Eye on the Y: Finally building relationships, nearly two years after taking over the beat

BYU football media day proved to be a great event to get answers and get to know coaches and players more personally.

For those that don’t remember, I came to The Salt Lake Tribune in September 2019. My first BYU football game was the ridiculously exciting USC game.

However, because the 2019 season was already underway, I had to hit the ground running without knowing any of the coaches or players. It made the learning curve that much steeper, but I survived. Then we all know what happened in 2020.

So last week’s BYU football media day was my first such event. Not only was it my first time conducting face-to-face interviews since March 2020, but my first time being part of an event sans face masks in that same amount of time.

Because we had to show proof we were fully vaccinated or take a rapid COVID-19 test if we weren’t, we were able to let down some of our defenses and enter a world where we didn’t have to worry about the pandemic, even if just for six hours or so.

It was a breath of fresh air — both figuratively and physically.

And it was the most fun I’ve had with BYU football since I started covering the team.

Sure, I had some important questions I needed to get coaches and players to try to answer (you know, a lot of them talk in circles), but I was also able to have the most random conversations with them.

I finally feel like I have some sort of relationship with these people, and getting that at a time when I, like the majority of people around the country, have been social distancing for more than a year felt like a giant bear hug.

Anyway, I got a lot of good stuff — I got 19 audio files with interviews with 25 different people — but here’s just some of the random, fun stuff I walked away with:

Fesi Sitake loves ‘The Bachelorette’

The passing game coordinator will say he loves “The Bachelor” because there’s more beautiful women, but low-key prefers “The Bachelorette.” The drama and cattiness among a large group of men is more entertaining — we all know this.

We were just two episodes into Katie’s season, so Fesi Sitake hadn’t really made up his mind about how he feels about the current season, but he plans to keep watching it.

Sign Ilaisa Tuiaki up for ‘Naked and Afraid’

BYU’s defensive coordinator isn’t a fan of trashy TV, but still likes the occasional reality TV show. Ilaisa Tuiaki’s favorite show is “Naked and Afraid” — and he would be down to have the opportunity to test his ability to survive in the wild somewhere for three weeks.

Although, he has some caveats. He wouldn’t want to go anywhere swampy. Ideally, he’d like a tropical location. There, he could survive for the rest of his life, he said.

Will Samson Nacua lose all his power?

The older Nacua brother didn’t realize committing and transferring to BYU would mean he had to get rid of a huge part of him: his hair. While at Utah, Samson had grown out a mane worthy of all jealousy and praise. But he recently cut it because of BYU’s Honor Code.

Many jokes were made about another Samson who lost his power when he lost his hair. Come fall, I guess we’ll see whether this Samson will befall the same fate.

More thoughts

• Have you gotten enough Zach Wilson content yet? If the answer is no (and I suspect it is), then head on over to YouTube. The New York Jets recently released a four-episode docu-series there. The former BYU quarterback is a prominent part of the series from the beginning, which starts before the 2021 NFL draft. Now to wait to see how Zach does this fall.

• Earlier this week, Mark Pope decided to do another “Ask Me Anything” on his Instagram stories. One of the questions he got was if he’d ever allow one of his players to date one of his daughters. The BYU basketball coach started by singing praises about his players, but quickly shut that down — he doesn’t want any of his players to date any of his girls. I don’t know why I found it so funny, but it was a reminder that Pope is a regular dad and not just a former NBA-player-turned-high-profile-college-basketball-coach.

Other voices

• How Yahoo! Sports would wager on rookie numbers for Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson in 2021.

Jets 2021 position breakdown: Will QB Zach Wilson sink or swim his rookie year?

Inside Darnell’s head: BYU football media day begins summer of questions

Normita’s Spanish Lesson of the Week



Al vernos juntos sin cubrebocas y dando la mano provocó una sensación de alivio.

Seeing us together without face masks and shaking hands brought on a sense of relief.