Bleeding Red: Getting worked up for the Holy War

(sung to the tune of “Blue Christmas”)
I had a blue weekend because of USU
I was so blue because the Aggies beat the Utes
Such an unlikely feat, crimson red fell to blue
I hope there’s no repeat when we play BYU

COMMENTARY – Annoyingly obnoxious fan? Guilty. Sore loser? No way.

Kudos to Chuckie Keaton and Utah State for playing a great game and pulling off the overtime win over Utah. I’m not even going to try and blame the refs for a questionable overtime call – if your team plays poorly enough to require overtime, then you have to live with the consequences of such poor play. I do find some comfort in the fact that Gary Anderson coached at Utah for a number of years before migrating north to Utah State. Well done coach.

Utes QB Jordan Wynn announced his retirement Tuesday.

I know, I know, just last week I was talking about a potential special season for the Utes. However, I did note: “If Wynn goes down with another injury this year, Utah’s chance for a special season will be over.” Now that Wynn has announced his retirement, I reiterate that statement. The irony is that the Ute offense actually was more effective with journeyman senior John Hays and true freshman Travis Wilson behind center than it ever was with Wynn running the show.

The Utah State game did highlight one of my pet peeves – why don’t more teams try to block punts? The blocked punt for a touchdown, though early in the game, won the day for the Aggies (or at the very least was responsible for the opportunity for the Aggies to win in overtime). While I am grateful as a fan that Utah State didn’t go after another punt, why didn’t they? It reminded me of the Japanese prematurely terminating their attack on Pearl Harbor. Again, I am grateful, but why take your foot off of your opponent’s neck when you have them down?

Utah punted to Utah State 11 times. One was blocked for a touchdown, four were returned for a total of 41 yards (with two of those four returns going for 2 yards or less) and six were not returned at all. On the other side of the ball, Utah State punted to Utah nine times. Two were returned for a total of three yards, and seven were not returned at all. To sum it all up, only two out of 20 total punts were returned for more than two yards. What am I missing here? Why not put 10 guys on the line and try to block the punt every time, with a return guy back to fair catch or get out of the way (similar to most punts anyway)? I guess my view on punts is just one of many reasons I will never be a coach.

No sense crying over spilt milk. Instead, it is time to get over it and move on the Holy War this weekend. As I have emphatically stated time and again, I love this rivalry game and I will be sorely disappointed when it goes away. Throw their records and conventional odds out the window – anything can happen in this game. Accordingly, rather than trying to analyze a nebulous set of keys to winning the game like all of the other commentators, let’s take a look at this game from the fans’ perspective.

If Utah can just be patient and keep the game close, I’m betting Riley Nelson will start pressing to make plays. Although neither Washington State nor Weber State made Nelson pay for being reckless, Utah will. If Utah can win the turnover battle – with as much help as Nelson is willing to provide – then the Utes should get the win. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. NOW let’s take a look at this game from the fans’ perspective.

One of my favorite aspects of the Holy War is how worked up the fans get. True, some fans go overboard and cross the proverbial line. However, I think the out-of-control fans are a true minority and for the vast majority of people this is just a fun week to trade barbs with your neighbors, co-workers, members of your church congregation and even members of your family.

A number of years back my mom made me a Utah Utes-themed vest that I have paired with Utah Utes ties. A few years ago, my wife bought me a beautiful red zoot suit. Between these two lovely ladies, I have the ultimate victory suit. I even toned down the Zoot suit by replacing the red pants with a pair of black slacks. While I expected some reaction (which is the primary reason I wore my victory suit in the first place), I was amused at how many people told me that my red suit coat was inappropriate for church on Sunday. Notably, they focused on the red color of my jacket without specifically calling me out for my Utes vest and tie. However, many of these same people commented how beautiful my red jacket was when paired with green slacks and a holiday tie for Christmas.

I’m not even going to pretend to be impartial on this one. I hope the Utes beat the Cougars this weekend. “Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I! A Utah man, sir, and will be till I die; Ki! Yi!”


Dwayne Vance is a sports commentator and the views expressed here are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Annette Velarde September 12, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I grew up in Pullman Washington, hometown of Washington State University. I attended that school, where my parents were professors. All in all, I was capable of attending every home football game of the WSU Cougars for 22 years, and never went to even one. Not even with I knew under-age drinkers would be in the stands that I could test the waters of irresponsible adulthood with. Football? Yuck!

    But, now that you’ve thrown down the gauntlet so eloquently, Mr. Vance, I say this BRING IT ON!!! You better hope to high heaven the Cougars don’t trample your Ute’s, (isn’t that a pretty politically incorrect name these days? Wasn’t there some lawsuit of some professional team’s name that made the same racist reference not long ago? I foresee a lawsuit coming that will require ‘Ute’s’ to be changed to “Native American”, which is a lot harder to yell from the stands …). Otherwise, my needling will NEVER end!!

    Hey – you’re right! This IS pretty fun to take sides just for the heck of it and defend my meaningless position with undue passion! Thanks!

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