Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pilgrim in an Unholy Land...

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. 


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm sure that it makes it that much more since they are only 60 miles apart. Up in these parts football = Penn State University. Period. ;)

Aaron said...

Here is my take....the U will run back the first kickoff for the first 7 points....then the Y will kick some sorry tail for the rest of the game making them at least 21 while holding the U to the 7 points taken in the first play.

Y all the way baby.....!!!

SalGal said...

And I'll be holding that box of tissue for you when you come crying back here on Saturday night.


Anonymous said...

I'm a follower of yours so it is with some trepidation that I admit to knowing NOTHING about American football. I have seen a game or bits of, and it stops, and starts, and people fall down or are killed it seems, for how could anyone survive such collisions. there is a lot of shouting, singing, dancing and pom poms and eventually, and thankfully [for the unitiated] it all comes to an end and one team is ecstatic and the other in tears. But hey...Good luck to your team, honestly, I mean it. I want you to be happy, I really do. I love your blog, you rock...isn't that what they say?

Cecily R said...

Jon and his brothers are HUGE fans of the U. As were his dad and his brothers (his uncle's casket was draped in a Utes flag and they played Utah Man Am I when they brought it into the church...no kidding). My dad teaches at the U and my sister in law got her doctorate there. I could go on an on and on about why I am TOTALLY cheering for red...

So...will you still do PSF even though I'm now tainted in your eyes???

P.S. Jon and my dad are going to the game this year (my dad gets season tickets and takes the brothers and brothers in law to a game. This is the first year I am TOTALLY jealous that Jon's going and not me. :)

stefanie said...

Tee hee.

My favorite bumper sticker when we lived in Utah was something along the lines of:

Go Utes!
And whoever is playing BYU