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Senate salutes U. of U. football

Legislators call for college playoff after Utes go undefeated

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 10 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Utah Rep. Neal Hendrickson wears his University of Utah attire to honor school's undefeated football team on Monday. (August Miller, Deseret News) Utah Rep. Neal Hendrickson wears his University of Utah attire to honor school's undefeated football team on Monday. (August Miller, Deseret News)

A ceremony on the Senate floor Monday morning had everyone in the chamber seeing red as lawmakers took time out from their daily business to honor the University of Utah football team.

A resolution sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake, was unanimously approved, congratulating the team for its undefeated 2008 season and Sugar Bowl victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Coach Kyle Whittingham, University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill and members of the 2008 team were present, including kicker Louie Sakoda, wide receivers Freddie Brown and Bradon Godfrey and middle linebacker Mike Wright.

Whittingham thanked senators for the recognition, telling them the team was honored to "feel the love and support from the entire state."

Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, whose district includes the campus of Utah archrival Brigham Young University, offered his congratulations, and Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, who represents the district that includes the University of Utah campus, said the team "makes our state proud."

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, who changed into a red team t-shirt for the occasion, was presented with a signed red-and-white football.

"On a day like this even Cougars can be Utes," BYU graduate Waddoups said.

Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, cast his vote in favor of the resolution honoring the team by declaring, "a Utah man am AYE!" — a reference to the school's fight song.

Just before the team was honored, senators unanimously approved another resolution calling for a national college football playoff system. SJR11, sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, aims to address what some Utah football fans considered an unforgivable slight when the team did not get a chance to play for a national championship this year, despite being the only undefeated Division 1-A team in the country.

The House also recognized the Utes with a similar celebration. It even included a Utah clown — Rep. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley, who was dressed in a Utah sweater and a red-and-white wig.

Unlike Waddoups, Rep. Steve Clark, R-Provo, did not set aside the in-state rivalry.

"I'd like to know where he went to school, where his dad coached defensive football, and where his mom lives," Clark asked, knowing full well the answers tied the U. coach to BYU and Provo.

E-MAIL: dservatius@desnews.com

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