Listen. I ain’t been around here in ages. And I’m a tl;dr machine. And I know it ain’t many people’s cup of tea. But here’s a bunch of words. And if you want to reply with a tl;dr, well feel free to have a big glass of shut the hell up right now.
WHAT AN AWESOME WEEKEND!
The only thing better than that totally thrilling football contest is that I found this sweet 2018 NIT T Shirt at the Bookstore on Saturday and bought it for just $17. WHAT A STEAL!
I feel about Saturday night the way I felt that time I got both of my nostrils waxed at the same time - this is super unpleasant, but it doesn’t hurt as much as I think it should.
Maybe it’s because the better team won, plain and simple. So, like, what’s to hurt? The good guys got beat by a better team.
Or maybe it’s because Whittingham looks like Kirk Douglas now, and how can we expect Kirk Douglas to coach the good guys to a win?
Or maybe it’s because the rivalry in general has lost some juice, thank Bill Marcroft.
But I think the biggest reason is that, for the most part, losses just don’t hurt like they used to in the good old days. Back in the midst of MWC glory, every game felt like Utah had something to prove, this need to constantly justify how good the team was, or how worthy the program was. There was a desperation to it, this begging to be accepted and respected.
But after a decade at the big kids’ table, it just doesn’t feel like that anymore. Losses still suck, but none of them are tinged with desperation. They’re just losses. The FOMO is gone. The need for accolades is gone. Utah doesn’t have anything left to prove, or at least anything to prove in a game like the one on Saturday. The 2019 Championship game? The 2018 Championship game? Any loss to those mouth breathing hose monkies from ASU? Those ones hurt and they mean something.
But for some reason, Saturday didn’t hurt. Not really.
Maybe if, against the laws of heaven and nature and reason, if the BYU rises up and goes on a little streak against the good guys, maybe it’ll hurt more in the future, it’ll feel more desperate. But I doubt it. It’s a bit sad to me, not caring as much, but that’s all agua under la cabeza, as they say.
Four other thoughts:
First, I think we Utes sometimes forget the lesson of the cinematic wonder Ratatouille. It’s not that every team can be great, but a great team can come from anywhere. Our boys Saint Urban and Saint Kirk Douglas built this freaking thing from the Mountain West conference, the same conference with the logo that looks like a blind kid tried to draw Stonehenge. And we all know, WE KNOW, that 2004 and 2008 could’ve and should’ve played with anybody. So we gotta stop with the assumption that P5 means a damn thing in the micro, or that there’s some superiority to it in every game. It doesn’t, and there isn’t. In the macro, it means a zillion things. In the micro, sometimes it don’t mean jack shiznits.
Second, the Mighty Utes are what they are because they consistently beat teams with better recruiting rankings, with more “talent.” We should know better than most that the outcome of a football game is not taking the sum total of “talent” on two rosters and awarding the victory to the team with the bigger integer, or whatever, I didn’t go to Stanford so this is hard. My point is, I believe the coaches when they say this is a deep team. I believe the recruiting sites when they say recruiting has improved. I believe this means good things for the program. But “talent” means exactly zero Yankee dollars without experience and psychology and group dynamics and execution and ambition and all the other glorious stuff that makes college football the coolest thing on this planet other than Jack In The Box Tacos.
Third, I think I underestimated how much of a challenge the pandemic posed for the program. I know, all programs went through it and blah blah blah blah… But 2019 was a pinnacle year. It ended in the suckiest of ways, but it was a pinnacle year. And, of the dudes from that 2019 team that wore BYU’s asses like hats, how many of them played at the groin shriveller on Saturday? Five? Six? I think putting the actual experience of these human beings into context matters. 2020 was rougher on some programs than others. It kicked Utah’s ass up around our ears. That doesn’t necessarily excuse or explain away the loss, but I think it does add context.
And Fourth, I think we underestimated what a total buzzsaw that game was going to be on Saturday night. Winning makes teams and fans feel good, and even if it’s a fanbase full of men who had seriously delayed puberty and who think that ridiculous Sailor Hat Cougar is the coolest thing since Hello Kitty, the BYU has won lots of games lately and that program is feeling good. That matters. Add that to the Big 12 invite (which means much different things than those people realize right now), a dozen years of losses, a program that may have had the best outcomes in the whole country from the last 18 months of weirdness, a stadium of 63,000 zealots creating maybe their most hostile environment ever aimed at a team with like six dudes that had played a true road game in their life, a Utah team with little identity or culture yet, and the fact that BYU always has some dudes and has one of the highest built in floors of any team in college football, and the psychological advantages leaned so heavily toward the Mighty Cougars that the earth may have spun off its axis.
BYU was better. Utah decided to line up and go right at them and out talent them man-for-man, and they couldn’t. BYU won the trenches, and I think every other thing about the game is related to that.
So, great job Fist Rollers! Props to you!
But none of you have a 2018 NIT T Shirt.