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Rolly: Good, bad, ugly in Utah-BYU rivalry

Published September 14, 2012 8:44 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Saturday's Utah-BYU game will be the last rivalry contest played in Salt Lake City for the foreseeable future. The history of incidents makes the case that suspending the rivalry is probably a good thing.

It has become way too ugly.

• During a 38-8 BYU blowout of Utah in 1977, Cougar Coach LaVell Edwards sent star quarterback Marc Wilson back into the game with less than two minutes to play so he could set an NCAA passing record, which he did with 571 yards. Ute coach Wayne Howard accused Edwards of running up the score to embarrass Utah and in his post-game remarks said, "The hatred between BYU and Utah is nothing compared to what it will be …" That spurred an onslaught of hate mail from BYU fans who demanded the U. fire Howard. Some even sent death threats. It was Edwards, ever the gentleman, who calmed the situation, urging BYU fans to let the comments go.

• The bad feelings carried into other sports. During a baseball game in the mid-1980s, BYU players taunted the Ute pitcher, who reacted by throwing a fastball into the Cougar dugout, igniting a bench-clearing brawl. In April 2004, eight Utah baseball players hiked onto the hillside above BYU's campus and painted the large concrete "Y" red. They took pictures of themselves with the red "Y." Unfortunately for them, however, an employee of the store where the pictures were developed happened to be a BYU fan. He notified police and the Utes were charged with a second-degree felony.

• In 1993 when Utah's Chris Yergensen kicked a 55-yard field goal to give the Utes their first victory in Provo in 22 years, the Ute players attempted to tear down the BYU goal posts, which nearly resulted in a mob brawl on the field. BYU nose guard Lenny Gomes said in post-game remarks that the Utes had no class. "When I'm making $50,000 to $60,000 a year, they'll be pumping my gas." Gomes got so much flak for those remarks he later went by a different name.

• During the 1999 Utah win in Provo, Ute cheerleaders celebrated a touchdown by running along the sideline with a Utah banner when a fan ran out of the stands and tackled one of the cheerleaders, who then proceeded to pummel the BYU fan. Receiver Steve Smith then taunted the Cougar fans: "Even our cheerleaders are kicking your butt." BYU officials tried to figure out a way to punish the cheerleader but in the end had to concede that he had the right to defend himself.

• Just before the Utah-BYU football game in 2008, a couple walking down 400 South in front of Rice-Eccles Stadium and wearing BYU colors got into a confrontation with what witnesses described as a "drunk Ute fan." The Ute fan slugged the woman, who was pregnant, and knocked her down. The assailant ran off. Medics examined her and determined she was OK to proceed into the stadium for the game.

• Then there was the famous post-game rant by BYU quarterback Max Hall after a Cougar victory in 2009. He said he hated everything about Utah, including their fans, who he claimed had a year earlier thrown beer on his family (he made similar allegations about Arizona fans when talking about his brief tenure at Arizona State). That prompted the printing of red T-shirts worn by small children that said: "Max Hall hates me."

prolly@sltrib.com