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No, Utah potentially doing away with the rivalry game has nothing to do with guts

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It's cute how people sometimes pretend things that aren't. Like how some believe the U.S. government faked the moon landing!

In the same vein, you've now got a growing number of BYU fans who are convinced Utah is solely dropping the rivalry game because they're chicken - among other, more ridiculous reasons.

No. That's not it at all. Anyone who's even pretended to follow the conference affiliation discussions the last two or so years will know this is bunk right from the start. But sometimes facts can be stubborn and to a great deal of Cougar fans, they're downright inconvenient.

So, when it came to finding a reason for Utah potentially dropping the rivalry between the two programs, those fans had to quickly find reason that doesn't exist.

Now, let me start by saying I'm opposed to dropping the rivalry. I've said it many times. I like it and I think it should continue. But I also know Utah and BYU are at dramatically different points for the first time in each's history. I'm not talking points of success, but literally at different avenues. Three years ago, these two teams played in the same conference and therefore were guaranteed to play one another yearly regardless if we liked it or not.

But that's changed. The Cougars now have as much flexibility as they want when it comes to scheduling and the Utes, who now belong to the Pac-12, hardly have any.

That's going to create problems. We knew the potential of those problems when Utah accepted a bid to play in the Pac-12 and the first one arose when Larry Scott announced that he wanted non-conference games over with far earlier in the season.

This essentially killed any idea of Utah and BYU playing in November. Last season, next season, and for the foreseeable future, the Utes' new November rival will be conference companion Colorado.

Really, that was the first indication the rivalry game as we know it might be on the rocks.

Then the conference, last December, announced a scheduling partnership with the Big Ten. This potentially radically adjusts Utah's scheduling options going forward and would take away one non-conference game a season.

Add the fact that there are only three to begin with and you're already seeing how little flexibility Utah has on its end.

But for some reason, this change is solely because Utah's chicken. They're too afraid to play BYU.

Of course, maybe this argument would hold more weight had the Utes not, you know, defeated the Cougars 54-10 last season or won seven of the last ten games between the two.

You see, their logic just doesn't align with reality. Utah has no reason to be afraid of BYU. The Cougars haven't dominated the Utes in my lifetime, have only won a handful of the games since LaVell Edwards retired and haven't scored a comfortable win over Utah in 16 years.

The problem with their argument is that it's based on a false hope. You've seen it with their comments. At best, the Utes are looking at 6-6 most seasons and, gasp, with BYU on the schedule, they're ultimately going to be the difference between a bowl berth and a losing season!

Where do you start with that? It goes right back to those who believe the moon landing was faked. There is no debating them because, no matter how much evidence you produce, they're convinced in something that, unfortunately, can't be 100% disproved. Unless either of us were there on the moon when Neil Armstrong took those first few steps, I guess there's always going to be a shred of doubt about whether or not he, and then Buzz Aldrin, actually did make it to the moon - even if evidence overwhelmingly supports their story. Likewise, we don't know if the Utes are about to string together ten consecutive 6-6 regular season finishes. We don't know because it hasn't happened yet.

Forget that not only did Utah not finish 6-6 in their inaugural Pac-12 season, but haven't lost six games in a regular season in almost a decade (fun fact, over the same stretch, BYU has had four such seasons), for some reason, they're convinced that the Utes are now destined for that lot in life.

It's so illogical that it also suggests Kyle Whittingham now realizes his team is destined for 6-6 until time ends and, knowing 5-7 won't get you to a bowl game, he's now decided to back away from the rivalry game. Forget that, at no point in his career, has Whittingham ever had a six-loss season or a losing season, we're led to believe that he now thinks it's not only going to happen once or twice in the future, but it will now be the norm.

Trying to wrap your brain around that one just makes you want to smack your head against a brick wall.

Remember, Utah is 7-3 against BYU in the last 10 seasons. They've won three of the last four, including the last two, and somehow, someway, the Cougar fans are convinced their program is now the difference between Utah finishing at .500 (hell, not even above .500) or with a losing season.


Because last season, I could have sworn the Cougars acted as one of Utah's seven regular season wins. The Utes were in the Pac-12 then and certainly BYU didn't spoil anything, definitely not a winning season, for Utah.

We know Utah is not hinting at dropping the rivalry because they're scared. There is no reason to be scared of BYU. They are a good program and have had some very good seasons of late - but they're not Florida or LSU or Alabama. They've done nothing extraordinary for the Utah coaching staff to convince themselves they have the potential to derail a season or are so unbeatable that they can't risk one meager loss.

No, the Utes have hinted at dropping the rivalry because it all comes down to schedule flexibility. BYU has it. Utah doesn't.

We know the Utes won't play BYU after a certain point in the season. We know the Utes are bound to start scheduling Big Ten teams. We know Utah only has three out of conference games a year. It's smart, even if I don't like it, to have as many options on the table when you're scheduling, and locking down BYU early and yearly, when they've already started establishing their schedule for years going forward, leaves little on the Utes' end.

This isn't about challenge. There is a good chance Utah will be playing equally tough opponents from the Big Ten in place of BYU and potentially scheduling bigger names from bigger and better conferences along side that partnership.

But it's possible, with a blind agreement, that Utah would be forced to schedule down with BYU on the schedule because of the Big Ten deal and closed scheduling dates due to working around the Cougars and their ongoing scheduling.

As Kyle Whittingham said Sunday night, "The rivalry game is important, but not as important as what is best for our university and our football program."

He's absolutely right. Utah has to do what's best for Utah.