There’s a decent chance that even though you’re a college student, you’re not into college football, and therefore couldn’t care less that Utah has been admitted into the prestigious Pac-12 athletic conference, or that BYU has gone independent and garnered a nifty ESPN contract. Maybe you just don’t have time amid all the studying/partying you’re doing. Maybe you’re just not terribly motivated by seeing one large, sweaty man try to grab the body of another large, sweaty man. Maybe you went to college to be intellectually challenged while expanding your horizons, not to get emotionally worked up about the performance of people you’ve never met.
Even if you couldn’t care less about pigskins, the Pac-12 and independence will still have an impact on your life, for better or worse. Here are five reasons why you should care, even if you can’t tell a first down from a free safety.
1. You’ve finally entered the big time.
“But wait,” you say, “I already attend a large research university in Salt Lake City that has a Nobel Prize winner on staff and highly ranked medical, law and business schools.” Or, you’re saying, “I already attend one of the largest faith-based universities in the world, where a phenomenal percentage of the student body speaks a foreign language, and our graduates have developed everything from stereo sound to word processing.”
That’s all well and good, but Nobel Prize winners and groundbreaking research don’t get you on network TV, complete with commercials for your school—football teams do. As former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant said, “It’s kind of hard to rally around a math class.” Even if it’s for all the wrong reasons, 100 guys in helmets can raise the national profile of an entire institution of higher learning.
So while you may not know who Kyle Whittingham or Bronco Mendenhall are (the U and BYU football coaches, respectively), they have as much—or more—influence as anyone on campus as to how your school is perceived out in the “real world,” including raising the number of alumni donations and freshman applicants.
2. It gets rid of the “Utah mentality.”
The Beehive State no longer has to carry the mindset of being the insecure little brother or the upstart with a chip on its shoulder. Utah and BYU are no longer the kingpins of a time zone, league and TV network that all have the word “Mountain” in them. Utes and Cougs are now nationwide brands.
That change in terms of football should transfer over to other aspects of life here. Maybe we can all stop being so self-conscious about living here, stop making comparisons to other cities and just sit back and enjoy everything the place has to offer. Oh, and one other thing for the non-football fan: You no longer have to listen to people whine about the BCS (that’s the Bowl Championship Series) at parties.
3. You’re going to pay.
College football is sort of a Sisyphean project, in that the more money you bring in, the higher up the ladder you move, and the higher up the ladder you move, the more money you need to stay competitive. Most college football programs, despite having tens of millions of dollars to spend each year, end up barely breaking even or losing money. One way or another, students will end up having to help pay the ever-increasing bill. When it comes to money, think of your college football team as a gigantic methhead. If you give a methhead money, does he go invest it in stocks and bonds or save it for a down payment on a home? Of course not. He buys more meth! It’s the same for college football, as teams are always in need of a new high.
4. You need a new reason to hate
the other school.
The two teams will continue to play each other in football, but it won’t be the same as playing the last game of the season as part of the same league. It’s now a meaningless early-season game that either team can lose and still maybe get to a BCS bowl game.
Two things can happen going forward. 1. Utah and BYU people can simply stop caring about each other, go their separate ways and focus their ferocity on schools like Colorado and Notre Dame. 2. Both groups can look beyond football for reasons to continue to hate each other. We’re talking about a Max Hall-level hatred that encompasses the entire “other” institution and everyone associated with it. Take football out of the equation, and what are you left with? Utah fans have generally hated BYU fans for their self-righteousness, while Cougar fans have found the behavior of Ute fans boorish. Will that be enough to sustain things?
5. Better travel
You’ve traded road games in New Mexico and Wyoming for San Francisco and Honolulu. It’s understandable to have no desire to travel to Albuquerque for a weekend, but Los Angeles is a whole different story (visit CityWeekly.net for a guide to away-game cities). Call Mom and Dad and tell them you’ve finally become a football fan and you need road-trip money.