BYU vs. Utah; the end of an era

For most Utah sports fans this is the best week of the year.  I have felt that way for a long time but this year is different.  In fact, the arrival of this week has come much too soon for me.  Even though I am very much looking forward to all of the trash talking and especially the game, as Saturday comes I will be very sad.

Not only is this the last time the game will be played for a few years but it’s also the end of an era.

The Utes and Cougars have played each other every season for the last 68 years.  In fact, the last Year they didn’t play each other is because BYU didn’t field a team during the Second World War.  If that was the only reason good enough not to play the game then how can they let it go away without a fight?  I have asked myself that question ever since it was announced that BYU and Utah would be taking a two year break.  Sadly the only answer that makes any sense is money. It’s not that they don’t make enough while playing each other because the games are always a sellout but the money that was guaranteed by the PAC 12 when they made the Utes their 12th member back in 2010.  No one would have ever dreamed of taking a year off of such a great rivalry before then.  The game is far too good and the passion far too deep to ever think of taking a break.  At least until the bright lights and the big bucks of a BCS power conference came into view.

Since then a few things have lessened the games impact, even to the most passionate fans.  Since the Utes and Cougars are no longer in the same conference there is far less on the line when they play.  That was a stark change from the WAC and Mountain West days when a Conference Championship was seemly on the line every year.  The other change that affected the impact of the game was the timing.  For the last two years the two teams have met in September instead of their usual slot on thanksgiving weekend.  That change has certainly taken away most of, if not all of the buildup that was created in years past.

None of these changes have dampened my fire towards the rivalry and I am not alone.  The Die-hard fans of the Cougars and Utes wait for this game all year long and know it’s the most important game on the schedule.  It has been said that the intensity of the rivalry has crossed a line and is one of the reasons a break is good but I don’t agree.  If that was the case then why do they still play each other every year in all other sports?  I have seen plenty of fights when they faced each other in basketball and that hasn’t stopped them from playing every season.

The most troubling part of the end of the 68 year streak is that there are plenty of fans that don’t care.  That is just shocking to me on so many levels.  I can’t see how true fans of each school think that this is okay.  It is the best game of the year no matter the score and is far too important to this state to just go away.  Fans that don’t care about the end of this game aren’t true fans of the schools, at least not lifelong fans.

I hate that the drive for money has caused such terrible realignment.  Some of the best rivalries in all of college football are gone including one that I have been so invested in for such a long time.

I have been to so many amazing games in this series and will never forget those moments.  Even the games that my beloved Cougars got crushed still contain priceless memories that are imbedded in my head for life.

As Saturday rolls around and the game comes to an end I hope that the fans of both schools, win or lose, can remember what this game means and cherish the legacy that is going by the wayside.

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