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July 21, 2014

Toby Christensen Joins CougarNation

I'm appreciative and excited about the opportunity to write for CougarNation.com. During my father's last years, he found great pleasure in writing articles for the Daily Herald and the Mtn. Network. Oftentimes he'd call me up and tell me to check my email because he was about to submit an article and wanted my opinion on it before he gave the final ok. Normally, when he wanted my opinion, that meant he'd taken a strong stance on a topic and wanted to make sure it didn't come across in a controversial manner. Even though he was staunch in his stance, he always wanted to make sure it was expressed in a respectful manner.

I enjoyed those conversations with my father and when Mr. Robbins asked for assistance writing for the site, I couldn't help but think of those articles my father and I spent all that time discussing the past few years. I guess you could say a wave of nostalgia washed over me and I was grateful for the chance to once again, follow his lead in something he loved to do.

My background in football is relatively extensive. I was born in Dallas when my father was in his rookie season playing for the Dallas Cowboys. Football wasn't just part of my life, it was the driving force. We moved as a family to Oakland and then to Los Angeles to support my father's football playing career. After 11 years in the NFL, my father went straight into broadcasting as a color analyst for NFL games. He was a broadcaster in some capacity for the next 25 years until he passed away in November. I've been around football since the day I was born.


I didn't seriously start playing until I was in 7th grade and quickly learned to love playing it even more than I loved watching it. I'll never forget sitting in LaVell Edward's office with my parents in December of 1996 and being offered a scholarship to play football for the Cougars. What a moment. I was still undecided at the time but my father's excitement was pleasantly surprising. All along I honestly couldn't tell if he had a preference. I wasn't a big recruit by any means. I had a handful of interested schools but seeing my father's excitement definitely made a difference in my decision.

He had played for Brigham Young from 1974-1977 and started all 4 years as a fullback. I had the privilege of following suit and playing for BYU from 2000-2003. I wasn't the most gifted athlete but I did ok with what I had. After BYU, the Houston Texans were nice enough to call me and invite me to rookie minicamp. That was a fun week and a great experience. The cards weren't stacked in my favor and I was realistic about my chances. I had a good camp but was not invited back as I kind of expected. (Although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't holding out hope a little bit. I'm only human)

Since that experience with the Texans in 2004 I've had the opportunity to jump into the media side of football on a number of occasions. I've worked with all the local radio stations a time or two and spent 6 years doing sideline reporting and studio analysis for the Mtn. Network. I also spent one spring traveling with the Utah Blaze and calling their games on the radio. I look forward to sharing a different perspective on BYU football. Hopefully I can provide a different angle that people are looking for.

I do plan on sharing my opinion from time to time and doing it in a respectful manner, even if it isn't the popular opinion in the moment. But I'm smart enough to know there's a reason that Coach Mendenhall has his job, and a reason Tom Holmoe has his job.

Just because I may not agree with something they may have done in the past of something they might do in the future, doesn't mean I don't still respect the position they hold. Reminds me of a time in 2001 when we were 4 weeks into the season. We were 4-0 in Gary Crowton's first year as head coach. Reno Mahe was our star receiver and Soren Halladay was our veteran presence as well. Andrew Ord, Justin Anderson, and Rod Wilkerson were rotating at the X-receiver position and Mike Rigell and I were backing up Reno and Soren and rotating in 4-WR sets. With all those guys I wasn't playing as much as I would have liked.

I was just a sophomore but felt like I'd done well when I had opportunities but wasn't getting as many as I deserved. I remember our offensive coordinator, Mike Borich, called me into his office. He was intense and I thought he was great (may he rest in peace). He looked at me and said, "You think you should be playing more, don't you?" I said, "Coach, we're 4-0.

I may not agree with the amount of playing time I'm getting but you must be doing something right because we haven't lost and I have no reason to question what you're doing." I respect what the coaches do even if I don't always agree with their decision making. It isn't easy. And I admire the work and effort they put in and hopefully as I share my opinion I'll be able to respectfully explain why sometimes I may disagree with them.

In addition to sharing my opinion I hope to be able to catch up with old Cougars as well as current ones. I'd like to give thoughts on practices as well as news on recruits. And I'm absolutely open to anything else CougarNation would like to hear about. I'm very much looking forward to football season.


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