Last summer, BYU Cougar Fan sent an early list of Christmas wishes to Santa regarding the 2007 football season. Of his 10 wishes, nearly every one was granted. Before we post Cougar Fan’s 2008 wish list later this week, let’s take a look back at last year’s letter and find out how his stocking got stuffed with some pretty amazing results …

Summer 2007

Dear Santa,

I realize my wishes are being sent rather early this year, but because college football’s regular season will be over before Christmas, it’s pretty important to get them in your mailbox this summer.

As much as I’d like to make it easy on you with a simple wish for another conference title and bowl game victory for the Cougars this year, I know the team has to achieve those goals on its own.

So here’s my list — 10 wishes that I hope you’ll consider on behalf of every fan of the blue and white.


BYU Cougar Fan

Note: Cougar Fan didn’t include a conference championship and bowl game victory in his list of 10 wishes below, but he did mention them and the results are noteworthy: A second straight undefeated conference season, second straight MWC championship and a second straight Las Vegas Bowl victory over a Pac-10 foe. After a season like that, what else really matters?

Cougar Fan’s 10 wishes for 2007:

1. That Max Hall follows in John Beck’s footsteps as ably as he did at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Ariz. And if not Mad Max, then how about Brenden Gaskins to the rescue?

Wish granted: Hall passed for 3,848 yards and 26 TDs en route to first-team All-MWC honors.

2. That Mark Weber follows up on Jeff Grimes’ great offensive line coaching and leads the O-line to an even higher level of execution and excellence.

Wish granted: The O-line yielded only 20 sacks on 503 pass attempts in 13 games (1.54 sacks per contest), good enough for 34th best in the nation. The running game averaged 144.4 yards per matchup. Is there room for improvement, though? You bet. NCAA D-1 leader Tennessee surrendered a meager four sacks on 519 pass attempts in 2007.

3. That Fui Vakapuna’s ankle is fully healed. Ditto for J.J. DiLuigi’s foot, Manase Tonga’s shoulder, Ben Criddle’s toe, Brandon Bradley’s knee, Tom Sorensen’s knee, and David Nixon’s ab.

Wish granted: Vakapuna, Tonga, Criddle and Nixon all healed enough to make huge contributions in ’07. DiLuigi redshirted, while Bradley and Sorensen both played in seven games.

4. That Austin Collie regains his freshman year form and Michael Reed continues to develop into a big-play receiver, giving the Cougars a super-duper dual wideout threat.

Wish granted: Collie was first team All-MWC with 56 receptions, 946 yards and seven TDs. Reed had a solid line of 41 grabs, 449 yards and four TDs to help keep opposing defenses on their toes.

5. That this season’s batch of Cougar tight ends (So’oto, George, Pitta, and Mahina) delivers a performance equal to that of Harline and Coats last year.

Wish granted: Pitta was first team All-MWC with 59 catches, 813 yards and five TDs. George had 17 grabs for 200 yards, and So’oto amassed 12 receptions for 124 yards. Mahina began serving a LDS mission in ’07.

6. That the entire defensive unit is as hardnosed and stingy on points allowed as last year.

Wish granted: The defense slipped just a bit, giving up 18.5 points per game — up from the 2006 mark of 14.7. Opponents’ rushing yards per game was reduced to 97.5 from 114.1 in 2006. Overall, BYU’s defense was ranked 13th in the nation.

7. That a newcomer to the program, whether a freshman or transfer, surprises the heck out of everyone with a performance like McKay Jacobson or Ian Dulan turned in last year (or Collie in ’04).

Wish granted: Redshirt freshman running back Harvey Unga earned freshman All-American and All-MWC first-team honors with 1,227 yards rushing and 13 TDs. True freshman defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna played a huge role and blocked a would-be winning field goal by UCLA in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl to preserve a Cougar victory.

8. That, like this year’s theme, the team truly “raises the bar” and take the program to the next level. To begin with, that would mean a payback over Arizona, an upset over UCLA, and certainly another spanking on the Utes.

Wish granted: The bar was raised with another 11-2 season, a second straight undefeated conference run and second consecutive MWC title; moreover, BYU earned a final AP ranking of 14th and the No. 15 spot in the coaches’ poll. The Cougars defeated Arizona, split with UCLA, and beat Utah for the second straight season.

9. That the Class of 2008 recruits live up to their word and sign their LOIs in February.

Wish granted: Well, signing is one thing, but qualifying is another. Running back recruit Seta Pohahau and wide receiver Atem Bol were both non-qualifiers and headed off to the junior college ranks. There’s never a guarantee BYU will see those athletes return to the program, depending on academic progress, risk of injury, or transferring to another school. However, several solid walk-ons, including JUCO All-America safety Andrew Rich, of Snow College, helped bolster the overall 2008 recruiting class.

10. And last but not least, that CSTV/Comcast execs get their act together and sign a contract with DISH and/or DirecTV to carry The Mtn in time for the start of the 2007 football season!

Wish NOT granted: 2007 was another painful year for Cougar Fans living outside of The Mtn channel’s tiny footprint, thanks to ineptitude galore on behalf of MWC leadership, Comcast and CSTV. Fortunately, these monkeys finally got their act together and hooked up with DirecTV during the winter.