BYU Football: The Death of a Rivalry: BYU vs. Utah

Source: Herald Extra
Source: Herald Extra

The folowing was submitted by our good friend R TODD GRAHAM:

It’s November 27, 2010. This is what the whole year had come down to.  BYU was having a down year–they had just won their sixth game and become bowl eligible.  Beating hated rival Utah would have made the whole year worth it.

For three Quarters the Cougars dominated.  Then the Utes scored 17 unanswered points in the 4th and blocked the potential game winning field goal as time expired.  As a BYU fan, I was in pain.  I hated when the Cougars lost to Utah.  They could lose every game and beat Utah and I’d still be happy, or if they won every game but lose to Utah I would feel they failed.

At least that’s how I felt back then.  Fast Forward to today….

Last season there was no rivalry game.  There was no blocked field goal tearing my heart out, no “Harline is still open”, or “George is still running.”   There was no game at all–how did it come to this?  Is the rivalry dead?

Just another game:

It’s a loaded question – is it dead?  In many ways the rivalry is dead.  Even the last two years it was played seemed like just another game.   They started playing it in September. The winner wasn’t winning the conference championship or getting a better bowl game because of it.  It was no longer a matter of life or death.

BYU has lost the last four rivalry games and that’s disappointing. That may be responsible for some of the rivalry’s death.  Every one of those games, other than the 54-10 nightmare, has been a toss up.   Either team could’ve won, and even losing the last four, BYU still had “successful” seasons as an independent.  There was no way that could have been the case when they were conference foes.

The Cougars need to get momentum or this will turn into a one sided rivalry.  The Jazz view the Lakers as a rival, but it was one sided and the Lakers didn’t share that view for years.  Why? Because the Lakers didn’t view the Jazz as a threat.

Fan hatred:

One of the things that makes, or made, the rivalry so intense was that it pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and sometimes husband against wife.   The fact that if your team lost you had to hide in a hole in order not to be harassed about it made it personal.

I grew up in a house divided, my dad is a die-hard BYU fan, my brother is a die-hard Utah fan, and I at the age of seven decided to be a BYU fan with my dad.  My brother is the biggest jerk when rivalry time comes.   The Utes are the end-all-be-all, and BYU is worthless, self righteous and just plain terrible.  My brother married another Ute and had three other little Utes.  Watching the game every year got more and more painful.  I wanted Utah to lose just as much (if not more) than I wanted BYU to win.

Now I am to the point that I don’t care what Utah does.  Win or lose, they are just doing their thing.  I am even to the point that in the fall I am going to go back to school to finish my Bachelors, somewhere I never thought I would go:  The University of Utah.  It doesn’t mean I don’t hate the best choice in front of me.  It’s not going to stop me from wearing a BYU shirt the first day of class.

Final word:

Is the rivalry dead?  Not yet…

I would put the status of the rivalry as “on life support”.  To a lot of the players the hatred is gone, but if you check Twitter, you’ll see the bickering between fans never ends.  We will have to see how the competition goes when they play each other in football again.  Will it make it through?  That’s not up to most of us.  It’s up to the next generation of fans.  If recruiting is any indication, the newer generation is more interested in going to Oregon or USC than either Utah-based school anyway.  It is up to them, but it doesn’t seem personal enough for the local high school kid today.  I have watched BYU alum’s children go to Utah instead of BYU.  All signs are pointing toward the death of the Holy War, but it will remain undetermined until they take the field again.

About the author

Alan "Jedi" Zaugg

Alan “Jedi” Zaugg is managing editor of TornBySports and host of the Jedi & Jerms podcast. He’s an avid NBA fan and basketball junkie and passionate sports enthusiast. He enjoys writing and illustrating. He hosts a Star Wars podcast and writes for The Cantina Cast in addition to a myriad of other projects. He also writes fantasy and science fiction in his spare time. You can follow him on Twitter: @jedizaugg

  • choke

    Makes me want to sing, “Let it die…. Let it die…”

  • J

    The only reason i think it’s not dead is because when you said you’d wear your BYU shirt to class on campus at the U my immediate reaction was that you would instantly be harassed about it. The fire is still there.