Empty Rice Bowl 

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If I were a corporate sponsor of University of Utah football, I’d want my money back. You know, it costs a lot of money to place a company logo up on the scoreboard or an ad in the program—or to really pony up and get an executive box above the west side bleachers.

It may mean a lot for some people to pay through the nose to hang with local big shots, but not for me. Nope, if I were paying to have a City Weekly banner hanging somewhere in Rice-Eccles Stadium, I’d expect at the very least that people would be there to see it. But after three home games, the Utes are doing as bad in fan attendance as they are on the field. It was so bad last week the guy selling gyros didn’t even show up. When people don’t show up for games, it means sponsors and food vendors are getting gypped.

That’s not to mention the poor fans who sit through what passes cordially as big-time football. Utah has scored two offensive touchdowns in four games, and has not had a lead in any of 16 quarters of football. The team is a Keystone Kops comedy on the sidelines, and comprises players who have a long history of committing idiotic penalties at every conceivable worst moment. If the Ute offensive coordinator calls one more play geared to gain 2 yards when we need 10—can you say screen pass?—what’s left of the die-hard Ute fans in Rice-Eccles Stadium will collectively puke their Dippin’ Dots. If this year’s version of Ute football is what passes for big-time collegiate football, then you’re reading the New York Times.

You can tune into any sports radio show, stay up for the weekend TV analysis, read the dailies or engage in coffee klatch if you want to hear and read the experts dissect the Ute football program. Is it lack of discipline? Bad coaching? Bad players? Bad attitudes? Bad luck? I’m not smart enough to figure that out. All I know is what I’ve seen over the past three weeks—and in the language of every bar patron and 7-year-old from here to Carbon County, Utah sucks.

The new Rice-Eccles Stadium looks like it was overbuilt by about 20,000 seats. Everywhere one looks there are no-shows, and those corporate sponsors, like First Security Bank, just aren’t getting their money’s worth. So, should you go to the next game, do ol’ Spence Eccles a favor and say, “That’s sure a nice sign you have up on the scorecard, bonehead.” He should be punting anytime soon.

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