Utah football: Kyle Whittingham, Chris Hill hope rivalry cools down
Utah athletic director Chris Hill and coach Kyle Whittingham said they appreciate the emotions revolving around the Utah-BYU rivalry, but hope it can find a more civil level than in the past.
Among the lowlights of recent games was the scuffle that involved Whittingham's wife, Jamie, BYU quarterback Max Hall calling Utah and its fans "classless" and Utah's players crossing midfield to taunt BYU's players in pre-game activities.
"It has gotten overboard in situations to say the least," Whittingham said. "I hope cooler heads prevail this year and it's uneventful without any situations in the stands and on the field. You have to keep it in perspective. It's a great rivalry and the game is intense but we don't want that line crossed over, 'we' being everybody involved."
Hill said he is unsure whether the rivalry will calm down some now that the teams aren't in the same conference.
"It feels different, but time and experience will tell," he said. "We really are a test case moving from a non-automatic conference to a BCS conference."
Herbie picks BYU
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit likes the way Utah is playing, but he is giving the edge to BYU when the teams meet Saturday.
Herbstreit, who was on a ESPN teleconference call Wednesday, predicted a low-scoring game and sided with BYU because he thinks Jake Heaps is a better quarterback than Jordan Wynn and because the game is in Provo.
"Both of these defenses take on the tradition of these two head coaches, and expectations are no matter how many guys are coming back BYU is going to be aggressive and it's the same with Kyle Whittingham and what he is doing," Herbstreit said. "It's early to know who would have the upper hand, but the fact the game is in Provo, gives BYU, in my mind, an edge in this game. It's a matter of Jake Heaps getting into a flow and getting the offense going. BYU has played some tough games to start the season, and any time you go on the road to the SEC, even when it's Ole Miss, it's still the SEC and a tough environment. They played a Texas team anxious to bounce back, so BYU might be a better team than most expect right now. I think I'd give an edge to BYU with Jake Heaps and where he is at as a quarterback."
Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow didn't want to talk about his time at BYU or his feelings on returning there Saturday, preferring to keep the focus on the game itself.
However, he has heard the rivalry has changed since he was with the Cougars (1973-99) and not for the better.
"My understanding is it's gone over the top and isn't fun anymore," he said. "People have gotten so wrapped up in it, that is a sad commentary. It should be fun."
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will be on Darren Rovell's new show, CNBC Sports Biz: Game On, carried by VERSUS, on Friday night to talk about the state of the Pac-12 and college football.