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March 7, 2013
BYU Alumni Series: Hans Olsen
What was it like growing up with an uncle who is a Hall of Fame football player?
This has been a very difficult thing in my life. It's also been a great blessing. If you look at my lifes path it nearly mirrors Merlin's. I loved him very much and I've done all I can to be like him. The difficult thing is, as hard and as long as I work at it, I'll never be as great at anything as he was. I have two other uncles that were great role models. Orrin Olsen is Merlin's younger brother. He's been as much an influence as Merlin. Merlin did open many doors for me so I'm forever grateful.
Did Merlin have any fun stories about his playing days?
He had many, but the ones I've collected from other NFL greats are even better. I had lunch with Johnny Unitas when I was playing with the Colts. He told me my uncle was THE most feared man in the NFL. I also had a chance to sit down and eat with Bob Griese, he told me you had to know where Merlin was at all times or he'd break your back. Both of these men said he was the smartest football player they've ever known.
You were recruited by some of the top programs in the nation, what was that like?
It was eye opening. I was an LDS kid raised in a small Idaho village. I saw things on my trips that a young kid should never see. I had offers that a kid shouldn't ever have made to him. I was made aware that football is king and if you play well, all things are made available to you. It's really sad if you think about it.
What made you decide to choose BYU over other schools?
Lavell Edwards and the spirit. It was a prompting and a great visit with Lavell that did it. I made the decision two days before signing day.
If you were a coach at BYU and were bringing in a recruit to Provo what would show and tell them?
That there's so much fun to be had here and the fun doesn't have to come with trouble. BYU took me into the mountains for some snowmobiling, then to a private cabin at Sundance. We went dancing late and had a midnight snack. It was the only trip where alcohol was never involved. It made a big impression on me.
BYU fans have a pretty good idea of what Lavell was like as a coach, can you give some insight and any stories on some of the assistant coaches?
Ken Schmidt was my hero. If you were on his good side he'd defend you to the end. We were playing USU and the fans were KILLING me for the Merlin thing. Ken took a full water bottle and squirted them all and yelled "Be mad at me you a** holes!" I loved him for that, it took the heat off me. All the assistants were father figures. Tom Ramage played a huge role in my progression.
What was your most memorable game at BYU and why?
2000, final game against Utah. Lavell's last miracle; Need I say more? Doman to Pittman, Doman to end zone, a win in the final seconds of my senior year! WOW!
What was the best prank you witnessed or saw while at BYU?
Justin Ena and I stole Lavell Edwards's golf cart when he wasn't looking. I remember speeding off as fast as it would take us. I was taking one last look back to see if Lavell had recognized what we were doing and I hit my own helmet. Justin and I got high centered on that dang helmet. The cart was rocking back and forth, but we weren't moving. Lavell heard the noise and turned around shaking his head. It was the funniest moment of my life. He was mad, but he couldn't help but laugh.
What was the best thing you learned at BYU that prepared you for the NFL?
BYU wasn't the best place for me to prepare for the NFL. I struggled to find my groove in the league. You need thick skin and drive in the NFL, I struggled with both. BYU was a country club complete with kind coaches, church classes and insane amenities. The thing it did help me with was life after football. In the long run, that's all that matters right? My family is the only important thing in my world, and BYU helped me with the tools a father needs.
For those that do not know tell us what you are doing today?
I'm on the radio 2-6 pm every weekday on ESPN 700. I have my own sports show.
Being in the media and covering teams in the state, in your opinion where do you see BYU football in 10 years?
I'm not sure. That's so tough for me to project.
Being a part of the media you see a lot of criticism from people and never able to please everyone. Has this changed the way you think of BYU fans or BYU?
It hurts me, yes. I love BYU, and the roots for me are very deep, but I can't sugar coat things. A select few BYU fans are very judgmental. The problem now days with social media is that they can be so loud. One of the things that hurt the worst was when a person in my ward threw a harsh criticism at me on some fan board. Another listener took a screen grab and sent it to me. I was very hurt about that, someone in my own ward taking a stab at me. I will always have a very deep love for my Alma Mater. I put blood sweat and tears on that field. My best friends in this world were made at that university. It's where I met the love of my life and discovered the power of the church. It's the foundation of my education. I will always love that place, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with their sports decisions and direction. There will always be things I disagree with.
To part, what would you like to say to CougarNation?
I'm proud to be a part of you. I'm proud to have worn your colors. I always hope for the brightest future for my University.