Dear John: After scouring cyberspace, tuning into radio call-in shows, reading a ton of e-mail, checking in with all the experts, it is clear you will never be a great BYU quarterback — unless you do what they say.
John Beck, you've got to reinvent yourself. Again. Even though you've had three offensive coordinators in three years. If you don't, maybe you don't have what it takes. Go morph yourself before today's kickoff.
Shed the goodie-goodie look and go Jim McMahon. Defy protocol, freelance, chase the agenda that truly leads to wins. Big wins. Take the Cougar faithful back in time. Wear a headband that insults the BCS. Back it up. Hang up on your wife, kick the neighbor's dog, be a no-show for a fireside speaking gig. Do something unpredictable, something unlike the John everyone knows.
Forget that Ty Detmer's teams always had at least three losses. That Steve Sarkisian's first season as a starter was 7-4. That for the past 20 seasons, BYU teams have averaged more than three losses a year. You gotta start winning, kiddo.
Get tougher. Get meaner. Be more of a leader. Election as team captain just isn't enough. Throw longer. Throw shorter. Spit. Yell.
Scream. Get a barbed-wire tattoo on your right bicep, a skull and bones on the other. Keep a chin stubble on game day, no matter what the Honor Code pixies say. Defy punt-minded coaches, show them up, refuse to come off the field. Get a backbone. Chew Tootsie Rolls and make it look like a chaw of ta'backie. Act like James Dean instead of Gilligan. Run your own plays instead of what you're told. You're bright, you know what's best.
Make plays. M-A-K-E plays, even if you throw and you catch.
If your center hikes it over your head, grab Lance Reynolds Jr. by the facemask and splatter his baby face with spittle. When he steps on your foot and you trip, show him up in front of everyone. If Jake Kuresa gets a holding penalty, slap his helmet and explode a neck vein. Pass gas in the huddle. That's leadership, they'll respect you in the morning.
Completed 41 passes for 68 percent against ranked Boston College last week, no picks in 60 tries? You should have completed 46 and 75 percent and those five other completions should have been to Todd Watkins in the end zone — even when he miss-times his jump or cuts off a route to protect himself. Be bigger, better, braver than him.
Last year, all you did is chuck it downfield to Watkins and Austin Collie. And, yeah, the masses got on your case because you didn't hit the "intermediate route" or the short pass to the backs or tight ends. But last Saturday, that short cabbage work is all you did. So, well . . . now you can do both. Go back to rifling it downfield. Long, baby. Go long, even if Watkins can't run 60 of those 80-yard sprints, just do it on principle alone, because nobody can cover him.
And give the ball to Curtis Brown. About 50 times.
Oh, and you're not tough enough. Going for it on fourth-and-two?
Sacrifice a shoulder, knee, wrist or arm. Let out some blood. Stretch out those clavicles, bursa and rotator cuffs. Don't be such a chicken. This is war.
Everyone saw you play half of last year with a shoulder separation, but you got shot up and should have done it anyway. So, coaches have pounded it into you to slide and stay healthy? What do they know?
They wanted to punt last week trailing 17-3 in the fourth with nine to go.
Mutiny, John. They're all William Bligh. Get your crew to Pitcarin Island, quick.
In the name of Bret Engemann (shoulder at Syracuse), Matt Berry (shoulder at Utah), Lance Pendleton (concussion at Utah), Berry (hand at New Mexico), this is a way of life for BYU quarterbacks in three losing seasons. So what if it's the season-opener against a nonconference foe. Sacrifice bone, sinew, soft tissue for the cause, like you did against Notre Dame last year. Berry and Jason Beck will love you.
Don't ever slide again. Keep going. Look linebackers in the face. Comment on their mothers.
It's easy, John. You are not a freshman anymore. Score touchdowns.
Win. You must get "It." McMahon, Steve Young and Detmer had "It."
And if you don't know what "It" is, then ask Bill Clinton what the meaning of "It" is.
And get it. Like, today.
Here are the MWC picks for Week 2:
AIR FORCE 34, SAN DIEGO STATE 21: The Falcons are fresh off a nifty win over Washington in Seattle, a victory that gives the league a little more respect than it had during the summer. SDSU, under Tom Craft, has had its moments with the Falcons, but today won't be one of them.
MINNESOTA 35, COLORADO STATE 17: The Gophers have the one thing that scares CSU to death: a run attack. The Ram defense could not hold a game-long lead against Colorado last week and it won't get any easier in the Land of the Lakes.
WYOMING 38, LA. MONROE 10: All the way back to Laramie from Florida, look for the Pokes to run up an easy one in War Memorial Stadium. It could get ugly for the visitors, and we don't mean overnight accommodations.
MISSOURI 24, NEW MEXICO 21: UNLV gave the Lobos all they wanted on Labor Day. The short week in preparation for this BCS foe will cut down Rocky Long's ability to shock the home team in Columbia.
TCU 38, SMU 10: The Horned Frogs are packing the MWC's bricks these days. Upon further review, after whipping the Sooners in Norman, perhaps this is the favorite to win the league title — if they can prove it against Utah in Fort Worth. Today? SMU is overmatched.
UNLV 34, IDAHO 17: Chalk up a victory for Mike Sanford in a Rebel golf shirt. His quarterback Shane Steichen was better than rumored in trying to defeat UNM last week. He had his chances before throwing a pick. He'll get the spuds at home.
UTAH 34, UTAH STATE 21: Too bad the Aggies didn't get to play Nicholls State. It is not fair, but life isn't fair, even with a ticket to the WAC dance. Look for Kyle Whittingham to shore up his second-half defense and the Ute offense to win with big plays.
BYU 44, EASTERN ILLINOIS 17: Face it, this was a scheduled win for the struggling Cougars and if they don't deliver at home this time, they should turn the place LaVell built over to high school soccer teams until the snow flies. Humbled Cougs march.
LAST WEEK: 6-2, .750