My status as a college football fan is known for blocks around. I am the BYU guy. Just look for the blue man on a clear night, à la the bat signal, and my "Bronco for President 2016" banner.
By the same token, I am not a big fan of University of Utah sports.
But hold on! I'm not all that fond of Boise State either, and I am an Idaho native.
I don’t dislike Boise State. And I don’t think my brother Paul, the world's biggest Bronco lover (the Boise State version) is a weirdo for painting a blue stripe to go with the orange on his Harley jacket. I think he is weirdo for many, many other reasons.
I have been a blue lover from day one. My mom and dad went to BYU. One of my nine sisters that I like went to BYU. My grandpa was an Aggie offensive linesman — Logan is way more blue than red — and once was out cold for a short count after getting clocked by a Utah cheerleader named Lavarkin Leadhammer in the 1930's. (That was before the cheerleaders had to be small and peppy.)
When I wear blue, fellow blue people come up to me, chat politely or wave at me as they drive by in their Ventures, Odysseys and Grand Caravans. We have shared a little moment together.
When I wear red
OK, I wouldn’t really know what would happen if I wore red. I have only worn that shade twice — once for a girls'-choice dance when my date bought me a tie that matched her poufy taffeta prom dress, and once in high school when I fell asleep lying on the trampoline to get a tan. Nightmares they were, both of them.
On both occasions, I was terribly immature. In case one, I was a pushover. In case two, I was not well informed of the health risks associated with frying my skin for the three hours it took to listen to America's Top 40.
Things have changed for the better. I know who I am, what makes me tick, what colors work best for me, and what colors make me look like Lavarkin Leadhammer. I am proud to say I am a Zoobie, and I like it.
At the same time, I don’t begrudge my Ute-loving friends for being Ute-lovers or my weirdo brother for installing smurf turf in his yard. I don’t want to have to keep my passion for BYU in check, so why should Utah fans keep theirs in check?
I don’t expect Saturday's game to be a love fest. I do expect that I won't have to brandish a torch through the Southwest section to protect myself from people who would just as soon rip my arms off as shred my little truck flag.
I also don't expect visiting Utes to feel the need to have a Relief Society president armed with a glue gun escort them to and from LaVell Edwards Stadium either.
Passion for your team has little to do with putting down the other side. How do rival fans from places like Ohio State and Michigan manage not to kill each other? I refuse to believe it's because they are more civilized.
Remember Harvey Updyke Jr. sneaking in to douse the ages-old trees at Auburn with poison? No love lost there. Funny, I don’t remember what team he was for, just the one he was against.
Like Mr. Updyke Jr., do we invest too much emotion in a game perceived to pit one fraction of the population against the other? Angst that isn’t dealt with directly might find an outlet on game day. Still, this isn’t the Cougars vs. al-Qaida, or the Utes against Syria.
It's us and the others that live by us. It’s Utahns celebrating the best game of the year matched perfectly with the best time of the year.
With that in mind, this goes out from me, the Y guy, to Mike McMillan, a fanatic Utah man who is on his way to Ukraine for two years. This is also for my next-door neighbor and his wife. He keeps the raccoons away from our chickens when we are away, and she babysits our young one while we teach in church — Ute fans both. They don’t “boo” or throw rocks when our outdoor lighting turns blue in the fall and a life-size Jimmer stares at them from our bedroom window. Judging by how kind and gracious they are, you would never know they "bordered on the brink."
And then there is Cil, a sweet gal at my wife’s workplace who wears red socks and a red wig during rivalry week, and darn it if she isn't vocal about how much she likes my family-oriented articles and genuinely wants to know how our children are doing.
I hope your team plays well.
In the long run, it may take a bit more than “What's your favorite color?" to get through the Pearly Gates when this is all over. Kindness, respect, and treating a neighbor in the same way you would want them to treat your grandma is much more important.
But, for the record, my grandma wears blue and still thinks LaVell Edwards is hot.
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