May 20, 2024

Smurf Turf


This archived article was written by: KC Smurthwaite

Barack Obama, John McCain, leave the room now. This is a sport’s article for heaven’s sake, no politics in this article. So in sport’s terms who owns the state? Utah’s red or BYU’s blue? Sorry Utah Valley and Utah State you don’t make the cut for Utah’s team. It’s a simple question if you are a BYU or Utah fan, but really who rules this state? I hate bringing myself into my articles, but I will throw out my personal opinion in this story. I used to be a huge BYU fan, until I turned to the “dark side of the force” and became a Ute my sophomore year in high school. So I have been both a Cougar and a Ute in my lifetime.
This is the perfect rivalry. It isn’t so much Army vs. Navy, nor even democrat or republican. This rivalry comes down to church vs. state. Oddly enough, both universities were founded by Brigham Young, the church leader who led the Latter Day Saints across the plains to Utah. The two schools are separated by 50 miles, a mountain, two counties and even two lifestyles. On one side of the mountain, you have “BYU-fan Mormons” who usually consider some “Utah-fan Mormons” to have no class, cheap, apostate, or irreverent. On the other hand, some “Utah-fan Mormons” often accuse some “BYU-fan Mormons” of being self-righteous, self-centered and pretentious. Hmmmm.
The rivalry began in 1896 (according to BYU fans, it started in 1900) and in the first football match between the schools, a fight broke out and the game ended in a 12-4 victory for Utah. Utah dominated the first six football games winning a combined 186-13. Ouch. Adding to BYU football woes, Utah won the first 17 games and didn’t allow a BYU victory until 1942. Utah football dominated the state until 1972. What happened in 1972? Two words; Lavell Edwards. End of story. The rivalry goes far beyond football, just ask the 11 other sports both BYU and Utah compete in. Of the 12 sports, BYU-Utah have met 47 times this past year and Utah has won 34 of them. At the national level, BYU is ranked 24th by the National Director’s Cup which tallies total sports prestige for the current school year. Utah sits at 30th. A few years ago when both BYU and Utah’s football programs were in need of a football coach, both schools offered Kyle Whittingham the job. Coach Whittingham chose Utah and jokingly cited Doctrine and Covenants 133:48 which states ” the lord will be red in his apparel,” on why he chose Utah over BYU. So who wins it? Utah leads all time in wins in basketball and football. Throw in the fact Utah has won two BCS games in the past five years brings us to our answer. Utah is a red state.