new header

June 1, 2010

The Admirable Harvey Unga

Harvey Unga had the most prolific career of any running back in the history of BYU football. Sadly, he may end up being remembered most for his recent honor code violation and forfeited senior year. As for me, I hope that he will be remembered for something more.

The fact that he confessed.

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by Harvey's admission of guilt. Here's my reasoning: I'm pretty certain that Harvey's screw up with his girlfriend wasn't known to the general public before his announcement. This was a private matter. A two person error. He could have easily concealed whatever rule he broke for a few more months to ensure that he kept playing. Who would've found him out? (True, I don't go to BYU, but a source close to the program informs me that there is not a CSI team that seeks out sin among the student body).  He could've gone on as if nothing were wrong and finished his schooling and senior football season. So why confess? Why give himself up? In this era of entitlement, why was Harvey willing to step up (or step down, really) and admit he may not deserve the chance to fulfill his dreams?

Two possibilities:

A) Because he knew he would eventually be found out; or

B) Because he believes in the principle of integrity.

If you're a BYU fan-boy like I am, you're prone to believe he confessed because of reason B. If that is indeed the case, consider how much Harvey sacrificed by admitting to having broken the honor code:

1. Statistical Immortality. Had Harvey played his senior year and rushed for at least 1,000 yards (a virtual lock to have happened), he would have become only the ninth player in college football history to have rushed for 1,000 yards in four straight years. In the last 80 years over 28,000 athletes have suited up at the running back spot and not accomplished that. Harvey would've inscribed his names in the record books with the all-time greats had he returned.

Among the many reasons the red-headed lover loved Harvey so much was this: a Ute destroyer, Harvey ran for 373 yards and 4 TD's in his three games vs. the U.

2. Future Career. By losing his senior year at BYU, Harvey gave up an additional year of TV exposure which could have improved his chances of being selected in the NFL draft. Now Unga's football future depends on being selected in the league's supplemental draft (a draft so irrelevant, it's completed via email). Historically one player per year is picked up in the supplemental draft. What this means for Unga is he's a) less likely to make it to an NFL team; and b) guaranteed to get less money.

3. His reputation. I don't know about you, but the last time I confessed a sin USA Today didn't run an article about it. And it wasn't debated on sports radio for a week. And it didn't evoke hundreds of comments on the state newspapers. Just sayin'. 

4. The dream. Harvey could have entered the real NFL draft last spring, but decided for some reason to come back to BYU for his final year. Yet whatever dreams he had in store for the year 2010 died when he admitted to breaking the honor code with his girlfriend.

Why not just lie? Why give it all up? Is honesty really worth the price of reputation, dreams, and hundreds of thousands of dollars?

For Harvey, apparently it was.


I will remember Harvey for his crushing hits. For his his dominance against Utah. For his romp through the record books. But his example of integrity may be what I remember most of all.


  1. Ironically I found out today that Steve Young, the most successful NFL player to come out of BYU, was selected in the supplemental draft (though his scenario was much different than the one being discussed). Still, guess you never know.

  2. Well put, Hansen. There is an article written by a CBS Sportswriter that touches on this same topic, however, I, a BYU fan-boy, am prone to liking your blog more.