Roundup: Memories from previous years of the Holy War

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BYU’s looming showdown with Utah on the football field Saturday is arguably the largest, most grandiose annual event in the state of Utah.

Don’t believe it? Think hard: only the LDS Church’s General Conference sessions, a few college basketball games and perhaps Jazz playoff games can compete with that claim. Lately, Utah State has pushed its way onto the scene in football as well, but on a historical and cultural level, the mutual dislike between BYU and Utah simply cannot be beat.

BYU running back Jamaal Williams makes a cut during a run versus Utah in 2012. Photo by Chris Bunker
BYU running back Jamaal Williams makes a cut during a run versus Utah in 2012. Photo by Chris Bunker

What are people saying about this year?

For your reading pleasure, we have scraped together some of the most compelling, original content we’ve seen concerning the rivalry this week.

Former BYU cornerback Brian Logan recalled for cougarfan.com his experience on the field after the last time BYU triumphed over Utah. He said teammate Corby Eason had warned him to rush to the locker room and escape the mad rush of fans in case the Cougars won. But when Max Hall hit Andrew George for the overtime victory, Logan threw caution to the wind.

I Immediately leaped in the air overwhelmed with excitement and ran to the end zone to celebrate with my team. Once I got to the already 20-player dog pile, I looked around and saw nothing but BYU fans surrounding me.

I couldn’t see any of my teammates anywhere, just die-hard BYU fans congratulating me on the win and ripping off my gloves and wrist bands. Starting to feel claustrophobic, I tried to make my way to the locker room but had no luck. At this moment, I had so many thoughts racing through my mind. I was happy that we won but I was also nervous that I would never make it to the locker room. Finally, a few fans saw the distraught look on my face and decided to help me out. They picked me up on their shoulders and passed me from one fan to the next until I finally made it to the locker room. I felt as if I were a rock star being passed around by fans at a concert.

The past few years haven’t been as kind to BYU’s players. Talo Steves reported for  totalbluesports.com that star linebacker Kyle Van Noy is zeroed in on beating Utah for the first time:

On Monday Van Noy was asked whether he thinks about past losses to Utah.

“No, not necessarily,” he said. “I mean, I would be lying to you if I didn’t think about it, but I don’t wake up thinking, ‘Oh, I lost to Utah’ every day, then sit here and weigh that. But yeah, I’m a competitor and I don’t like losing. I’m 0-3 and I want to be 1-3, and that’s better than being 0-4.”

Thinking back to the stretch between 2006 and 2009, when BYU took three of four games from the Utes, Mitch Harper recounted his personal memory of one of the greatest rivalry finishes of all time in 2006. Writing for sports blog Lawless Republic, Harper recounted his experience with BYU’s win that year as he served as an LDS missionary in Montana, when a man who lived in the middle of nowhere let Harper and his companion inside. The man explained he knew about the LDS Church from listening to KSL Radio. He turned it on to show the missionaries, and the rivalry game, miraculously, was airing:

As it came down to the final play of the game, I was as nervous as ever. I listened intently to Greg Wrubell’s famous play-by-play of Beck’s pass to Harline. When Wrubell screamed, “Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown!” I threw both of my arms into the air and cheered “YES!” My companion laughed at me and I’m not sure the old man knew what to do or what was going on, but I didn’t care; the Cougs had won.

… As we drove away I wondering if that really just happened. Did that house just pop up out of nowhere? Is the radio signal always that clear? Did I just hear the Cougs beat Utah in a small shack, with a strange man, in the-middle-of-nowhere Montana?

Still other fans went the philosophical route in their preparation for Saturday, doling out their wisdom from years of cheering for BYU’s side in the Holy War. Brett Hein said it was important to distinguish rivalry from hate in his piece for loyalcougars.com:

Hate is self-perpetuating in its counterfeit-like origins and then prophetically self-fulfilling in its discovery. …

This realization has stripped me of 99% of any hate I may have had for Utah and its fans. Tradition became a very poor reason for me to harbor hate. This wasn’t a morally-based decision, either, though I know that the religion in which I believe teaches that hate is wrong. It was a practical one. What good does it do me to become so obsessed by the Utes and their fans? I can’t enjoy things in my own right without tying it to some sort of mocking-filled one-upsmanship? Can’t I just enjoy watching my team play football? Yes. I can.

I want BYU to beat Utah more than anything this week. I’m tired of seeing my favorite team lose, I’m tired of the mark that puts on even otherwise really good seasons, and I just want to celebrate winning the game for once. But it’s not because I hate Utah. It’s another football team that wears red, is in close proximity, and who BYU plays every year in usually-entertaining contests. That’s fun. The repetition — that’s rivalry. Not hate.

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