COLUMN: Proud Aggie

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at hacaines@gmail.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

If you read the comments left under my column <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/opinion/article_c5fc874c-5f36-11e6-b0cd-83ea3bd71499.html” target=”_blank”>regarding BYU’s football team</a>, or that was hurled at me on Twitter, you will see that many of the commentors mentioned my affiliation with Utah State University.

This was odd. At the time, my Twitter profile made no mention of me being an alumnus of USU. Giving my column another look before sitting down to scribe this column, I confirmed that not one mention or inference of Utah State was made by Your Humble Columnist.

Because my column is originally posted on cachevalleydaily.com, which posts news stories about things that happen here (as well as stories about the Mormon Church that have absolutely nothing to do with Cache Valley as a whole), most of the BYU fanatics assumed that I was just another bitter Utah State fan jealous of the perceived awesomeness that emanates from every facet of BYU’s existence.

My favorite comments were those that suggested my association with Cache Valley, as well as the (correct) assumption that I was a graduate of USU, that I was too biased in my column.

I publish a weekly opinion column. Opinions are biased. There are some standards of journalistic ethics I must adhere to…but in general, I can proclaim my disdain for BYU with any vigor I deem sufficient.

It wasn’t always this way. When it came to BYU, I enjoyed watching them play football in the 1980’s. They played a very entertaining brand of football that ran counter to the Penn State games I watched loyally every week growing up.

It really was not until I moved to Cache Valley in 2004 that things changed. Within a year, I was a student at Utah State. I attended football games where the Aggies were getting their faces kicked in by teams from the Sun Belt Conference. I enjoyed watching the basketball team beat weaker teams by 30, only to see them quietly leave the NCAA Tournament after one game.

It was not easy being a 34 year old college student. At the time, all three of my kids were very young. I had to beat a fast path home to be there when my brood walked through the front door. I did nearly all my homework after 10 P.M. so as to have a level a quiet necessary to get through my arduous mountain of readings.

There were debates in these classes that I still remember with glazed-eyes. One thing that has always given me enjoyment has been being in a room with highly intelligent people and talking about profound subjects. I am a snob when it comes to who I allow to converse with me. I can drink beer or spend intimate time with stupid people…but when it comes to the mastery of the English language, come heavy or sod off.

Utah State gave that to me. In my very first class during my first semester, I met a kid who was not old enough to drink legally who has become my very best friend in this town. During my time as a student, I made many friends who are endearing to me. When I see them, I smile. If I am in a bad mood, a word or two from them cheers me up.

To emphasize my point further, allow me to introduce you to a silly word game I was taught as a teenager. Write down a list of five words or phrases that, in order, describe who you are. Here is my list:

<ol><li>Father</li><li>Philadelphian</li><li>Aggie</li><li>Mummer</li><li>Intellectual</li></ol>

(COLUMNIST’S NOTE: Don’t ask now what a Mummer is. I might explain it to the unknowing as we get closer to New Year’s Day.)

And this is how I get back to my preamble. If I do have a disturbingly expansive level of acerbity that I have stored within my very essence that I lob at BYU, it is because I feel that much of their pomposity rains down on Utah State. At least in my early days as an Aggie, BYU, their students, their alumni and their flunkie, zealous fans would treat USU as if we were barely an entity allowed to be in the same state as them.They acted as if we were a red-headed stepchild with head lice. BYU fans would attack us with snide comments about their purported superiority in all things related to higher education.

When something—or someone—I have unyielding affection for is maligned I get defensive. And since I have read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” many times, I know the best defense is to attack.

I can insult USU. Current students, alumni, staff or faculty can insult USU. Anyone else insults my beloved alma mater and you are going to get a piping hot bowl of Full Frontal Harry. Utah State University is family to me. Don’t go after my family.

Allow me to bring this to a close on a personal point.

When the new semester starts next week, my elder son will join my daughter as a student at Utah State. My youngest will enter 8th grade this year. He will most likely also attend USU. It is my plan to go up to campus to play racquetball, swim and have lunch with my Aggie offspring. I hope they will have the same level of pride in the “Aggie blue and fighting white” as I do. Every parent that takes their kid around campus before their first semester knows the joy I feel. In a life filled with disappointments, I will always find contentment in the knowledge that my children will share with me the distinct honor of being Aggies.

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