OK, I know that Tomahawk wrote an article on the same thing, but I'm going to focus more on two things: 1. the BYU fans' responses to Whit supporting Utah ending the rivalry, and 2. The most likely reasons and explanations for Whit's statement. So let's begin.
Having read Cougarboard for the first time at Tomahawk's suggestion, I was amazed at some of the statements and responses that I saw. The most common ones included
1. Kryle (really, is this the cougar's nickname for Whit?) and the Yewts (again, I don't get it) are scared to play BYU and are just chicken crap (and yes, they specifically called him chicken crap).
2.Kyle and the Utes take the rivalry way too personally and are over-reacting to its intensity.
3. We're being megalomaniacs (again, this was actually included) and we're doing this just to hurt BYU.
4. BYU stayed in several conferences with Utah on purpose, often carrying it, just so that they could keep the rivalry alive. Utah on the other hand, bolted when they got a better offer than to stay with BYU.
5. Florida and Florida State still have a rivalry even though they are in different conferences, so Utah must be scared or doing it to harm BYU.
And now let's respond to each of these in order:
1. Kyle/Utah being scared: Yes, the Utes are scared to lose to BYU, just not in the way the cougars think. Though losing to BYU would not affect our conference standings, it would affect our rankings and any discussions about us being in contention for a playoff/BCS berth if we didn't qualify for the Rose bowl. On the other hand, Bama showed us last year that scheduling a few cupcakes as OOC opponents doesn't prevent you from playing for the championship, as long as any loss is to a top quality team instead of those cupcakes. Basically, I am saying that given our 9 game conference schedule and our future Big 10 deal, we we would have more to lose by scheduling BYU and potentially losing to them than scheduling a cupcake and murdering them.
2. Taking the rivalry too personally: Again, I agree that the rivalry has been taken too personally. . .ON BOTH SIDES. That's because when a rivalry IS taken too seriously, bad things tend to happen. The cougar fans brought up something about Whit's son starting an altercation with a cougar fan and his wife aggravating it, and how Bronco helped break it up and make sure that charges wouldn't be brought against Whit's kid. They then talked about how this would never happen with Bronco's kids, etc... I don't know enough about this situation to pass judgement, but I do have a response: Max Hall. Overzealous fans and taking the rivalry too far is rampant on both sides of the rivalry, that's why we have these message boards and competitions like the food drive and dodgeball game. Rivalries are fun up to a point, but it often gets out of hand. So I honestly don't get why fans are criticizing Whit when he says the rivalry going too far is a reason why the rivalry should be stopped. Wouldn't that be a sign of maturity and recognizing when something is getting out of hand?
3. Megalomaniacs/trying to hurt BYU: Finally we get to something I get to bash. A cougar fan on Cougarboard responded in the best way to this with the simple question, "Isn't BYU bigger than the rivalry? Of course it is. . . I don't see what everyone's fired up about. it screams little brother". I am of the mindset that athletics are there to help the university succeed, not the other way around. Athletic scholarships were originally meant to help kids who couldn't afford college cover their costs, not to become an NFL supplier or to fuel a rivalry. Therefore, Utah is making the right move by doing what's needed not just to represent the athletic program, but the University as well. Thinking that Whit's statements are intended to hurt BYU rather than help the U is just egotistical and self-conceited.
4. BYU stayed in conference for Utah, but Utah wouldn't do the same: just read the quote, makes it easier to explain,
"BYU made sure they stayed in the same conference as Utah for decades because of an understanding that they were to remain together. Utah dumped that understanding the second it suited them. BYU won't bail on the WCC, even if that means they get turned down for a conference spot. BYU is a team player. Utah looks out for itself."
If this is true on BYU's part, then they deserve to be where they are: stuck as an independent with a weak SOS and struggling to schedule tough November competition. Like I said in part 3, you need to do what's best for your University, even if it means leaving a rival in the dust. Otherwise, you're putting that rivalry ahead of the success of your school and essentially making your rival more important than yourself. To use a common slur, that just screams "little brother". If you're criticizing a coach and an AD for doing what's in the best interest of their team rather than helping your team stay relevant, than you are just furthering the case that you are becoming less and less relevant.
5. Florida and FSU: They also used Nebraska-Colorado, Houston-Rice, and so on. The key differences here are that both teams in each rivalry are in similar situations. Florida-FSU and Nebraska-Colorado are all in AQ conferences, so they are deemed "more worthy" foes at an equal level, whether the praise is merited or not. On the other hand, Houston and Rice are in Non-AQ conferences, so they are also deemed at an equal level. Utah-BYU doesn't really work because there's the perception that non AQ foes that aren't named TCU, Boise State, or Notre Dame are on a sub-par level to AQ teams. Regardless of whether this is true or not is irrelevant, the people doing the rankings will look on Utah beating BYU as "eh, it was supposed to happen" vs. Utah losing would be, "wow, they lost to that non-AQ team, they must not be that good". So heading back to the scared thing, yeah, Utah's scared of this game because we have more to lose if we lose this game than we have to gain.
Essentially, what I've read on Cougarboard only made me support Whit and Hill all the more. Though I think both sides would be disappointed that it ended, Utah would be in a much better position and there would hopefully be a lot less hate and prejudice on both sides.
So tell me, what do you guys think?