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September 25, 2010

Lowering the Sights

This week I experienced a first - I got last.

I'd never been last before. Not last in a footrace, not last pick in kickball.
That was before I opened the e-mail informing me I'd got a 63% on my accounting test, that I ranked 14th of 14 test takers, that I'd finished dead last of the group.

My reaction? Naturally I rejoiced.

Truth is I had expected to score around 40 to 50, so ending up with a 63 was better than I had even dreamed. I'd exceeded the expectation. And that's all it takes to make a person happy.

My associates Caitlyn Ellis and Ryan Pearson are the two who were most instrumental in teaching me this truth. Set your bar low, and you'll always end up doing better than you hoped. Expecting too much will just lead to disappointment. For example, unreachable expectations may have been the cause of the dating demise between me and the red-headed lover. That or she wanted to date a man. It's a toss up. (Stay tuned. Answer to be revealed in six months!) Low expectations, on the other hand, have brought other couples happiness time and time again (see Nathan Ballard, Nicole Blietschau).

This week in particular would be a great week for me and about 65,000 of my BYU brethren to temper our expectations a bit. I refer of course to the debut of BYU's uber-hyped freshman quarterback, Jake Heaps. Ranked the number one high school quarterback by, the expectations surrounding Heaps are enormous. The news has told us that he has the perfect arm, that he has the mind of an NFL quarterback, that he's the next in the line of successful BYU passers. We believe the news and that's what we expect to see on Saturday. However, history teaches that such expectations aren't met so easily.

Will Heaps become Detmer II or Olsen II?

The last time BYU had the number one high school quarterback in the nation (2002, Ben Olsen) the following happened:

1) He transferred to UCLA and never played a game for BYU
2) Suffered injuries for 3 straight years and was widely regarded as a bust
3) Made one trip to Provo, in which he watched from the bench while BYU beat UCLA 59-0  

When Olsen signed with the Cougars, the BYU faithful expected Olsen to become Ty Detmer II. What we got was ... nothing.

Now compare the expectations surrounding Olsen and Heaps to those surrounding the Cougars at the start of the 2007 season. The Cougs had said adieu to a host of talented players and minimal expectations fell on the newcomers, a group of unknowns including Max Hall, Harvey Unga, and Dennis Pitta. I was at the first game of this trio's career, and not a person in the stands expected Unga to become the best running back in Cougar history, or Dennis Pitta to become the greatest tight end in Cougar history, or Max Hall to become the winningest quarterback in Cougar history. The trio eventually reached those heights, but they were initially spared the pressure of such lofty expectations. I wish young Jake could be similarly spared.

Playing in front of 65,000 people is enough pressure. Trying to save a sinking season is enough pressure.  Lowering our expectations of Heaps will benefit all of us in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. Spencer being a BYU fan you should have learned to have low expectations a long long time ago.