I'm not generally a partisan kind of guy. I try to be fair. I try to see both sides of an issue.
But, I will speak up, when I feel I must. And when I see evil, I have to call it what it is. The University of Utah is the enemy. At least this week. You see, this is rivalry week. Saturday is the Utah/BYU football game, and I am a BYU fan.
In my neighborhood, that means I am a blue lifeboat, set adrift in a sea of red. I am surrounded by big, red "U's" everywhere. I am loyal to the cougars, but hesitant to display my total devotion, for fear of what the Neanderthal Utah fans might inflict upon my property. Yes, it's that kind of rivalry.
They call it the Holy War. I don't like the name, because it implies that there are religious overtones, due to the fact that BYU (Brigham Young University) is a school owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the University of Utah is a state run university. In reality, there are many Mormons at both schools, and on both football teams. The real name for the rivalry should be the Civil War. Or the Brother's War.
There are many great rivalries in college football -- USC/Notre Dame, Ohio State/Michigan. The difference between those rivalries and this? BYU and the University of Utah are only separated by about 60 miles. WE ALL LIVE TOGETHER! Families are split over this game. Neighborhoods divide.
I was raised a Utah fan, incidentally, until I realized that I was being held down by the foolish traditions of my fathers, and I saw the light. When I was in Cub Scouts, we had a cake sale. My best friend's family submitted a blue cake in the shape of a "Y," and my dad, not about to be outdone, quickly put together a red cake in the shape of "U." Those two cakes went for ridiculous amounts of money. It's that kind of rivalry
A little irony to go with this story? Brigham Young was the founder of both institutions, and the University of Utah was first. That's a favorite piece of ammunition from the fans in red.
There is a lot riding on this game, for many reasons. This year Utah is ranked 7th in the nation, and is undefeated, and looking to break into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) for the second time. BYU is ranked 14th and has only lost one game, and is looking to spoil Utah's year. This is the highest that both teams have ever been ranked when playing each other. But the real stakes have nothing to do with the teams. It's about the fans. Players come and go, but fans return year after year. And to have bragging rights for an entire year (despite the fact that you did none of the actual playing) is, to some, equivalent to winning the lottery.
Especially Utah fans. They have a real, and baffling, chip on their shoulder. They have an inferiority complex that dates back to the 1980's and early 1990's, when BYU won the game, nearly every year. It's been a lot more even in the last decade, but old grudges die hard. Besides, it's natural to get defensive when you're doing something you know is wrong -- like rooting for Utah, wearing red etc... I actually think that Utah fans get annoyed that BYU fans don't get as worked up about the game as they do. There is real hatred coming from the fans in red.
BYU has won the last two games, in spectacular fashion, and the Utes just can't get over it. And that's why they'll lose again this year. If they played with their heads a little more, and their emotions a little less, they might have a chance. But, they won't. And we'll have to listen to them cry for the next year -- that's another downside to being in such close proximity to one another.
BYU will win this game. It may not be a blow out, but poise, and the firepower of the BYU offense, will overcome the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, on the other side of the ball. In a fight between a Cougar and a Ute (whose mascot is a red tailed hawk -- what the...?), I'll put my money on the Cougar any day.
I just hope I don't have to move when the game is over. After all, some of my best friends are Ute fans.
Score: 38 - 21
ps. I'll go back to being fair and impartial next week. I promise.