Dick Harmon: Former Cougar/Ute dreams of returning respect to rivalry
Some have suggested that now that Utah and BYU are headed in separate conference paths — Utah to the Pac-12 and BYU to independence — things may change.
"It will solve a lot of problems," he said. "We'll play earlier in the season in football and the intensity will naturally subside a bit."
Should there be a timeout, something along the lines of a five- or 10-year break in BYU and Utah playing football, as some have suggested?
"No, I don't think so," Beckham said.
"I think we're only 45 miles apart and it's a healthy relationship if we could just take out the violence and meanness. We are two great universities and it would be a shame if these two universities could not continue to meet. It would be a terrible thing if we didn't continue playing each other every year."
When shown incidents on YouTube and the Internet of outrageous fan behavior at BYU and Utah home games, Beckham said there will always be a few knuckleheads.
"They get so caught up in controversy and hatred, they'll do almost anything. I believe you just have to ignore it. To a large extent, the hosting schools can do more to police things and ask their fans to help bring civility, and I think they are.
"When I've gone to Notre Dame, I've never been treated better as a visitor. They are the absolute perfect hosts," said Beckham. "If any fan of Notre Dame were to act in that way, the school would condemn it and apologize and never let that fan buy another season ticket. That's Notre Dame."
Beckham says BYU and Utah fans can rise above what we're witnessing. This week, the spotlight is focusing on Rice-Eccles Stadium, but a year ago it was Provo where coach Kyle Whittingham's wife was involved in an incident with a BYU fan.
Beckham says Utah's president Michael Young, his vice presidents and his athletic director Chris Hill are all very good people who want good things.
"It is the same at BYU, with those in charge, they don't want bad things to happen," he said.
"The University of Utah is one of the greatest institutions in the country and it is made up of quality people. You have William Sederburg as commissioner and he's first class. It's unfortunate a few rabid fans bring disgrace upon both the 'U' and the 'Y.' …
"I have nothing against healthy, robust competition and enthusiasm by fans. But some feel if you buy a ticket to a game you have the right to do and say what you want. I guess that is true but you can take it too far," Beckham said. "We've become too rabid, too mean and too violent. Wholesome competition is a good thing."
Beckham says BYU and Utah do so many good things at so many levels.
"But you get down to the very lowest level of fan, you have this seething animosity and hatred and it's not just one, it's both sides who have embarrassing fans.
"We have two great universities who should be proud of their histories and their teams and their fan bases should be the type of fans who are supportive and not destructive. That's what's happening, it's destroying the game," he said.
"My life's ambition was to be a football coach. I love the game, but I think the actions of a few are destroying a very good thing."
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