RICK MAJERUS SAYS coaching the Utes isn't as much fun as it used to be. This is because expectations are so much higher.

Before the Utes became a perennial powerhouse, fans used to get excited about their team playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Now they leave a number where they can be reached: Call us when things get serious."Everyone will tell you it's more fun on the way up," Majerus said.

Apparently, Steve Cleveland is having a lot of fun in Provo.

The Clippers must be having so much fun it's illegal.

Think of the fun the Bulls have missed out on all these years.

UTEP's football team is the Fun Capital of the world, a virtual Disneyland. Assuming, of course, that time proves they are actually on their way up and not in a holding pattern.

Now we know why the Chicago Cubs and Red Sox never win it all.

They're having too much fun.

The Seattle Seahawks are thinking about renaming their home stadium - The Fun Dome.

Majerus was pining for the old days while the Utes were waiting to play Round 2 of the NCAA tournament last week. The coach, not to mention the talk-show crowd, thought Ute followers were a little ho-hum about the team's tournament berth.

"Our fans and university and players are so accustomed to success," Majerus said. "It's not as fun as it should be."

Meet the agony of victory. Clearly, winning isn't all it's cracked up to be, but you know what they say - you can't lose 'em all. Winning is like everything else - you can have too much of a good thing. The symptoms are readily recognizable - a low score on the fun meter, high pressure, chronic and rampant expectations.

Jazz fans used to be satisfied with any playoff berth, then the second round, the semifinals, the finals. Now they want a title.

"We're like the Jazz; I sense their frustration," Majerus said. "We're getting to the point in life when people say, `Well, when are you going to the Final Four?' " Now that the Sweet 16 is as routine as Meet the Team Night.

Maybe the biggest mistake the BYU foot-ball team made was to win the national title. They haven't done much right since. Conference titles and Holiday Bowls were fine until then.

Roger Reid created such a high standard that the first time he couldn't reach it he was sent packing.

"Sometimes you get eaten up by the monsters you create," Majerus said. "You don't know how much winning is enough."

Twenty-five wins, or 27? The Sweet 16 or the Final Four? One league title, or two?

Majerus' monster is big, like its creator. The Utes, who claimed three NCAA berths in the 1980s, have six of them in the '90s under Majerus and have won at least 24 games in all but one season this decade. They've made it to the Sweet 16 four times in eight years, including the past three years.

"We're expected to win now," Majerus said.

And it's his own fault.

"It's a good problem to have," Majerus said rather weakly. After all, you know your team has arrived when . . . everybody yawns through the first round of the NCAA tournament. Or when you win 25 regular-season games and no one notices. Bad programs don't have this problem.

(By the way, if Majerus had fun on the way up, when exactly was that? In his first full season as coach, the Utes went 30-4 and made it to the Sweet 16.)

Ah, for the good old bad days, when the Utes made the NIT. Majerus sounded almost envious of the Aggies, who made their first NCAA appearance in a decade last week.

"There is tremendous excitement in Logan," he said.

(Now that the Aggies have made it to the NCAA tournament, you know what that means? Fun's over.)

Well, there's always next year. The Utes will lose a number of players and possibly more games. "That will be a rebuilding year," Majerus said. "I don't know if our fans will accept it."

Perfect. The Utes can throw in a losing season or two and start over. Remember, it's more fun on the way up.