amount of abuse college basketball players get, they also receive criticism from a sizable number of BYU fans who complain that coach Roger Reid picks his starting lineup at Family Home Evening.

Since the end of the college basketball season, Robbie, the younger and more impulsive of the brothers, has been considering transferring to another school. Which really isn't much of a surprise. Who wouldn't want to get away from a situation in which he's considered the coach's spoiled kid?

Other circumstances have caused him to consider a transfer, as well. A respectable baseball prospect, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres out of high school. As a freshman last year, he only warmed up in the bullpen for BYU. This year he has yet to pitch in a regular season game but does have a home run to his credit.

His options are intriguing. Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Southern Cal and Florida recruited him out of high school. Most or all of those schools would likely accept Reid in both baseball and basketball. As a pitcher, he knows all the aforementioned schools are in warm-weather, low-altitude locations, where pitchers thrive.

Once out of the Provo, Reid could make a name on his own merits. No more call-in jockeys, claiming he couldn't have played anywhere else. No more signs at arenas saying, "Can I play, Dad?" No more fans accidentally calling him Randy or Roger. No more trying to convince the entire basketball-watching public that he can play.

No more explanations.

If Reid does transfer, history isn't in his favor. Alan and Carl Pollard transferred to Southern Cal, producing mediocre and poor results, respectively. Carl Pollard ended up finishing his career at Southern Utah. Ryan Cuff left BYU to play basketball at Arizona State, but was only logging seven minutes a game this year when he abruptly announced he would transfer to Weber State. Other players such as Chris Nikchevich, Todd Gentry and Greg Anderson had decent careers after transferring - but probably no better than if they'd stayed in Provo.

Should Reid transfer to Arizona, for example, the real possibility exists that not only will he fail to make the All-Pac-10 team, he may fail to earn a starting spot. In either sport.

If you transfer from BYU, odds are you won't make a big splash at your next stop. It could easily be an invitation to a black hole or a Turkish prison. Like Jimmy Hoffa, you're never heard from again.

Nevertheless, there are are several compelling reasons for leaving BYU and only one good reason for staying. If Reid transfers, he'll be running up the white flag, throwing in the towel. He'll be raising his hands and calling No mas!

Certainly it would make life easier for his family and him to leave. Starting fresh could be an invigorating experience. But as Danny Ainge - who had his share of critics - proved, the best way to shut them up is to get in their faces and score 35.

If Reid wants to prove he can play for anyone, including BYU, all he has to do is lead the Cougars to the WAC championship and take them into the second or third round of the NCAA's next year. He'll have more fans than Whitney Houston. But if he leaves, he'll be giving in to the critics, who can then smugly assume it was their carping that ran him out of town.