It doesn't look like The Holy War has many legs to stand on anymore. And you can now add coach Kyle Whittingham to the list of those who want it to go away.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Friday, Whittingham outlined several reasons as to why the series should end -- or at least take leave for a while. Chief among them are Utah's future rigorous Pac 12 conference schedules.
"Bottom line is, we've got to do what's best for our program," Whittingham said. "That supersedes anything to do with the rivalry. If taking a year or two off periodically is best for our program, best for our scheduling, then that's what we've got to do."
Whittingham went further, saying that despite the significance the rivalry has for many Ute and Cougar fans, it's more important that Utah maintain a schedule flexibility that best facilitates success on the field.
"Our program is bigger than the rivalry. That's got to take a back seat to us doing what's best for our program," he said.
Many Utah fans agree that doing away with the series, for the time being, is a good idea. In recent years, increasingly bad blood has become more commonplace between Ute and Cougar fans -- at the games, on Internet message boards, and in the mainstream media. And while Whittingham's stance doesn't necessarily mark the official end to the rivalry, it does strongly suggest that the meeting in 2012 will probably be the last one for a while.
"The Pac 12 schedule is rigorous," Whittingham said. "You play nine conference games, which is one more than most conferences play. I have input and (Chris Hill and I) talk, but both of us are on the same page as far as looking for balance. You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage by overscheduling your nonconference games."
Whittingham mentioned that Dr. Hill and he are in agreement on this, so that may pretty much seal the deal. If the head coach and the athletic director are leaning in favor of ending the series, it probably won't continue. I think BYU AD Tom Holmoe and coach Bronco Mendenhall are on record in favor of continuing the series, but it just won't work if Utah is against it.
Naturally, BYU would favor continuing the series for two reasons: 1) It helps fill their 12-game independent schedule, and 2) it brings in a top-caliber Pac 12 team every season. But for Utah, it doesn't make much sense to continue the series. As a Pac 12 member, Utah would be expected to put the non-AQ Cougars away every season. Failure to do so would harm the Utes far more than it would harm the Cougars.
As may be expected, this news has set off a firestorm of criticism among BYU faithful. Over at CougarBoard.com, many threads have surfaced in the last 24 hours that unceremoniously roast Whittingham for his interview. And, of course, the primary claim over there is that Utah is scared of BYU so they are running from the series.
It's hysterical to read such nonsense. After burying the kittens in their own litter box last season -- scoring 47 unanswered points in the second half and sending their fans to the parking lot in the 3rd quarter -- has us flat-out terrified of that program. Sure. Beating them seven out of the last ten times has got Whittingham shaking in his shoes. They don't get it... they just don't get it.
"We would never leave Utah" and "we don't run from competition" are examples of the inane comments you'd come across over there at CougarBoard. Of course, it's easy for them to say that because they are far from our position. They aren't in the BCS. They don't have a conference schedule. It is clear for anyone to see that BYU has far more to gain from playing Utah than we do from playing them.
What's even more ludicrous is some of the claims over there that suggest Utah will regret this decision to end the rivalry. One poster flat-out says that Utah will "pay a heavy price" for dumping BYU, while another said Utah will "rue the day" they made this decision.
What exactly are they talking about? Could they possibly be so delusional as to believe that BYU is gonna make life for the Utes difficult? How in the world do they plan on accomplishing this? BYU has zero pull to influence anything the Utes do or receive.
Another example I saw was the claim, "but Colorado still plays Colorado State every season" and "USC still plays Stanford." OK, fine. But what about the Texas/Texas A&M series? What about Nebraska/Colorado? What about Kansas/Missouri? Each of those series have been ended due to realignment. Is Texas afraid of Texas A&M? Is Nebraska scared of Colorado? Missouri of Kansas? Hardly. It's just the new way of the world. Kitten fans don't get it.
It's a riot over there. Kind of like people on the deck of the Titanic as it's going down. It's an appropriate analogy because BYU is a sinking ship. Their administration knows it and their fans know it. They are on the outside looking in. When the playoff system comes, they will be ill-suited to qualify. First, conference realignment opened their eyes to it. Now, Utah ending the series is the latest milepost on their road trip to irrelevancy.
As for The Holy War, it seems to be dead.