I’ve never been much of a comment reader or writer for that matter. As began writing articles that made it to websites about BYU I started to look a little closer at what was being said about my pieces. What seemed really funny to me was the amount of comments that came from Utah Ute fans. As a fan it had never crossed my mind to read stories about my arch rival just to make comments about that school. Some of the comments were very clever, while others were just outlandish but all were entertaining. It seems as if most of these fans hate BYU more than they love the Utes. That doesn’t bother me though. In fact, I love the passion that it shows. To me that is what sports is all about. The rivalry in this area is top notch and brings all kinds out of the wood work.
As I started to think about what it means to be a fan and what category I would fall into, I began reflecting on who I cheer for and why. I came up with a few reasons, but the one that stood out the most in my mind was that they are the teams my dad cheered or cheers for. I’m sure most fans are like me, rooting for the same teams as their parents. There isn’t much better in life than sharing your sports passion with family. While I was reflecting on all the great times I had watching games with my family I wondered who I would cheer for if not for them. Are my team’s the most fun to watch? Do they reflect my style if I were playing the game? Do their players have the same values as me or do their fans? Does the school or organization run things the right way without cutting corners? I want you to ask yourself these same questions as you are reading this and find out if you are cheering for the right teams and schools. I also want you to look back at the good times you’ve had and remember why sports are so great but most importantly I want you to remove yourself from your fandum for just a few minutes and decide what school is in a better place in the college football landscape.
THE UTAH UTES
The Utes have dominated the rivalry with BYU in the last few seasons even when they are having down years. They play in a conference loaded with high profile schools and high octane offenses. Being in the PAC 12 has aided the Utes in recruiting on a national level. Utah has a defensive minded coach who has the ability to mold great athletes into football players and get them to the NFL. He has been able to bring in very good offensive coaches that try to implement an exciting brand of football. The Utes play big time programs at home on a regular basis and have automatic ties to the Rose Bowl and the BCS. With that comes ties to the new playoff system when it is put into place following the 2013 season. Utah plays in Rice Eccles stadium which is nice and modern. They have great practice facilities and a really good athletic director.
The Utes have struggled to find success since entering the PAC 12. The PAC 12 network isn’t available on direct TV which limits many fans ability to watch the games. Their athletic director decided to put the rivalry with BYU on hold for a few years. Utah has changed offensive coordinators four years in a row making changes to their offensive system in the process. Rice Eccles is not big enough to house a major college fan base especially when the likes of Stanford, Oregon and USC come to town. The PAC 12 schedulers started the Utes off easy during their first few seasons not having to play power houses Stanford or Oregon. They are both on the schedule this season as well as a bunch of other difficult foes. If Utah doesn’t get off to a good start they can be looking at a long, painful season.
THE BYU COUGARS
As an independent, BYU isn’t locked into a conference schedule which means they can play high profile teams from all over the country. Their athletic director is willing to play anyone anywhere so the Y. has good opponents. He has been able to schedule Notre Dame, USC, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Texas and Boise State just to name a few. BYU games are always on TV. They have a major TV contract with ESPN to show their games. For the games that ESPN or their affiliates don’t air, BYU has their own TV network which is high quality and available almost everywhere. Most years BYU knows where they will play their bowl games ahead of time. That is a plus because fans have much more time to plan to attend the games helping to save a lot of money. The Cougars return one of their all time leading receivers in Cody Hoffman and a pair of explosive running backs. They also return a number of defensive starters including Kyle Van Noy, who is one of the most dynamic linebackers in recent memory. The Cougars have an even tempered, defensively minded head coach with a passion for the game. To top it all off BYU plays in LaVell Edwards stadium which can accommodate more than 60,000 fans.
Its difficult to schedule meaningful games late in the season because BYU doesn’t have a conference affiliation. They have to create their own bowl tie-ins for the same reason and the games they get aren’t always the most high profile or lucrative. It is very difficult for the Cougars to play in a BCS game because they aren’t in a big time conference. They would have to go undefeated to get the chance and that’s not even guaranteed. They just suffered through one of their most difficult seasons in recent history. BYU finished with a record of eight and five but expectations were much higher. They weren’t able to win close games because of the offense’s inability to put points on the board. Almost the entire offensive staff was not retained because of that. Good coaches were let go during that transition and the new coordinator is someone who most fans weren’t too sad when he left the first time. The Cougars put in a whole new system and there is always a learning curve when that happens. Last but certainly not least was how the quarterback situation was handled a season ago. Putting a guy on the field who is extremely limited because of injuries is never a good idea and made the coaching staff look very bad.
Now that you’ve seen all of the positives and negatives, who would you rather be?