Utah is shaking in it's boots.
Scooby-doo thinks Utah is a coward. Utah looks like it has just seen a ghost. The ghost of Brigham Young, perhaps.
Sound familiar? That's the voice of BYU faithful and the local media bulldozing Utah, and it's current
arrangement with the TDS. I can see how it might appear that way, though, I don't believe this accusation
carries much weight.
Look, I can feel for you BYU fan. This wasn't the news you wanted to hear and I'd be upset too. But,
now isn't the time to go around maligning Utah for it's tough decision that it made. They upset their
own fan-base in some capacity by making the move. So, now, the question has been presented: Is Utah
afraid to play BYU? Furthermore, is Utah scared to lose to BYU? I say no.
What I see a lot of people pointing to (especially the local media) is Hill's "I can’t expect us to play 11
really, really difficult games in a season" quote and are portraying it as an indictment on Utah. My feeling
is that Hill could have chosen his words a little more carefully, however, that quote- and the announcement
itself- were bound to be misunderstood and taken out of context from the moment he uttered those words.
Admittedly, the announcement could have probably gone a little smoother.
But, ask yourself this. If Utah is just so scared of losing games, why would they schedule Michigan?
Why would they have joined the Pac-12 in the first place? If fear of quality opponents is the issue,
shouldn't they have just stayed in the Mountain West and beat up on lesser competition for years
Utah isn't afraid of BYU and vice-versa, so let's put that to rest.
Utah would have been foolish to pass up on a Michigan series in order to honor it's rivalry game. And, to
schedule both BYU and Michigan, grouped with games against USC, Stanford, and Oregon, would be
even more nonsensical.
Fear of losing games? Take BYU out of the equation and in all likelihood Utah could suffer four losses at
the hands of the aforementioned teams. Apprehension isn't the driving force in Utah's decision, rather,
progression. Utah wants to elevate it's program to the next level. A Michigan series helps in that. An
annual BYU match-up, well, doesn't.
The Holy War is played for three reasons: Tradition, history, and bragging rights. The first two go far
in building a team's brand, but, Utah has already established both on a notable level. I'm not suggesting
that the Holy War is hurting Utah by any means, but it's not aiding them either.
Utah fans like to beat BYU, sure. But, imagine what a win over Michigan does for Utah? Even if Michigan
isn't at their ceiling. Would a win over Michigan mean more to Utah fans than a win over BYU? It might. It's
new, it's unprecedented, and forgive me for my word choice, it's historic.
For the record, I would like to see the Holy War played annually. I feel like I'm living on an island to confess
that sentiment. With that said, I'm ok with a bookmark being put in the story. We'll pick it up again at a later
time, don't you fret. And it's going to come back with a vengeance.
Now that's a scary thought.