Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Real Crimson Tide

I suppose I should state up front, that normally I bleed blue.

My college football team is the BYU Cougars. The University of Utah Utes are the enemy -- okay, the opposition anyway. The nemesis. The team you root against in all cases. The problem is, I was born with this genetic flaw that causes me to acknowledge reality and fairness. Earlier this football season -- after the Utes destroyed the Cougars -- I admitted here that Utah was the superior team (this year, let's not lose our minds here). But when they were selected to play in the Sugar Bowl, against Alabama -- a team ranked number one longer than any other team this year -- I didn't give Utah a snowball's chance in New Orleans. Frankly, many of the comments I heard from Utah fans were along the lines of "I hope they just play well." The Utes came through the season unbeaten, but not unscathed -- Utah didn't beat TCU, TCU beat themselves. But they say great teams take advantage of the circumstances they are given, and Utah is now 13 - 0. The ONLY unbeaten team left in college football. 

Today I'm a Ute fan. I'll bleed red until next September.

In 2004, the University of Utah was the first of the non-BCS automatic qualifiers to crash the party. They finished the season ranked 6th and were rewarded with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, to play 23rd ranked Pittsburgh. It was a joke, and I believe a slap in the face -- a chance to prove what the elite schools believe, that even the top team in the Mountain West Conference is no match for a mid level team from the ACC.

Utah 35

Pitt 7

Since that time non BCS schools have won twice as many of the big bowls as they have lost. This year Utah finished 12-0 in the regular season, and were ranked 6th. They are the first team to crash the party twice. This time, I think the BCS gods on Mount Olympus decided to put an end to all this foolishness, and put the upstart Utes up against a team that they had no chance of beating -- The vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide, a team just one win from the national championship. Alabama would demolish the Utes, and all of college football would know their rightful place again. 

Utah 31

Alabama 17

I believe in the law of unintended consequences. Sometimes we say things that we wish we could take back, but the thing about words is --once they're out there, they're very hard to reel back in. Alabama coach Nick Saban, before the game, and in trying to put the best spin on Alabama's only loss, at that point, to Florida, stated that the Crimson Tide were the only team to go 12-0 in a real BCS conference. I don't think he was necessarily trying to slap Utah in the face, but Utah plays best with a chip on their shoulder. The Utes didn't beat Alabama, they dominated them. The rolled the Tide. I had my questions about this Utah team for most of the year. No more. Bring on anyone. Bring on Florida, anywhere, anytime.

And speaking of Florida, can we stop talking about Urban Meyer now? Meyer coached the Utes for two seasons, and got them to that Fiesta Bowl in 2004, but it was never about the Utes -- it was the Urban Meyer show. No one is denying that he is a great coach, but he used Utah as a springboard for his own career. He didn't even stick around long enough to coach them in the Fiesta Bowl. This year they did it without him. In fact, Utah beat Alabama by more points than Florida (the only other team to beat the Tide this year) did. And Kyle Whittingham is still at Utah. 
Florida and Oklahoma will play for the BCS title. Fine. Let them have the BCS title -- that's appropriate, it's the BCS' party. But The University of Utah is the 2008 National Champion.
If you believe in fairness. If you believe in honor. If you believe in sportsmanship. If you believe in honesty. If you believe in rewarding effort and heart. Heck, if you believe in America, that is the only answer to the question of who should be crowned as the National Champion.

Utah's win was good for the Mountain West Conference. It was good for all of non-BCS football. It was good for all of college football. It was good for BYU, for that matter. If nothing else it helps to solidify the idea that the Mountain West Conference deserves an automatic bid to the big bowls. But, personally I hope that never happens. I hope teams like Utah continue to crash the elite parties, and embarrass and expose the Bowl Championship Series for the fraud that it is.



Unknown said...

You have to admit it would be interesting to see Utah play the winner of Oklahoma - Florida.

Yet another argument for a playoff system.

Chris said...

I would love to see that game Dan, and really I think that's all Utah (or any of the non-BCS teams and conferences) are asking for.
I don't know if Utah would win or lose, but they ought to be given the opportunity -- I think they've earned that much.
Bring on a playoff system!

Anonymous said...


For some reason I have always been a huge fan of his celebration dance.

uh huh.


that's right.

Val said...

Your brother must be so proud of you and your words of the U.

Wendelyn DeMoss said...

Congratulations to your Utah team! I do wish that the BCS was not a factor in the play outcomes. I have to say I am a huge OK Sooner alum and I am happy they are the ones playing Florida but in our household we agree that it's a crazy system and certainly lacks fairness. OU is among the worst talked about teams by the broadcasters from both coasts..most don't like OU. We certainly have fun cheering them on and having a team that can play well! Great insights Chris..we are huge football fans here!!

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

I'm really happy for them...nothing feels like winning...particularly my Clemson Tigers! And I agree with Dan...

Izzy, Emmy 'N Alexander said...

I am just happy Alabama lost. LOL!

I've passed on another award to you. Stop over and check it out when you have a moment.

KatieZ said...

WOW! Do you do a series for Basketball and Baseball too! Or is it just Football? This was fun to read, I have not even had a chance to keep up with any college events for the past year. So this was good for me to get caught up. I happen to like both the Utes and BYU, however when they go head to head, I have to cheer for the U. Sorry!

Great post!

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

I think this is cause for celebration! :)

Wishing you a very happy and healthy new year Chris.

Honey Mommy said...

What a great post!

I have to say that I live in Utah County... and I'm not a Cougar fan OR a Ute fan. Strange, huh?

Maybe it's because I went to school at USU for my BA then the University of Arizona for my Masters and now I work at UVU. :o)

SalGal said...

Oops, my naievete is showing... I thought the bowl system was a playoff system, no? Isn't that why the top two teams go to the Rose Bowl?

Susan said...

I totally agree with you on the BCS. It seems that deserving teams are never given the chance to earn the championship because of the popularity of other teams. The interesting thing is that I rarely hear announcers, coaches or others supporting the system and yet it hasn't been changed. Hmmmmm?
Congratulations to the Utes! I think they should have had a chance at the big show.

Straight to Your Hart said...

Can I get a "Go ReD!" Personally red works with my skin tone better and helps the players not look so washed out. It's all about the uniforms right??!!

Melissa said...

I am right there with you on this one!!!!!! First of all--- enough urban meyer... I live in FL, so all we hear about is the Gators and how Urban Meyer has made them what they are...uhhh, wrong--Steve Spurrier was a GREAT coach as well who brought them National Chamionships!!!
But, forget about him and YOU ARE RIGHT, Utah deserves to be National Champions. I don't care what people say (about "strength of schedule" BS), going undefeated and winning the bowl is a BIG feat and they should be rewarded!!