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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Only at BYU: QB Riley Nelson gets his hair cut, then apologizes for letting it get too long

Sampson of Holy Bible fame wasn't the same without his long, flowing hair. Will BYU's Riley Nelson be?

The backup quarterback who helped the Cougars come from 11 points down to beat Utah State 27-24 on Friday got his hair cut recently, and then issued a public apology on Tuesday after the Cougars' practice.

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An apology for getting his hair cut? No, Nelson said he was sorry for letting it get so long in the first place, long enough to apparently cause some concern in some quarters that it did not conform to BYU grooming standards. BYU rules say men's hair must be above the collar.

Yes, this is one of those "only at BYU" stories.

"Some people have had some fun with my hair," Nelson said Tuesday when I asked him if his life has changed much since Friday night. "By the way, if anyone cares, I apologize for any offense that my appearance may have caused Friday night. There have been some opinions expressed on that. Some people have had some fun. But again, I apologize. I was out of line."

Nelson told me Friday night after his interviews were over that the first thing BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told him, after congratulating him on the big win, was to get his hair cut.

"It just got to a point [where] I was just being a lazy, dumb college student. I didn't [go get it cut]," he said Tuesday. "You know, I just like to keep it a little bit longer, and it got long, then school started, and I didn't want to just buzz it off. Anyway, just all that. I apologize."

It is still not Jake Heaps-short (buzz cut), but it is noticeably shorter.

Check out this ode to Nelson's hair that is making the rounds on YouTube.

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There was serious talk from Nelson on Tuesday as well, although he probably set the record for "no comment" replies to questions. He basically had two after Friday's game. Tuesday, he had two no comments, two one-word answers (yup) and one answer (about reps) that didn't apply to the question. Another time he told a reporter to pose the question to coach Bronco Mendenhall, not him.

When I asked him if he wants to be the starter, he replied: "Whatever helps the team win."

Yeah, this is getting kind of fun. And it is only Tuesday.

Here's Riley:

On how the last two days of practice have been for him:

"Kind of business as usual. We are doing good, preparing for another opponent. It is nice to have a game on Saturday again, because then the preparation that we are used to as far as having Monday through Friday is going well for us."

On whether he is getting more reps in practice:

"Yeah, we are repping fine and feel comfortable with it."

On how the attitude of the team has been the last few practices:

"Well, it was an exciting, fun game to play in. Anytime you can win a close game like that, obviously morale is up and also it feels a lot better to be 3-2 than 2-3, so the morale is pretty good. The effort that we bring to practice is pretty consistent. We may waver at times as far as concentration and execution, and may get a little bit fatigued at times, but guys consistently try hard week in and week out."

On whether the team can win with him as QB:

"No comment."

On whether things have been OK between him and Jake Heaps the past few days:

"Yup."

On whether it is the same as always between him and Heaps:

"Yup."

On whether it is completely back to the fall of 2010, or whether this is a different situation:

"Coach Mendenhall can answer that."

On what is was like to beat Utah State, his former team:

"Opponent didn't matter. The W was fun. Like I said on Friday night, I have love and admiration for Utah State and its program. Wish them the best. Like I said on Friday: they have played well enough to be 4-0. Unfortunately, they are 1-3, and that's a tough spot to be in, as coach Andersen expressed after the game.

But I know they are fighters, and they have a lot of heart, and they are going to battle through WAC play, and I think at the end of the year, they will be really happy with what the result will be."

On how it made him feel when teammates said they rallied around him, played hard when he was in there:

"When your teammates pay you a compliment, obviously that's the highest form, because they are the ones who are in the locker room with you, battling day in and day out.

No offense, but when the media pays you a compliment, or a fan, they don't really know everything that is behind it. So you take it with a grain of salt. But it actually means something when it comes from one of your brothers in battle."

On coaches calling him a football player as a show of respect:

"Aren't we all football players? I would hope so. If there is starting to be a distinction between certain positions, and whether or not they are a quarterback, I don't know if I can let my sons play, because we are all football players, all 11 guys on the field, hopefully."

On whether he brings the leadership to the quarterback position that maybe has been lacking this year:

"No comment."



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