UTE HANGOUT: Reaction to Chris Hill’s Rivalry Extension Announcement

What was your first impression about the announcement from Chris Hill?

Ute Football Central
Panelist 1: Ute Football Central

UTECENTRAL:  Why today?  Why make a pseudo announcement of the real announcement coming in August?  I wonder if they were tired of being bugged about it up on the hill by boosters and season ticket holders.

Matt Hugie: I guess I have more questions than answers too.  What happens with the Utah State game? Can we expect to play BYU, Utah State and Weber State every year.  Nothing solves the state supremacy question like playing every team (no offense to Southern Utah) right?  I was happy with the rivalry going away in all honesty so my first impression is disappointment.

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Panelist 2: Utes of Utah

UtahsMrSports: I have to echo what Matt said above.  Although I figured it unlikely that the series would all together die out, I was hoping for a longer break than the two year hiatus in 2014 and 2015.  It’s certainly not that I feel that Utah has outgrown BYU or moved on, but I just felt the rivalry needed a break.  I can’t really say that I am “excited” for the games themselves.  Any excitement over this announcement is that now I don’t have to listen to how “chicken” Utah is whenever I turn on my radio.

UTECENTRAL:  @MattHUGIE, you bring up a valid point.  I think the days of playing two in-state games are dwindling and it could be a long time until we see it again.  I don’t believe that the Utah State games is all that valuable to the program.  It’s one of those “If you win, well you were suppose to win” and not worth much on the national scene.  If you lose, well then life sucks!  So playing the Aggies is not something I’d like to see very often, especially in Logan.

UTESOFUTAH: I’m excited. I do agree woth @UtahsMrSports that a break in the rivalry will prove therapeutic, but two years is long enough. After the hiatus, by 2016, the Utes’ revenue will be at PAC-12 level, as well as talent and depth across the board. With time to earn money and recruit PAC-12 talent, Utah will be ready to play its rival any time of year just like USC and Stanford do.

Panelist 3: Matt Hugie

Matt Hugie: Personally I’ve never understood the “chicken” argument, although I can’t claim to understand most of their knocks.  Why would we be “chicken” to play you now as it seems like Utah is dominating this series as of late. Why aren’t more BYU fans disappointed that they have to lose to Utah two more times this decade?  That seems like a more logical complaint of the return of the rivalry game.

Q:  Who benefits most from this game and why?

Matt Hugie: Has to benefit BYU the most.  They have more scheduling concerns as an independent at the current than does Utah.  I think some fans were sorely disappointed when they learned of the hiatus.  They too will be excited by this announcement and the prospect that it will return to its glory as a late-season slugfest.  I’m not entirely sure how Utah benefits.  Sure the players will get up for a big game against long-time rivals but, other than add another difficult challenge on the schedule,I don’t see the payoff.

UtahsMrSports: I don’t know that it benefits either school more.  I think that the victor has a nice win to put on their resume and something to use on the recruiting trail, but little else.  Ignoring the two teams, I would say that it benefits those that have grown up with this rivalry and have managed to enjoy it for what it is.  They will continue to be able to do so.

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Panelist 4: UtahsMrSports

UTECENTRAL:  Who benefits the most?  Utah get little credit nationally or locally when they beat the Cougars, especially since we are constantly reminded that the Cougs haven’t “shown up” to play this game for three years running.  In my humble opinion, the game most certainly favors BYU and BYU’s scheduling and in-state credibility needs.  Utah’s Pac-12 schedule is and will always be jam packed with great games every year.  Did I mention Oregon is coming to Rice-Eccles next season?

Matt Hugie: And don’t forget Stanford this season.  USC in the house every other year.

UTECENTRAL:  It’s a good day to be a UTE!  Everyday is a good day to be a UTE!

UTESOFUTAH: The rivalry game hands down benefits BYU more than it does Utah! The Utes has the 12th most difficult schedule this year while BYU’s “toughest schedule ever” ranks at a mediocre 49th in the country in difficulty. Utah will have a top 30 difficult schedule full of marquee games EVERY year in the PAC. Thus, BYU NEEDS Utah for strength of schedule, but not visaversa. However, as a Ute fan, I need the rivalry game to quiet my annoying neighbors, so good job Dr. Hill!

Matt Hugie: @UTESOFUTAH: You must have better neighbors than me then.  Results on the field have rarely amounted to the shuttering of the mouths of the Cougar faithful.

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Panelist 5: RobJackTBS

RobJackTBS: In my opinion, this game benefits BYU the most. They have had challenges scheduling big time games in November and this certainly helps their November schedule. If Utah is having a rough year, playing BYU at that time could be good for the program and would keep fans interested in a November game. I hate to use that mind set and planning on failing, but it is something to think about.

Matt Hugie: Actually what you describe is pretty accurate nationwide. However, a quick recap of the rivalry game, or even a scoreboard comment, tends to leave them speechless pretty quick.

Q:  What have you thought of the rivalry game since the move to the Pac-12?

UtahsMrSports:  It hasn’t been the same.  I remember in 2010, the last year of it being at the end of the season, that I was just sick with anticipation.  They were coming in on fire, we were lagging a bit and it was just intense all the way through.  You would always spend the entire season keeping an eye on them and seeing how they did compared to how we did against the MWC foes.  Now, you really don’t have that opportunity.  A couple of games with no common opponents and there you go.  I will say, it is somewhat nice to have it out of the way.

Matt Hugie: I agree with UtahsMrSports.  The anticipation of the game has died down a bit as both teams have much different goals and opponents. I also think it’s been nice to focus on BYU over the course of one week and then move on to conference play.  I think the game used to involve an entire season’s worth of trash talk leading up to the game and the several months following for the victor.   That’s not so much the case anymore.  I don’t think the animosity amongst fans has changed, however, as evidenced by the MUSS storming the field and getting in the faces of BYU players in the most recent contest.

UTECENTRAL:  I was originally fine with the game being moved up to September, but Rivalry Week just sucks when it’s that early in the season and the gloating period isn’t that great either when the games are played early on.  I think if Chris Hill and the Pac-12 can make the end of the season games work, they should do it.  It’s clear that this game brings in ratings and the conference is all about great games and primetime TV, so the formula works.  Get it done Mr. Scott!

Matt Hugie: @UTECENTRAL: Someone posed this scenario to me about that November game after the announcement:  What if in 2018 the Utes had just one loss, had already clinched a spot in the PAC-12 title game and were likely headed to the four-team BCS playoff with a win in that game.  Would you still like to play a not-so meaningless game against your bitter rival?

UTECENTRAL:  @MattHugie, touche my friend, however, this type of scenario seems so distant to me after a 5-7 campaign that it’s hard to fully appreciate the dilemma you’re proposing.  That sort of talk sounds like the annual BYU National Championship talk that just kills their credibility within the program and within their fan base.  I don’t think the game is completely meaningless, but if that’s what you’re suggestion, but I do think that the Utes earn very little “street cred” with a win and get hammered if they lose.

UTESOFUTAH: If USC and Stanford can afford to play Notre Dame towards the end of the season, why can’t the Utes do the same with their rival? I love the confidence Chris Hill has in our program scheduling the rivalry game late in the season. After all, we have one 8 out of the last 11 rivalry games. Maybe the “process” Whittingham talks about has a light at the end of the tunnel, 2018.

ROBJACKTBS: I wouldn’t mind playing them at that point in the season with all of that on the line. We clinched a spot in both the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl after having dominant wins over them. If it’s that type of a season i’d feel confident in Whittingham and the Utes

Matt Hugie: @ROBJACKTBS: That’s a good point.  Utah has always taken care of business when they’ve had a good team playing for all the marbles.

Q:  What is your dream scenario when it comes to scheduling of this game and why?

Matt Hugie: My dream scenario is to not play the game at all.  Sorry folks, I’ve been involved in too many games where fan interaction gets way out of hand.  I don’t think either school would be impressed at the actions of their fans and/or sometimes players  both leading up to and during the game.  The animosity has reached a boiling point and I don’t think this short hiatus will change that.  If we have to play the game, I’d like to see an every other year format splitting games between BYU and Utah State.  What about a neutral site where fans are forced to watch on TV? Not a serious suggestion as that’s obviously not a good business decision, but it may prevent some of the angst among fans.

UTESOFUTAH: I honestly don’t mind the game being early in the season as it has quieted cougar nation sooner rather than later. However, if other PAC-12 teams can invest the emotional and physical energy of a rivalry game late in the season, so should the Utes. Let em play in November Larry!

RobJackTBS: My dream scenario is not to play this game as often and when we do, to have the game early in the season. I don’t mind the ONE November game in 2018 though and if Utah is having a special season, that game could be huge for the program. We better not have a November game vs. BYU on the road though. No reason to ever do that.

Matt Hugie: @RobJackTBS completely agree that Utah should never play a late-season game at Lavell Edwards Stadium.  I suppose under that format I could support playing the game once every few years.

UtahsMrSports: I think I find myself with you guys on this.  Instead of every year, why not mix it up with Utah State?  Here is another thing that no one is talking about:  Texas.  In the MWC, we had a built-in trip every other year to one of college football’s hotbeds and that is huge for recruiting.  Mom and Dad love to watch Johnny play in person and when they can do it without travelling far, all the better.  IMO, we ought to play one in-state game per year, and try to get home and homes or “two for ones” with teams in Texas.  Then fill in the gap with whatever is left.

Q: Some think a November game would favor BYU as they would be coming off a softer slate of games than Utah’s PAC-12 calendar.  Do you agree? Does that bother you?

Matt Hugie: I guess I don’t really buy into the, “you played Idaho the week before and therefore are better prepared for this game because we played Oregon.”  A bye week can be beneficial leading up to a game as it gives you two weeks to prepare for one team, but we’ve all seen how taking a peek at next week’s game can cost you the one you’re playing this week.  In that sense, I don’t think a late-season game would benefit BYU over Utah because of their schedule.

UTECENTRAL:  Last time I checked, the Utes have exactly one guaranteed win on the schedule with Weber State.  The other eleven games are going to be tough, hotly contested and can’t in any circumstances be considered a “gimme”.  A late game definitely favors BYU which has typically had a softer schedule in November since moving to independence and even has those coveted November bye-weeks that everyone wants.

UTESOFUTAH: A game in late November would favor BYU, but if Chris Hill and Kyle Whittingham want to schedule it, I’m not opposed. If they see any benefit in playing the rivalry game late season, then I trust their confidence that Utah will prevail.

UtahsMrSports: At this point, I don’t know that it would favor either school.  Maybe BYU manages to get a tough schedule consistently in November while Utah gets the lower half of the conference.  Hard to say right now.  To me, its almost moot anyway.  In this rivalry, can ANYONE confidently pick how things are going to go, regardless of home field, prior opponents, injuries, etc.? I can’t.

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  • Les Claypool

    News flash to UteNation..just because you have PAC12 decals all over your belongings doesnt mean magical PAC12 recruiting classes and conference titles are on their way. Only Washington St has a smaller PAC12 football stadium..ouch (Wazzu has been in the PAC10/12 since ’62 and are still waiting for these magical recruiting classes that you speak of) The U also ranks at the bottom of the PAC12 in graduation rate and ACT scoring..all of which are typically considered by top recruits. Sorry folks. Like Iowa St, Vanderbuilt and Wake Forest..being the perennial dormat of a BCS conference doesnt always equate to BCS conference success. Reference UTESOFUTAH’s creative logic “by 2016, the Utes’ revenue will be at PAC-12 level, as well as talent and depth across the board. With time to earn money and recruit PAC-12 talent, Utah will be ready to play its rival any time of year just like USC and Stanford do”. Well said. The 2 year Holy War hiatus will serve UteNation well and help reset wildly inaccurate expectations. Having your bowl game against BYU in September wont seem so bad.