One is a nationally known sports figure who lives in Salt Lake but says he'll never retire there. The other is a nationally known sports figure who left Salt Lake but says he wanted to stay.
Utah coach Rick Majerus and CBS commentator Jim Nantz each praised Salt Lake City and Utah as the Utes prepared for tonight's NCAA championship game."It's more than kind of an affinity I have for Salt Lake," said Nantz, a former KSL-TV sports anchor. "It's a real, heartfelt connection."
Nantz, who has been with CBS since 1985, was at KSL for 2 1/2 years until he got the call to work for the network giant. But he liked the area so well he stayed in Salt Lake another 2 1/2 years while working at CBS, until the logistics of getting to New York became too cumbersome.
"I didn't really want to move," said Nantz, "because I was in love with the community."
With the Utes in the national championship game, Nantz said he "would have loved to have been in Salt Lake to see the reaction" to Saturday's win over North Carolina.
Nantz, who was the television host for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, said he was crushed when CBS didn't get the rights to the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake. "I have told people the ultimate thing in this business for me would be to host the Olympics in Salt Lake City. They will do such a superb job."
After broadcasting Saturday's Utah-North Carolina game, Nantz said he received a request to go on the air with Salt Lake's CBS affiliate, KUTV, shortly after the game. He was exhausted after a long day of work but agreed to go on the air. "I normally wouldn't do it. But realizing it was a chance to kind of get a reaction to the community, I ran on a line to get on KUTV. I wanted to come on because I know how much it meant to all the people in Utah."
Meanwhile, Majerus, who has said that he won't spend the rest of his career in Salt Lake, defended the city. When a reporter asked him about becoming "accustomed to Utah . . . and how you grew to like it . . . and why you would stay there," Majerus quipped, "You are talking about it as if it is a Stepford Wives community."
Majerus, in his ninth season at Utah, continued: "It is different in the sense that, first of all, the topography of the land, the mountain range and the high desert valley, and you are quite out in the middle of nowhere to a certain extent. It is a big city with a small-town environment.
"The rest of it, obviously, there are not a lot of black people there, not a lot of ethnic diversity. The Mormon religion is the prevailing religion. But we represent the University of Utah, the State of Utah. It's a great place. I'm sad we are going to get the Olympics there, and it will get discovered and Californicated. It's just a nice place to live.
"You couldn't live in a nicer place. I'm not going to go to church on Sunday, but it's nice."