The big game between BYU and Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium is only two days away, and the excitement and anticipation in the Beehive State is generating plenty of buzz. With such a long history between these two teams, there have been plenty of unforgettable moments.
So what moments stick out to former BYU and Utah players and what do they think of the rivalry now? Sports radio shows across the state have had plenty of former Cougars and Utes on the airwaves and asked them these questions.
Here is what they had to say.
Justin Giles is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
His thoughts on playing Utah
“When you're playing, you definitely dislike them ya know and you definitely want to win. It’s the biggest game, but once you step on the field, overall there is a mutual level of respect and I would say that the rivalry is intense but I wouldn’t say that it’s nasty on the field ….”
His thoughts on BYU and returning to Provo
“I like to forget about 1990. We went down there and we were ranked No. 1 in the country coming off a national championship and they (BYU) beat us and Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy and he never has thanked me."
How do players approach the rivalry game?
“It’s obviously different than any other game that’s on our schedule. The difference between playing a Colorado State or any other team versus Utah we may not sit and act like it's above any other game but you can just feel it. Even if they are not saying it is bigger than any other week, as soon as Monday rolls around and it's time to start preparing for that Utah game you can just feel a difference in the locker room, film room and in the meetings ….”
Who he liked to talk back and forth with during the game
“I had a lot of fun talking back and forth. It’s funny, a lot of fans when they see that they automatically assume that it's vulgar language and cussing and in reality it's not. A lot of it is fun to sit back and talk and when you get participation on both sides it’s a lot of fun. One guy I talked back and forth with throughout the game was Max Hall a little bit. He would run his mouth, he was good at doing that. But you know at the end of the game it's no hard feelings type thing. We both congratulated each other after the game and went our ways ….”
Is the hatred on the field as prevalent as it is in the stands?
“In all of my career I never noticed it. … I always respected them and I think it’s really to be honest with you more in the stands. Now I don’t know if there is a little bit of bad blood between the coaches, but when the ball kicks off and you start hitting, all that stuff kind of disappears and then it’s just another football game. I don’t know if you have time or energy to think about all those other things.”
How often do you hear "Harline is still open"? Did you feel that the University of Utah took the rivalry game more seriously?
“I definitely hear it more during the rivalry week, I’m a busy man these days. It has kind of been the storyline the past few seasons, it kind of seems like. BYU’s philosophy has been to treat it like any other game while Utah is just all about playing up the rivalry. What I have noticed is that with BYU, and it’s what I was alluding to two weeks ago about Texas, and I think it’s especially apparent against Utah. They play tight. Especially in this rivalry game, it seems that Utah for whatever reason they’ve been able to come out really loose and play kind of with nothing to lose, they have a little bit more of a chip on their shoulder. Utah plays with a little more attitude, and that may stem from their approach psychologically that they are treating it like a big game. BYU is trying to treat it as a regular game, and ideally you kind of do want to do that, but at the same time they know that it’s not and it's almost like they are lying to themselves about it .”
How does Bronco Mendenhall handle the rivalry behind the scenes?
“It’s interesting how Bronco handles it. He really tries to make the routine the same in every single game that you play. He tries to cut off all the outside influences. He does everything in his control to cut everybody else out but on the inside tries to make everything the same, and you can tell that he tries not to reference it more than he needs to and that he tries as much as he can to make it like any other week when it comes to around his players, meetings and everything like that.”
Do you feel different when rivalry week rolls around?
“At the time I would have thought like that maybe a few years out of it I wouldn’t care about it, but I love it. The whole feeling during the week, it still lives in you. I’ve been three to four years out now and I’m still excited about rivalry week. Going against BYU is huge for our university. This game is always everything. If we can win this game, no matter what kind of season we have, it will last for the whole year."
What would your approach be in the rivalry given the fact that both teams are not in the same conference anymore?
“It is definitely a different dynamic. Obviously I haven’t been a part of it in this sense. It was always fun having something on the line as far as conference championships or conference implications go, but I don’t think it’s any less intense now than it would have been then. It’s still a heated rivalry, especially for the guys that grew up in Utah and grew up around the rivalry, it’s a huge deal and having state bragging rights."
Thoughts on Kyle Whittingham and the rivalry game
“I will tip my hat and give credit where credit is due. Kyle Whittingham has done a tremendous job getting his boys ready to play us. There has been several times since in the last decade where BYU has had the far superior team and Utah has beat them. So credit to Kyle Whittingham.”