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Kragthorpe: Utes' MUSS creates mess vs. BYU

Published September 16, 2012 11:41 pm

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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

In terms of being satisfied with the outcome late Saturday night, I liked "Utah 24, BYU 21" for two basic reasons:

The presses were starting, and Sunday's sports section would have looked awfully funny with a bunch of blank pages.

And the more deserving football team always should be rewarded. Other than somehow allowing a 47-yard completion on a fourth-and-12 play, Utah outplayed and outcoached BYU.

Yet as everything unfolded just before midnight, part of me wanted BYU to tie the game and then win in overtime.

That may have stopped the madness.

Imagine if members of the Mighty Utah Student Section — and other, rank-and-file fans — today were living with how a 15-yard penalty called expressly on them cost their team the rivalry game, after giving BYU a second chance to kick a tying field goal. It just might have kept them off the Rice-Eccles Stadium field after (or during) games in the future, preventing injuries.

As of Saturday, they've brought to life the "meet us in a muss" fight song lyrics, that's for sure. Lessons would have been learned, presumably, if the final score in OT were BYU 27, MUSS 24.

Or BYU 30, Parents' Tuition Payments 27.

Or BYU 31, Stanford Band Revisited Thirty Years Later 24.

This stuff has to stop. The fans' culture of entitlement on campuses is tolerated way too much. Yeah, this is all supposedly part of the college charm. But it is not allowed to happen at NFL venues — or in the Southeastern Conference.

Injuries apparently are not any deterrent, because at least a couple of people were hurt Saturday, and last season's celebrations at Virginia and Oklahoma State resulted in hospitalizations.

But losing to BYU? Seriously, that could have made the MUSS police itself about ever swarming the field again, or led to a new administrative policy.

An hour after the game, stadium director Mark Burk wore the weary look of someone who had observed three separate field-rushing sequences from the press box. He can enforce only whatever guidelines exist, and he said any change must come from the presidential level. In other words, it probably would take a Pac-12 edict, like the SEC's.

Asked if the school needed to rethink its stance, Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said, "Evidently. You don't want to make the same mistake twice."

Generally, Whittingham was bemused that the penalty was called. His defense was his players also rushed off the sideline after the Utes blocked BYU's last-second field goal in 2010, and no flags flew then.

But as quarterback Jon Hays said, "That's the right call. They're going by the rule book."

Ute receiver Dres Anderson said, "The atmosphere kind of messed that [ending] up for us."

The difference this time is fans came onto the field while BYU's J.D. Falslev was running with the ball. He was allowed to do so, having picked it up behind the line of scrimmage (unlike the 2010 case) after Star Lotulelei blocked Justin Sorensen's kick. Fans already were stationed on the sideline, having flooded the field before one second was restored to the game clock.

That gave them easy access, while Falslev was running. Ute tacklers corralled him without help, but fan interference was the proper call.

In its own way, the MUSS validated the rivalry. People obviously do care about this thing. And all night, I was marveling about how Utah's students can affect the outcome of games.

That almost became more true than I ever imagined. Now, next to all those red "5s" they post to indicate false-start penalties that their noise may help create, the MUSS members need to add a blue "15" to remind themselves that their involvement should extend only so far.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt