The lockout left you bitter. The Liberty Bowl's got you bummed. Ronney Jenkins' departure made you cry. That Olympic bribery business -- you don't even want to go there. We are in a major funk, but not to worry. There is plenty right about sports in Utah.
We present you with 30 things that are right about sports in Utah, in no particular order:
TOM NISSALKE: He might irritate the Jazz and Karl Malone, but The Coach is the best thing going in Salt Lake talk radio. Always a voice of reason, he's informed, perceptive, just plain sensible and honest to the point of bluntness. The commentary even comes with a mild delivery, a welcome relief in the increasingly bombastic talk-show forum.
GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH: Altitude plus temperature = light, fluffy snow. Just try skiing that wet cement that passes for snow back East.
GREG MARSDEN: When Marsden was given the job of starting a gymnastics program at the University of Utah 23 years ago, the Utes did it mostly to throw a bone to Title IX. They had no expectations. Marsden had other ideas. The closest thing he had to a background in gymnastics was diving, but he studied and learned and ultimately produced 10 national championships. To deflect Title IX resentment, his teams have paid their way, collecting funds through camps, clinics, donors and playing host to major competitions and ticket sales. Remarkably, Marsden's team has averaged more spectators than ANY other women's collegiate team in the past seven years (10,900).
STEVE DOWNEY: The traditional school sports system, from junior high on, is really geared toward a few elite athletes, leaving thousands of kids with few options to play competitive school sports. Downey, who has enough to do as a Spanish-P.E. teacher/athletic director at Orem High School, decided to do something about it. Ten years ago, on his own initiative, he started and oversaw the development of a top-notch intramural program for flag football, volleyball and basketball. In the beginning, he had no budget, so he raised the money himself, but after seeing the overwhelming success of the program the school administration is now "extra supportive," says Downey, who receives a $1,000 annual budget to combine with the money he raises himself. Downey has encouraged other schools to start a similar program but it hasn't caught on. "It takes some creativity," he says.
THE VIEW FROM COUGAR STADIUM: If the football game's no good, you can always take in the spectacular, snow-capped mountains and fall colors.
LAVELL EDWARDS: You can tell your grandkids you saw him coach. You can tell them you saw him fold his arms and heard him say, "We have a chance to be a pretty good football team." Edwards is the Bear Bryant of the Mountains, a legend in his own time. He turned a bad program into a national power and did it in a way that was considered impossible at the time -- with returned missionaries and the passing game. Now everybody's throwing the ball. Through good and bad, Edwards has maintained his dignity, his mild temperament, his perspective and his great sense of humor. If BYU officials had any brains, they'd name the football stadium after him and build a statue at the front gate.
THE ARENAS: Name a place that has better facilities for watching sporting events than Utah. Can't be done. The basketball arenas at BYU, Utah State, Utah, Weber State, plus the Delta Center, the E Center, Franklin Field, and the football stadiums at Utah and BYU are modern, clean and spacious. Until you've seen other arenas, you have no idea.
ERIC CARRILLO and NICK REDD: Carrillo competed for Highland High's cross country team for two years, despite being blind. Redd, his teammate, served as his eyesight and loyal running partner. Returning from a meet one day, Eric said, "Nick, we're going to be best friends forever, aren't we?"
RICK MAJERUS: He's full of it half the time; he's vulgar, obsessed and outspoken, but the man can flat-out coach a basketball team. He's the best coach in the country and watching him work a game or a practice is like watching Clapton with a guitar or Streep with a script. Give him the team down at the YMCA, and he'd still win 10 games. He's also witty and funny when he wants to be and is passionate about a wide variety of subjects.
BYU'S HONOR CODE: Yes, student-athletes (and students) violate the honor code, and lately it's been a frequent source of embarrassment, but at least BYU has one. What if every institution, from Congress to corporations, made a thoughtful decision about what it considers to be right and wrong, and then adopted a code that it actually lived by.
THE SLICKROCK TRAIL: Nature's answer to a mountain bikers' theme park.
JEFF ARBOGAST: Pardon the pun, but Arbogast has gone the extra mile to make Bingham High's cross country and track teams a fixture in the national rankings. He meets his runners on school mornings for their 5 a.m. run each day, then afterward they have breakfast together in a makeshift kitchen in an English classroom, where there is a refrigerator, toasters and maybe 150 boxes of cereal. To make things more interesting, he hauls the team to remote locations for training runs at Snowbird, Brighton or Jeremy Ranch. Arbogast keeps in touch with his athletes with a newsletter, a Web site and e-mail. In the summer he invites the community to run with his team once a week, offering Gatorade, training prescriptions, clinics, music and camaraderie. "I enjoy the kids," Arbogast says. "That makes it easy."
WASATCH MOUNTAIN STATE PARK GOLF COURSE: A 36-hole course carved out of woods and water at the foot of what appear to be the Swiss Alps. For less than $20 you can play 18 holes, making it not only the best bargain in the state, perhaps in the country. This would be a fun place to visit even if you didn't bring clubs.
OAKLEY RODEO: A good, old-fashioned country rodeo, with real wooden fences and grandstands, blue sky overhead and genuine, 100 percent real dirt and manure that wasn't hauled in yesterday.
FRANK LAYDEN: A friendly, humorous, bright man, Layden is one of the best gifts the Jazz have given to Utah. He has become an unofficial ambassador for the state, the Jazz and basketball. He always has something enlightening to say, even when you can't reach him. If you call his office and he's not in, you'll hear Frank reciting his quote of the week. This week's message: "I am ready to meet my Maker; whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Those are the words of Winston Churchill. Now, what have you got to say for yourself?"
LOGAN TOM -- The national high school volleyball Player of the Year, a 4.0 student, a scholarship to Stanford, an open invitation from the U.S. national team, a winning smile . . . the Highland High senior has it all. She's considered by some to be the best American-made volleyball player since the legendary Karch Kiraly.
BYU'S "MINOR" SPORTS PROGRAM: While most schools have funneled almost all of their funds into the Big Two of football and basketball at the expense of the other sports, the Cougars have continued to develop national-class teams in all sports -- track, cross country, golf, baseball, volleyball, tennis. They even have a wrestling program, a dinosaur in the collegiate sports world.
BYU-UTAH: One of the best rivalries in the country.
FISHING AND BACKPACKING IN THE HIGH UINTAS: A vast land of big sky, green basins, steep rocky mountains and water, water everywhere -- just 90 minutes from a major metropolitan area.
JACKSON BROWN: The 6-foot-6 Brown quarterbacks the Jordan High football team, stars on the basketball team, pulls straight A's, serves as president of his seminary class and goes out of his way to spend time with special ed students, whom he calls "my pals." Said one classmate, "Jackson Brown is like a legend."
ZION/ARCHES/BRYCE NATIONAL PARKS: Mother Nature, doing a little showing off.
ELAINE MICHAELIS: With little fanfare, the grand dame of Utah sports has amassed a spectacular 813-204-5 record in 37 years of coaching volleyball, and that doesn't count the first eight years of her career, when won-lost records weren't kept. Her teams have finished among the nation's top 10 teams 18 times. Michaelis could teach male basketball coaches a thing or two about decorum and grace, before, during and after the competition.
ADAM KEEFE: Smart, polite, a regular guy, hard working, interesting, engaging and just plain nice, he's everything you like to see in an athlete -- or anyone else, for that matter.
LAKE POWELL: Endless miles and miles of red rock, water and sunshine.
CATARACT CANYON: A river runs through it -- and how. One of the best white-water runs in the country.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS: The most exciting games in the state, and NCAA football officials still haven't got the idea.
ST. GEORGE MARATHON/DESERET NEWS 10K & MARATHON: Two old races that are annually ranked among the best in the country. They have become rites of passage for many Utahns over the years, and a reason to climb out of the couch and see what you're still made of.
THE JAZZ: Say what you want about the NBA, but the Jazz have fielded a team of consistent winners and solid citizens, which is no accident. The Jazz also have a sharp front office, a first-rate public-relations staff, a shrewd and caring owner, and a fine, underrated coaching staff.
ALF'S HIGH RUSTLER: Maybe the best ski run in the country -- the perfect pitch, the perfect length the perfect snow. You'll find it at Alta.
AGGIE ICE CREAM: In Romney Stadium. On a warm September day.
If you have your own ideas on what's right about Utah sports, e-mail them to (email@example.com).