An hour after the Utah/BYU football game on Nov. 28, BYU quarterback Max Hall made his now-famous remarks about how much he hated “everything” about the University of Utah.
Among his reasons
for hating all the players, fans, plants,
liberal-arts instructors and maintenance
sheds at the U was his contention that during
2008’s game, his family was treated
to a variety of “nasty things” at Rice-
Eccles stadium. By nearly all judgments,
the most awful act committed by those
Ute fans was that they tossed beer on his
“family and stuff.”
You can check for yourself, but I’ve
already wasted a day of my life reading
the online comments about Max Hall’s
remarks. Many revolve around the notion
of that spilled beer in Rice-Eccles stadium.
BYU fans love to call Ute fans drunks. Ute
fans marvel that people who claim both
purity and sobriety behave like clowns one
minute and wolverines the next. It’s really
just a big misunderstanding.
I’ve seen plenty of contraband hooch at
Ute football games, so I’m not prepared to
call Max Hall an embellisher. Who wouldn’t
be upset if that really happened? But I wonder
why he waited a year to vent and why
he defined beer as the weapon of choice.
Would he have been OK with French’s mustard?
What if his family were whipped by a
churro? Bad behavior doesn’t require hops
and barley, but hey, if blaming beer allows
you to ignore your own foibles, so be it.
That’s what beer is for, by the way.
I wasn’t drinking, so here’s what I
plainly remember about Saturday’s game:
Utah kicked off and stopped BYU on three
downs. BYU punted and Utah scored a
field goal. Utah kicked off again and again
stopped BYU. BYU punted. Utah scored
another field goal, making the score six
nothing for Utah at the end of the first
quarter. Utah lost the game right there
when they could only muster 6 points
instead of 14 on those two possessions.
During the game, I must have praised Max Hall a half dozen times. If his team needed 12 yards on 3rd down, he scrambled or passed for 13. He was playing to win—a pity folks won’t remember that. Meanwhile, Utah’s players were engaged in a different game called: “Let’s do something stupid and make the guy over there in the striped shirt blow his whistle.” Utah played about as undisciplined a game as they could— and that’s on the Utah coaches.
But, like so many good rivalry games,
the brave and righteous Utes challenged.
At the buzzer, the game was tied at 20 after
Utah added two more field goals—and lost
eight more points in the process. Utah’s
five scoring possessions
could have and
should have yielded
35 points, not 20. So,
by my reckoning Utah
won, simple as that.
But, rules are
rules, and the game
went into overtime.
Utah quickly kicked
yet another field goal
and was primed for a
nice upset when Hall
threw a 25-yard touchdown pass, giving
BYU a scoreboard win of 26-23. As I
regard myself as a jolly good sport, and
because I know Utah actually won, it was
really easy for me to go on with my life by
clicking off the TV. No sorrow. No regrets.
Good game, Utah. Good game, BYU. Good
game, Max Hall. See you next year. I
settled into Facebook.
So it was that I missed the ruination of
that fine game when Max Hall’s pent-up
emotions exploded into Utah lore like a
teenager’s zit on a locker-room mirror.
As one who has pissed off plenty of people
and also wrongly made too many generalizations
via this column, I knew Max
Hall was delivering words he’d soon regret.
I also knew that if he were lucky, somebody
would smack him or speak to him in a manner
that would ignite his inner light, and
he’d say, “Yep. I was an asshole.”
That’s how it happens to me at least. But prima donnas are rarely smacked and thus far, no one of authority or status has so much as repudiated a single one of Hall’s words. I guess they approve, then.
A few years ago, I went off on BYU
myself—oh, and Utah County, too—
prompting a number of BYU fans to call me
on the carpet. They were good guys who
didn’t “deserve” (a Max Hall word) what
I’d written. We exchanged several friendly
e-mails, and one fellow even sent me some
strawberry Jell-O to appease my Ute red
heart. I think I did OK at apologizing to
I read Max Hall’s apology. It isn’t one.
It’s an explanation. He reiterates the ugly
points he made in his
spiel to boot—real
apologies don’t do that.
Real apologies are like
the ones Tiger Woods
must be giving his wife
right now. If Max Hall
owes anyone an apology,
it’s to his teammates
and his school,
not the University of
Utah. If you want to
accept Max Hall’s
apology, go ahead. I never asked for one.
Nor did any Ute fan I know—many of whom
consider the feeling is mutual anyway.
Max Hall is a “righteous, holier-than-thou
BYU jerk,” according to a good LDS
friend with whom I spoke this morning.
“They just don’t get it,” he said. “They
make us all look stupid.”
Who are “they?” They’re all those people like Max Hall who put an ugly face on the religion and institution they claim to love and represent. He’s the football-playing missionary who BYU’s preachy coach Bronco Mendenhall bargained for—delivering acidic fighting words one minute and hollow solemnities the next. Until he wises up, his original words define him. Have you seen the hot, new “Max Hall Hates Me” T-shirts, yet?
Poor Utah—defined only by an empty beer can.