By now, you've probably quite aware that Utah canceled future basketball games with BYU, and basically everyone is mad about it. You've seen the tweets from normally pretty stoic BYU officials. You've probably even seen the tweets from Utah's Governor and Lieutenant Governor, who made it clear they are not happy about Utah's decision. But could the outrage go from angry tweets to something a little more tangible?
It's possible. Some Utah lawmakers are apparently considering legislative action to make the two teams play.
The Utah Speaker of the House, Rep. Greg Hughes (R), recently gave an interview suggesting that he'd consider legislative action to make the two teams play (and not before reminding listeners that the last person to disrupt this basketball rivalry was Hitler. Hitler!). Hughes said that multiple angry constituents have reached out to him, looking for a possible solution. From Fox 13:
"Tax payers pay for the University of Utah, and so there's a natural reaching out to me," Hughes points out.
He wouldn't specify what kind of action could be taken, but he did confirm previous measures were considered for the football rivalry.
"There had been some bill files that would look to influence this by statute that say, 'look, you got to play,'" Hughes adds.
(In case you were wondering, yes. Hughes attended BYU.)
On one hand, this isn't a completely ridiculous proposal. Other statehouses have intervened in college athletics scheduling and conference realignment (see: Texas), and it wouldn't be the first time that the Utah statehouse has gotten directly involved in athletics administration either. After all, they recently cut a check to Utah State to help with their recruiting, all in the name of local economic development. Given that the BYU/Utah game is a big draw, if not a sellout, it wouldn't be hard to jump to an economic development angle to promoting and maintaining the game, given Utah's precedent.
Plus, this shows that at least one Utah legislator is responsive to the interests of his constituents. Practically speaking, it's unlikely that deliberation here would really detract from more serious, pressing issues for Utah's state government. And besides, it wouldn't come close to the weirdest college athletics proposal we've seen at the state level. After all, I interviewed an Alabama legislator that wanted Auburn to claim a bunch of random national titles this year.
On the other hand ... This sounds almost completely crazy.