Thursday, June 17, 2010

Utah to Pac-10

For nearly 30 years, there has been talk (albeit in Utah) about Utah and BYU joining the Pac 10. This began shortly after Arizona and Arizona State joined back in the late 70s. When Colorado left the Big 12 to join the Pac 10, I was thinking and hoping that Utah might get the node to accommodate them. It did not seem logic for Texas (especially Texas), Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to join forces with the major west coast teams. When Texas elected to stay put, the others followed suit. That meant Utah was the likely candidate to be the twelfth member of the Pac 10.

Ever since moving to Utah (20 years ago), I recognized the tie to the west coast. Utah is full of people from Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona. I-80, I-84 and I-15 are asphalt ribbons to home and entertainment along the coast. Utah (and BYU) do a great deal of their recruiting in CA and AZ. What I have wondered was why there was less tie to Colorado.

Utah and BYU play Colorado State and Air Force annually. Air Force always is a worth foe; CSU rarely. But there is no real rivalry.

We are 'forced' to watch Broncos games, as if that were our 'home' team. We get most of the Rockies games (which I actually appreciate). But the AAA Salt Lake Bees are affiliated with the Angels. We started getting Big 12 games when the Fox Sport network grew. But it has been a long time since the Ute played Colorado, though we have played them many times in the past (Utah is 24-30-3 against Colorado).

Having been a Ute fan since I went to grad school back in the 80s, Ute football was less than compelling. Rarely was there a sell-out. BYU had the more predominate team in the state. A series of events including Coach McBride, Coach Majerus, the 2002 Winter Olympics and a Rice-Eccles Stadium face-lift, the brief Urban Meyer era and the undefeated season, and the current reign of Coach Whittingham, have created greater ticket sales, donations and interest.

Utah is a fine university with great engineering, medical and law schools. I appreciate my business education from there. They have a great women's gymnastics team. But they have a long way to go in the other sports. A good skiing team does not buy them many points, just points to recruits and their families.

This is a great boon for Utah. BYU is feeling stiffed. (I can understand why the Pac-10 chose Utah and not BYU; and it is about religion and Sunday play.) BYU actually has better athletic programs overall and get more attendance at football games (64k vs. 45k for Rice Eccles) -- selling out more than Utah over the years. The Holy War rivalry will still exist, but will have less impact.

The Utes will be able to begin building a nice rivalry with the Bufs. Utah will be able to compete in the Pac-10. As I am a new resident of Tucson, I will welcome games at AZ and ASU.

I could not be happier as an alumnus. Go Utes!

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