PROVO — There’s a famous 53-year-old pop rock song that sums up a utopian dream of BYU fans that someday the very best player and coaching talent among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could gather on campus and produce a product.
The song depicts a yearning and longing for one of those dreams just out of reach for a youngster, to have what cannot be at present in love. It was composed by legendary songwriter Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), with lyrics by Tony Asher. The song was entitled “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” The Pitchfork music website rated it the No. 7 rock 'n' roll song of the decade of the 60s.
A BYU dream team? A kind of local culture Justice League on a worldwide sports quest?
Wouldn’t it be nice.
Imagine if a combination of Mark Pope, Mark Madsen (Lakers), Kevin Young (76ers), Barret Peery, Quincy Lewis and even 60-year-old Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge were somehow cobbled together to fashion a BYU basketball staff for the faith’s flagship school.
Ain’t happening. But wouldn’t it be nice? How far could this group go in recruiting, strategy and fundraising?
It might have to be an actual “church calling” to pull it off. And, of course, that would absolutely drive rivals to go mouth-dribbling bonkers.
You could sell tickets to see that.
Is it possible that at least part of that idyllic, quintessential group could end up working together when all is sorted out in coming days?
Maybe not. But wouldn’t it be nice?
Even throw Jimmer into the mix.
In a discussion, this weekend former BYU basketball coach Steve Cleveland agreed the possibilities would be, in theory, a hit, albeit unlikely. With insertion of top-level NBA minds in X’s and O’s, in-game strategy and highly visible personalities for recruiting, it could have been a different pitch for top LDS prospects like Frank Jackson (Duke), Jabari Parker (Duke) and even, back in the day, Pope (Washington, Kentucky) and Madsen (Stanford).
“There's no question if you had that, and you don't know who's going to be the coach and you don't want to speak for him, but certainly if you had somebody with an elite NBA pedigree, it would make an impact,” said Cleveland. “Pope and Madsen were just absolute, great collegiate players at the highest level. Take Madsen, a nine-year NBA player. I mean, he personifies everything you want in a representative of a program. He’s a fighter, he was that kind of guy and he is absolutely one of the finest people you will ever meet,” said Cleveland.
If Pope is indeed the frontrunner, is it out of the realm that one of the others could bring their NBA resume and be included in a staff role? Or is it going to have to be the big guy or nothing?
“Mark Pope checks all the boxes,” said Cleveland. “But the others are very impressive.
“Madsen would be a great ambassador for the school for the program if he used an assistant role at BYU to become the head guy someday if he didn’t get the job but Pope did. I mean, he has a wonderful pedigree. And if he decided that college coaching is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, and came to put himself in a position to be a head coach? Yeah, he’d absolutely be great at it.”
As either a head coach closer or assistant in recruiting, the 6-foot-9 dark, handsome, humble, articulate Madsen would be a mother slayer on a recruiting visit. The language spoken by the majority of members of the LDS faith is Spanish. Madsen speaks fluent Spanish and is a popular frequent fireside speaker to Hispanic faithful in Southern California.
Pope is already a charismatic and polished recruiter, a likable and popular player-coach. He is endorsed by the famed Rick Pitino. Madsen has Phil Jackson’s endorsement.
Peery is a tremendous competitor endowed with drive and fire. With stops at Utah and Arizona State and SUU as well as junior colleges, he has contacts throughout the JC circuit nationally and the high school realm. He is a relentless connected recruiter. He is respected and paid his dues.
Lewis has a national high school championship trophy, which none of the others possess. He is a line to the present and past in the program. Young has fostered a resume doing the nitty gritty in the NBA’s developmental league before being elevated to a 76ers assistant.
Imagine if a Pope or Peery had a Madsen-Young type NBA influence to recruit with; a been there, done that, know that kind of approach in recruiting?
Or what if it’s Madsen and he follows in the footsteps of Cleveland, Dave Rose and Roger Reid as a first-time Division I coach and he asked a Young, Lewis or Peery to join in? Imagine if Ainge retired to golf and be a grandfather and wanted to just hang around as a volunteer advisor?
It’s legal pad scribbling, a pipe dream, of course.
But the quality of these candidates is a unique resource and if you are a BYU fan, you’d hate to see them go back to their respective corners when all is said and done in coming days.
Wouldn’t it be nice if for just once the faith’s most talented got together to kick up some dust for the brand which many believe — for better or for worse — represents the faith’s front porch?