SALT LAKE CITY -- It's official now. Both Utah and BYU have left the Mountain West Conference.
Utah is now part of the Pac-12 with BYU spreading its wings into football independence and the West Coast Conference for other sports.
Utah's official inclusion into the Pac-12 was ushered in with a lot of fanfare and celebration. Ute fans gathered downtown to take part in the much publicized celebration.
"It's just a surreal thing to think that it's finally here. It's happened," said Ute commit Chase Hansen. "It's just an incredible thing, it's awesome to think that I'll be able to play in the Pac-12 with being able to play so close to home."
Utah has been able to make it to two BCS bowls despite being saddled with the MWC's exclusion of an automatic bid. For Hansen, it's a comfort to know that it won't be a problem going forward.
"All we have to do is win our conference now," said the Lone Peak QB/LB prospect. "If you can compete well in a conference like the Pac-12, then you can compete with anyone in the nation."
For Ute commits such as Hunter High School's Moses Folauhola, Utah's joining the Pac-12 conference is just icing on the cake.
"I was going to Utah, and I didn't care what conference they were in. I just wanted to be part of their program no matter what," said the defensive end prospect. "But being in the Pac-12? That's just incredible and it definitely makes being part of Utah's program even better."
For BYU, today's official break from the MWC wasn't met with a lot of scheduled hoopla. For those that have committed to join BYU's football program, however, they've been celebrating for a while.
"It's a great thing for sure that BYU will be seen by a national audience," said BYU's most recent commit Trajan Pili. "I committed to BYU because of its standards and everything that it represents. Now the whole nation will be able to see what BYU represents, and that is a great thing."
For commits such as Bobby Wolford of Jacksonville, Fla., it means his family will simply have the opportunity to see him play.
"That's obviously a great thing for them, but it's even more than that," he said. "I really had no idea what BYU was, being non-LDS and from Florida. I was lucky to have (BYU) find me. Now, much more good Christian kids with high standards will become aware of BYU, and that will be a great thing for the program."
Conference affiliations and ESPN TV contracts won't ultimately determine the success of each program going forward, however. Winning will always be the determining factor of any program's ultimate success.
Commits of both Utah and of BYU's football program are fully confident that the wins will continue, however. The only difference will be that the winning will be seen on a national stage.
"If you can beat the competition in the Pac-12 conference, then you can beat just about anyone in the nation, and everyone recognizes that," said Hansen.
"BYU has a great winning tradition, and now everyone will be aware of that tradition," added Wolford. "Everyone in the country will come to learn about BYU which will bring great exposure for the other great things about the program."
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