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June 23, 2014

Rivalry Checkup: Alive and Well Despite Pac-12

-- Wherein the author LOLs at Ute Fan Rivalry Behavior

All discussions regarding the BYU-Utah rivalry, if it still exists, whether it matters anymore, is it slowly dying and other such nonsense can be answered in one question:

Have you ever met a fan of Colorado's premier college football team?


As the leftover choices when Texas spurned the PAC-10, Utah and Colorado entered the Pacific Conference as brothers; ugly step-brothers, true, but brothers all the same.  The heads of PAC-12 scheduling, noticing this, and met with no alternatives, decided just then that -- poof! -- Utah and Colorado were now rivals. It makes you wonder, How does it feel to be set up with someone when you’re the only two members of the dating service?  In the case of the Utes and the Buffs, history and badblood (or in the dating analogy chemistry and attraction) were ignored in favor of practicality, and if that's not the way to breed a relationship -- or a rivalry -- then I don't know what is.

So … have you ever met a Colorado fan?  I ask because I fear the PAC-12 rivalry bestowers might have forgotten one detail when they deemed the Utes and Buffalo the 21st century version of Bird versus Magic. You see, in order for a rivalry to exist there must be two opposing forces, black versus white, a good versus evil, something of that nature.  Which brings us to our neighboring state to the East.  I have met or interacted with fans of the following Colorado-based sporting institutions:

Air Force Academy, Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Colorado State University, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets.

Did you notice who was missing during that roll-call?  I have never once met, or interacted with, or heard from a University of Colorado football fan.11. Are such persons called Buffalo Buffs? Do they were buffs like in Survivor? If not, please excuse me while I run to the CU marketing office.

In this absence of opposing fans we see the biggest reason why the BYU-Utah rivalry is not going anywhere anytime soon.  With no Colorado enemies to bash against this concocted Utes-Buffalo rivalry cannot develop.  If Utah and Colorado fans aren't clustered together then where is the workplace smack talk happening? How will there ever be inappropriate zingers during sacrament meeting talks? What lame tales of split Buffalo-Ute families will we NOT watch on KSL?22. For some reason something about the idea of a ‘Buffalo-Ute’ anything sounds very comical to me, like a burrito experiment gone very bad.

If you don’t have two opposing forces you don’t have a rivalry, and if the Buffalo-Ute rivalry cannot develop then the BYU-Utah rivalry has not been replaced and if the BYU-Utah rivalry has not been replaced … what do you think is going to happen to it?  The rivalry is just going to die of its own accord?  Of natural causes? BYU and Utah fans are just going to start getting along because they’re no longer playing for the MWC Championship?  How does that make any sense?

Ignoring the idea of that prior paragraph for a moment -- which everyone has done with ease over the past few years of rivalry chatter -- foolish fans point to the fact that the rivalry simply can’t be as important now as it was before because the two teams are no longer in the same conference and therefore no longer playing for the same conference title crown.  I love this idea because every time it’s brought up we get to remember that the Utes have won their conference championship only three times -- THREE TIMES!! -- in the last 55 years.  The misconception that the winner of the BYU-Utah game was automatically the league champion is debunked instantly once you realize the Utes were in all actuality not contending for league titles at a very frequent rate.  (Unless of course you consider once per 18 seasons frequent.) 

To sum: we all agree that the rivalry mattered before despite the fact that there were almost never championship stakes on the line … and yet now because there are completely zero championship stakes on the line the rivalry the rivalry is irrelevant?  What changed?  Is it, as Utah fans like to claim, due to the Utes now having bigger fish to fry?  And if so, then how come the rivalry game mattered in 2007 when Utah played UCLA or in 2004 when they played Oregon State? Why didn't the rivalry lose luster when BYU played USC in 2003 or Florida State in 2010?  Weird.  Here’s a free tip for Utah fans: don’t trot out the ‘bigger fish to fry’ argument until BYU no longer occupies 3 of your stadium’s top 8 attendance records.

Another equally insane thought gaining popularity is that the two-year break will diminish the rivalry.  Is the World Cup diminished in importance because it is only played once every four years?  What about the Olympics?  Any person who thinks the 2016 edition of the rivalry game isn't going to be among the most anticipated, ramped-up contests in the history of the rivalry should be checked into St. Mungo’s.

By the way there’s a final element sustaining this rivalry you might be forgetting and that is just how annoying BYU fans are. We are a truly insufferable bunch (see this blog as a prime example), capable of inspiring hate on even a national level.  Why?  Well, you already know the answer but I’ll give you the spiel anyway. The average person associated with BYU will always think himself better than the corresponding person associated with Utah -- regardless of head-to-head record or conference ties or anything of note really-- simply because the BYU fan supports God’s team and you don’t.  This, not surprisingly, makes people angry, and Ute fans in particular considering they support the same God that BYU fans do.  

As a result Ute fans hate BYU fans for thinking themselves superior to all others and BYU fans in turn respond by hating the Utes because, Why should they hate us just because we’re better than them?  This idea of a persecution complex on the part of BYU fans only serves to make the Utes angrier, which of course ends up making BYU fans angrier, and so the cycle goes.  I can’t think of anything like it in all of sports33. Most rivalries with state or life style undertones are usually a matter of either side championing their ideal as better than the other, as compared to BYU and Utah where you have two groups agreeing on one idea but arguing over who supports it more fully. and I can’t see how it will ever go away.  Not as long as people like my Elders Quorum president keep starting their Sunday School comments with intros like, “I don’t know where all of you guys went to college and I don’t know what types of things you learned at the schools you went to but I went to school at BYU and while at BYU I was reading the scriptures once and I learned that blah blah blah…”

Insufferable?  Yes.  A never ending supply of rivalry fuel?  I think so.

To those Ute fans who enjoy pretending the rivalry doesn't matter anymore, I say good for you.  It’s your job as a fan to talk smack anyway you can, and the ‘We’re too good for you’ routine is one of the best ones out there.  Just know that until you stop spilling beers on our players’ families and coming after our coaches during the post-game fracas we’ll know you’re full of it.  

No matter how many t-shirts you make.

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