A season-long story worthy of Netflix
By: Steve Schwartzman
We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, general reading public, so I’ll just take the initiative and kick things off with something personal.
My father and I don’t really get along. I won’t dive deeply into specifics, but much like every Kevin Costner film portrays, daddy and little Steve couldn’t have been more different. Dad was hard knocks, Steve was critical thinking. Dad hit things head on, Steve wanted to work smart instead of hard. Dad was a renegade, Steve a philanthropist. Had medical witnesses not given written testimony to the exact womb I was abscessed from you’d easily question the possibility of us ever having any blood connection, we’re just that different.
Lucky for fate, however, two factors still link us: our gigantic Grecian noses and our unspeakable love for sports.
Dad was blessed with enough privileges that he lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s and had enough worthy connections to consistently get him into the Great Western Forum during the Laker Showtime Era. Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Pat Riley – hell, even Jack Nicholson – were the knights in shining armor in my bedtime stories. Larry Bird and Bill Laimbeer were the dragons and otherwise villains, and the Larry O’brien Trophy was the damsel in distress. I could have listened to his stories for hours.
But that is what it was all about, you see. Stories. Statistics are one thing. Endless arguments about who-is-better-than-who have their place are another, but nothing truly imbues the honest importance sports can have on a society, myriad of hearts and lessons and simply a way of life much like those anecdotes of where you were and what you were doing when. Stories are what make an organization memorable, notable, and in many ways even important. If you’re a team and you have a story you’ve finally made it in some way.
If you ask this humble citizen, he’d even say it is the core gem to the turnaround of the Utah State University football program. Blame it on white out games, overtime miracles over in-state rivals, really fast Kerwynns, even faster Joe Hills, Jake Doughty simply eating place kickers, Potato Bowl vengeance or anything else between the lines; a season of Aggie Football is no longer just football, but a hallowed storybook. A storybook that begs for legitimacy.
But even then, it’s more. This program finds note not only in quality but attitude. It’s about swagger, it’s about lifestyles, it’s about change. This team isn’t just a story book, it’s a bona fide TV program all its own. A Netflix original. A cult classic, a binge-watching-when-you-should-be-doing-homework kind of a dinger. And if you don’t believe me let’s get a plot synopsis of every episode we can expect next season. All clues point to you being as anxious for this season to stream live as I am.
Episode 1 – Utah
New coach, new energy. The Aggies survived camp and are going to waste no time braving a self-proving test as they head to Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City week one. Coming off the thriller of thrillers from the previous season, Coach Matt Wells and his iron-clad men look to turn a late-game miracle into an all-season expectation. Will the Utes rebound with another advertised juggernaut defense and maintain long-term dominance with an in-state foe or will USU bolt the tables turned on their opponent’s home turf? Intrigue. Character. Unity. Triumph. Heartbreak. Season premier. Tune in.
Episode 2 – Air Force
Having just braved an immediate test for the season the Aggies head to Colorado for a test with one of the toughest crowds and most disciplined teams in the country. The struggle in this story? Handling life from home. Joe Hill has a rather heartfelt letters-from-home montage in this episode to motivate him for an inevitable heroic resolution on the field.
Episode 3 – Weber State
Homecoming Special! Special guests, musical performances and maybe even some football. What this episode may lack in football competition it definitely gains in ovations for Chuckie Keeton, who solidifies his numbers and promise of creating a stalwart program with his cast.
Episode 4 – USC
In what could be the marquee episode of the season (the kind you hold Emmy nominations to) the Aggies rally around Coach Wells and head to Los Angeles for their truest test. It’s a young and in some places empty squad at USC, but the reputation alone says this will take work, skill and will to overcome. A pair of juggernaut defenses, a newfound, big conference quarterback for Chuckie to throw stones with and that doesn’t even mention a pair of running games that just could make all the difference. The Aggies flashback painfully to fall short recently on big stages, pushing forward in the knowledge that just because it takes a miracle doesn’t mean it’s impossible. This two-hour long network special is sure to leave you in your seat and shocked for what’s in tow season long.
Episode 5 – San Jose State
Suddenly the protagonist team usually hell-bent on vengeance is now the team pinned to be avenged. SJSU senior David Fales still feels the sting of the 13 sacks from just a season ago and there is no telling what he’s found up his sleeve to make the tables turn. The USU linebacker core will gain a highly dramatic principal role in this episode as the Aggie defense looks to set a precedent for their ability to play along the Spartan system. It’s sacks vs. paybacks, it’s Chuckie vs. Fales, it’s a national stage, it’s the dark horse Mountain West Conference game of the year. This is must-see television.
Episode 6 – BYU
What, to many viewers, is the most anticipated episode of the season, much like anytime a TGIF show is on location at Disneyland. The bitter foe Cougars make their slithering entrance to Romney Stadium in hopes newfound “savior” Taysom Hill will save them from dwindling in unbelief via an Aggie defense entirely sold on paralyzing him from the jaw and Chuckie Keeton looking to get that holier-than-thou BYU monkey from his proverbial back. This episode has a gritty, wind-tone, Johnny Cash feel to it. The anti-hero and the shiny villain. Picture Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV except there are eleven of each of them and it takes place on turf. And what’s more, this episode is a two-parter, as the pre-game campout may need an episode all its own.
Episode 7 – Boise State
The oft-intimidating, blue-turfed, faster-than-bullets Broncos, surely hauling all of their savage ranch-ready clan of fans into Romney for what may very well be the most important day of football in the history of Cache County. The Aggies face easily their toughest possible test with sleeping potentially on a deceptive standout in Joe Southwick and all hopes they can move the ball past fast-footed gorgon Demarcus Lawrence. But true to form, the Aggies bring formidable weapons, namely the only real way past an Idaho-grown power-ball hubris: a stalwart running game. From Hill to Robert Marshall and the list goes on, the Aggies have the leg power to weaken the Broncos’ resolve and just maybe place themselves in current elite status. The only question: can they do it?
Episode 8 – New Mexico
It’s been a cavalcade of episode highlighting tough opponents and this episode feels like a promise of some easy-going, bottle episode-esque feel-goodery.
Not so fast.
You see, the New Mexico Lobos don’t go down easy. A quick-paced offense, fourth quarter presence that got them within a touchdown of five different teams last season, and some closet marquee playmakers such as running back Kasey Carrier – sincerely no better name for a running back in football history – are all the Aggies need to see to it they straighten up and fly right to keep any given momentum.
Episode 9 – Hawaii
Chuckie needs his Hawaii win.
Two years removed from a season-ending injury Keeton had to watch the come-from behind paradisiacal miracle and push to resurgence of his team from hospital bed. Anyone who knows Chuckie knows just how proud he had to be of his brothers, but those injuries linger with a player. A win on home turf could imbue a lot of clarity and a stronger push forward, and this show runner can’t make any bold predictions but, eh, just plan on it.
Episode 10 – UNLV
UNLV is young. Very young. On the rise young. This episode comes down to the prowess and dramatic heartfelt monologue of Coach Wells to keep the boys in check.
Episode 11 – Colorado State
It’s always fun bringing former coordinator Dave Baldwin into town. Also some worthy camera time for Doughty every feasible special teams play. You know why.
Episode 12 – Wyoming
It’s the Season Finale, and don’t let anyone tell you it’ll fall short of exciting. The team completing their rise plays a team just in the heat of their rise. It’s a marquee quarterback for good in Keeton against up-and-coming dark horse stand out Brett Smith. It’s a challenge that looks nothing like a challenge for the Aggies, but Keeton’s Heisman hopes, the team’s BCS hopes and any other forms of momentum could accelerate or stop at a screeching halt if minds are set to stun and/or kill against the boys from Laramie.
Still think Aggie Football hasn’t made it? These streaming episodes and, who knows, up to two more can tell us one thing: we can’t call an undefeated season, we can’t promise overwhelming success, we can’t even say where any given win will come, but if nothing else…
…it’s going to be one heckuva story.