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A Contentious Cougar

In case you're unaware, VTF has a Facebook page where you can also discuss Max Hall's comments and all things Cougars. If you're looking for something more specific in terms of social networking, you might try joining the group, "Max Hall Should Have His CTR Ring Taken Away" or "Max Hall Said What Everyone Else Was Thinking." I guess it depends on your point of view. Perhaps the most successful of these groups (with 7,000+ fans and counting) would be the one endorsed by Block U: "Max Hall Hates Me And Thinks I'm Classless."

This is truly a debate involving two extremes. The reasonable Cougar/Ute fan would surely not egg Jaime Hill's car or punch Jamie Whittingham or douse McKinzi Hall with Polygamy Porter. Those who perform such acts are neither good representatives of the schools' they profess to root for, nor are they symbolic of the state's culture in which most of them reside. They are idiots plain and simple. Gordon Monson was correct in his assessment:

"Maybe, just maybe, everyone can learn from this whole thing. Maybe everyone can learn that there really is too much animosity and antipathy, too much bitterness and nastiness, too much malice and rancor in this rivalry. Too much hatred. Too much hatred mixed with religion. There's guilt on both sides in this state, the red and the blue."

So while Hall's comments were "from the heart," that made his apology on Sunday all the more necessary. But Hall also isn't the one who began this feud (and he assuredly wasn't calling for fans to enact vengeance) and deep down even the non-extremists are involved on some level. A healthy rivalry is extremely fun for everyone, but when it takes a terrible turn toward those altercations in the stands and elsewhere, a line must be drawn. Hopefully we can all recognize where that line is and encourage others - no matter their allegiances - to act respectfully. As VTF member heyjoe! said yesterday:

"I guess we all need that rivalry 'kill switch' where when we realize it is getting a little too personal, or a little too 'real,' then we need to kill it."

That said, my take is that Hall openly stated the opinion of many Cougar fans. (Morgan Scalley did the same for Ute fans in 2004.) As such, Hall has publicly proclaimed what many have wished to express "ab aeterno" but either haven't been permitted or simply haven't had the guts to say. For some then I can see how the QB's words bring relief. (That is still not condoning the unfortunate incidents involving Coach Whittingham's family or anyone else.) Many BYU fans don't want to say such things out of fear of being portrayed as sanctimonious. And rightly so...

You see, the truth is that both sides have impolite and obstinate fans and each group needs to clean it up. But when a BYU fan, or even occasionally a student athlete, acts in an ill-mannered way, he/she is labeled as pharisaic and just another "zoobie" hypocrite. When Ute fan acts likewise, they are seemingly exempt from such criticisms. Somehow for them the behavior is acceptable, because well, it's almost expected.

And that is what is underlying Hall's remarks. There is/was a pent-up frustration caused by an erroneous perspective of BYU fan/athlete - that because of their religion or the university honor code, they are devoid of strong opinions and see themselves as perfect individuals. While I do feel that Hall's post-game comments were unnecessarily broad, maybe we owe Max our gratitude for allowing himself to be castigated on our behalf. In the end his words could contribute to his prestige in our minds nearly as much as his actual performance on the field. And as Dr. Saturday posted:

"Even if the world doesn't approve of your thoughts, Max, at least you were able to express them by the most satisfying means at your disposal."

Relevant Links:

Bronco on Max: "He spoke from his heart" - Greg Wrubell, KSL
Hall comes up big when it counts - Andrew Aragon, Deseret News
Hall's pain a reflection of self-betrayal - Amy Donaldson, Deseret News
Heated rivals no longer allowed to hate each other? - Deadspin
Mad Max's thunder a blunder - Gordon Monson, Salt Lake Tribune
Mad Max will regret post game blunder - Bleacher Report
Max Hall does his part to keep the BYU-Utah hate alive - Dr. Saturday
Max Hall releases apology - Sean Reynolds, Block U
QB Hall's apology says rant overboard - Jay Drew, Salt Lake Tribune
Rivalry continues to thrive - Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake Tribune
The case against Max Hall - Cougar Blue (Daily Herald) Forum
The other side of the holy war - Jeremy Mauss, MWC Connection
There's too much hate in ... rivalry - Gordon Monson, Salt Lake Tribune
Utah fans lash back at Hall - Lindsay Whitehurst, Salt Lake Tribune

Photo Link (Salt Lake Tribune)