GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02: The Stanford Cardinal play offense against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
I'm not one to get too upset over the slighting Utah often sees in the mainstream media. I stopped caring a great deal back in 2008 when so many nationally tried to talk themselves into disrespecting what the Utes had done.
However, sometimes an article comes along that just leaves me absolutely perplexed. This just happened.
CBS Sports has decided to take a look at the top-20 most meaningful bowl games of the past 20 years and, from what I can tell, the article is pretty thoroughly researched. That's what makes Utah's omission even harder to take, since it's actually a pretty good write up all things considered.
Unfortunately, beyond just a passing mention when describing TCU and BSU's Fiesta Bowl in 2010, there is absolutely no mention of Utah or their history paving in either 2005 or 2009.
Sure, I get that the '05 Fiesta Bowl is less sexy than Boise State's win over Oklahoma a couple years later and the Utes' opponent, a bewildered eight win Pittsburgh Panthers team, wasn't exactly special, but the act of the bowl in the first place was. No non-BCS team prior to Utah's trip to the Fiesta Bowl had ever busted into the BCS - not Marshall, Tulane, BYU, Miami (Ohio), TCU or Boise State. It was the Utes.
They were the first to do it and they did it under far more difficult guidelines than any other team to follow. People forget that. In 2004, when Utah went 11-0 in the regular season, the rules stated to be guaranteed a spot in the BCS bowl game, a non-BCS team had to finish in the top-six of the BCS rankings. Utah finished at six. Two years later, when the Broncos held their own BCS bustin' party and, I'll concede, put on a phenomenal show, they finished the season 8th nationally. Had that rule continued, and not been rolled back after the Utes' historic win, it's very possible Boise State isn't even allowed a chance to make history.
But the Utes, who did it under a more stringent rule, and then became the first team to bust the BCS twice, failed to make the list - not their Sugar Bowl beatdown of Alabama, nor their thumping of Pitt.
I have a problem with that and it's not just this article. There seems to be a growing forgetfulness of what Utah has actually accomplished. In fact, as absurd as it sounds to us, there are actually people out there, members of the sports media, men and women who call themselves journalists, who claim it was the Boise Broncos who did it first, not the Utes.
I could maybe understand that if, like Hawaii, Utah just vanished from the national scene the second after their BCS busting season, or if they, like the Warriors, had been just absolutely destroyed in their BCS game, but that isn't the case. The Utes not only won, they kept winning - all the way to the Pac-12.
Which makes their exclusion even harder to take. I see TCU's '11 Rose Bowl is there, which I think is perfectly reasonable, and so is BYU's '97 Cotton Bowl, but no mention of Utah. Forget that they did it first and forget that their historic win over Alabama pushed us closer to a playoff than any past bowl victory by any non-BCS team, it's promptly ignored because, I guess, it just wasn't as cool as the '05 Sugar Bowl, where Auburn beat Virginia Tech in a ho-hum game to finish 13-0...and still not win a national championship (hey, remember when the SEC was perceived as being so weak that even an undefeated SEC team couldn't get into the title game?).
Utah paved the way. TCU and BSU benefited from Utah finally proving to the world that a non-BCS team could actually go out and play in, and then win, a BCS bowl game. That's important. It's historical. It should have been listed. Their '05 Fiesta Bowl was meaningful - more meaningful than a great deal of bowls listed. Without Utah, there might not be a Boise State and a '07 Fiesta Bowl. Doesn't get more meaningful than that.