Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rivals United, Rivals Hated

Since last October there has been much talk of movement in the world of NCAA football. These last few weeks have followed up in response to that as there has been little movement, much anticipation and a lot of drama.

Everything started with the Big Ten conference expanding to twelve schools. They snagged powerhouse Nebraska from the Big XII. Shortly after, the Pac 10 invited the University of Colorado to be the eleventh member of their conference. The Buffaloes showed no hesitation to accept the invitation. That is where the majority of the drama begins.

The Pac 10's expansion plans were made very carefully. The primary plan was to create a 16 school powerconference. Now with Colorado in, their focus remained in the Big XII. Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were heavily recruited to finish the gaps the Pac 10 was aiming for. That left basketball powerhouse Kansas nervous. A&M was also talked of bolting for the SEC conference. The fate of the Big XII conference lied directly in the hands of the Texas Longhorns. If they didn't head for the west coast, the others weren't wanted. Negotiations of new TV deals (Texas gets their own network) were a result of the Big XII remaining as a 10 team conference. No worries. There was a secondary plan. With eleven schools, expansion was irrelevant for the Pacific 10 conference. NCAA rules state that a conference must have at least twelve schools for a conference championship game to be played. That twelfth school was the University of Utah. Since 2003 the Utes have put their stamps on the college football rankings and discussions. They have won three conference chamionships in the Mountain West as well as two BCS bowls in seven years. Gladly, they accepted the invitation to join the Pac 10. However, the drama behind that was completely reversed from the Texas situation. Utah's rival BYU (at least their fans) have seemed to be jealous. This has made the rivalry between the two schools more fueled than ever. Unlike Texas and Oklahoma who have been very united in all of this realignment, the Utes have said good riddance to the Mountain West and their longtime bitter arch rival BYU. Boise State (who also has 2 BCS bowl victories since 2006) has taken Utah's place in the Mountain West. The Utes are said to have gained a much better recruiting base and will recieve ten times more money then they did in the MWC.

Will this be the end of the Holy War? Or is this a truckload of gasoline dumped onto the fire in Salt Lake City and Provo? Is the realignment finished? Will the Big XII live on? Word has it, conference expansion isn't over.


  1. Utah has been a good football program, reaching (and winning) two BCS bowls. But if not for the huge hurdle of being a church-affiliated school, BYU would clearly be the 12th member. But the Pac-10 made it clear that they do not want any church-affiliated schools (see also, Baylor) and so Utah was the default choice. Ute fans think they were the Pac-10's first choice... they were not. They have not "outgrown" BYU, as many Ute fans are claiming on message boards. Utes will have their work cut out. Rather than playing the occasional Oregon State, each week will bring a team of that quality. Good luck with that. And while football clearly drove expansion, Pac-10 basketball is a big deal and the Utes can now battle Colorado and Oregon State for the basement.

    Utah got the Pac-10 invite and BYU did not for one, and only one, reason: BYU is a church-affiliated school. BYU should go independent and control it's own destiny rather than waiting on the Mountain West to add a 10th team (or more in hopes of getting auto-bid status) or pipe dreams of a Big XII invite. Won't happen, and BYU will continue to be viewed as a "mid major".

  2. As for recruiting, just remember Ute fan, now you're recruiting against USC, Oregon, Cal, UCLA, Arizona, etc., not MWC anymore (besides BYU, which still trumps Utah for 99% of top LDS kids because BYU is till BYU for them).