Growing up in So Cal, I didn't know anything about the BYU-Utah rivalry until the mid 90s. It's a pretty crazy thing to step into. The thing I find funny about Utah fans in general is they pretty much define themselves by this rivalry. Most that I know don't really follow their team unless it's an undefeated BCS year, then out come the red sweaters, they hop around to Utah man and mumble the words to a song they don't know, and spit venom in the direction of BYU. It's funny, but actually pretty sad. I feel sorry for most Utah fans I know because they don't have a tradition to love. All most Ute fans have to hang their hats on is last year's Sugar Bowl. Very cool. But one year of history is a sad thing to get excited about. So why do Utes hate the Cougs so much? Here's why....
1. Who's your Coach? Ute fans are totally confused about who they love. They ran Ron McBride out of town and don't know how to feel about that. Then Urban came to town with promises and then left in lies (how many of us know Utes who follow the Gators as their adopted second team now?). Then you had to go out and hire a former Cougar to run your team. Do you love Whittingham or do you hate him? He's a Cougar leading the Utes no matter how you look at it. There's no LaVell to name your stadium after. And all Ute fans are just waiting for the day Whit leaves for bigger money and a stadium that pulls more than 35,000 bandwagoners a game.
2. It's tough to love Big Brother. And that's what BYU is and always will be to the Utes. No matter how much success the Utes have, they will always define themselves by their hatred for BYU; hence, they will never be able to exist without us. They will always wish they had the tradition, the fan base, the sellout crowds, the National title, the museum full of conference dominance hardware. You go to a BYU game and you feel the tradition. The few thousand that trickle into a Ute game because their office gave them free tickets feel something if it's a BCS season, but otherwise, they feel nothing because Big Brother has the glory. If Utah disappeared, BYU fans would still fill their stadium and soon forget the Utes. If BYU disappeared, so would half the Ute fans who didn't really follow the Utes - they just had "fun" hating the Y.
3. Where is that fan base? When so many of your fans define themselves by hatred of another school, it's tough to translate that hatred into paying for season tickets and filling the stadium. It's tough to travel more than a few thousand alumni who actually have school pride. The hater fans don't travel unless they think everyone is watching on TV and they can feel a part of the momentary glory of an undefeated season. Hater fans don't pay for season tickets because they don't really care about the "other" 12 games on the schedule. Mice Speckles Stadium is virtually empty compared to the crowds at LES. The Blackouts are cool, but half those "Utes" don't know more than 5 guys on the team.
4. Where's the tradition? Ask any Ute fan 50 and under to name 5 glorious moments in Ute history, and most will only be able to say, "2004 and the Sugar Bowl last year." And even then, they mumble 2004 because they know they went in on a rented coach who lied to the fan base and flipped them the bird for more money, and they played in the lamest BCS bowl ever against the lamest BCS team ever in Pitt. They can't even cheer for Alex Smith anymore. So, most Ute fans can only define themselves by the Sugar Bowl. And when you look at that, it's really nothing. It's one game against a team that didn't want to be there in a bowl that didn't mean anything. Even the Sugar Bowl "Champion" t-shirts don't give much credence to the word "champion." The champions of what? So, Utes basically have a One Year History. That's tradition? The Utes will ALWAYS hate BYU because of the last 30 years of conference dominance, Top 25 rankings, Heisman Trophy, National Championship, bigger crowds, sellouts, LaVell Edward's legacy, and a national fan base the Utes could only wish for. The Utes have no genuine tradition other than hating the Cougs. Sad.
So, on this rivalry week, I begin by feeling pity for the lowly Utes and their lack of tradition, honor, and pride. You have nothing to cheer for Ute fans, except Urban Meyer, your adopted Uncle, if he wins another title. Wear those Sugar Bowl Champion t-shirts one more month, because they will soon have to be retired. I hope you enjoy your time with our Cougar Son, Coach Whittingham. Each win under his guidance is really just another mark in favor of the Cougars. It took one of us to lead you to where you are. Love your Cougar coach, and treat him well until he leaves you and your traditionless program for greener pastures.
Rise and Shout!