THIS HAS BEEN an amazing week; a week in which a lot of things happened I never thought I'd see. The University of Utah played in the NCAA championship game. Andre Miller became arguably the best player in this year's tournament. I even saw Rick Majerus pass a hot dog stand and not even slow down.
But the one thing I saw that I never, ever dreamed I'd see - in this life or any other - happened Thursday. There in the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune and Daily Utah Chronicle was a quarter-page ad congratulating the Utes on their great season.Paid for in full by BYU.
So it has come to this.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for sportsmanship. I think shaking hands after a game is great. Giving credit to the other team is wonderful, too. I even happen to think there's nothing wrong picking an opponent up off the floor after a collision.
But an ad in the papers? Get me a glass of water. I'm feeling a little woozy.
Some things you just assume you can count on. For example, you can count on Majerus making a food joke every time he has a national forum. You can count on the I-15 renovation taking longer than they said. You can expect to stand in line at the airport for an uncivilized amount of time. And you can count on Utah and BYU being the fiercest of rivals - which, if I understand the term "rivals" correctly, doesn't include sending love notes via the newspapers.
The Utes have beaten BYU so much lately, the Cougars have decided to call a truce, right?
Arizona State didn't buy up any ads when Arizona won the NCAA title last year. The Sun Devils took it like true rivals: they sulked. And I don't remember anything in the L.A. papers from USC when UCLA took the NCAA title in 1995. I don't even like to think what would happen if Florida State ran an ad when Florida won the national football championship.
Did Chevrolet send Ford congratulations for inventing the Mustang? Did Netscape applaud the arrival of Microsoft Internet Explorer?
I can only wonder what former BYU star Danny Ainge, the ultimate warrior, is thinking. This is a man who would shake hands after a loss, but would he want to take out an ad in the papers? Not even under threat of bodily harm.
Jim McMahon would have cursed the Utes and died.
The ad said, "The BYU faculty, staff, students, athletes and administrators congratulate Coach Rich Majerus and his players for their outstanding performance at the NCAA Tournament. WAY TO GO UTES!"
I personally know faculty, staff, students, athletes and administrators who would rather pass a kidney stone than congratulate the Utes on their performance. The last three weeks were some of the most excruciating days of their lives. I also know alumni who hated getting up in the mornings knowing the Utes won the night before.
Where's Roger Reid and Wayne Howard when you need them?
Here's a suggestion: Skip the ads and put the money in the recruiting budget.
I can only wonder what's coming next. Maybe a singing telegram or a balloon bouquet. How about a box of Mrs. See's chocolates and a dozen long-stemmed roses? Perhaps a singles ad in City Weekly: Single, white, LDS university, nonsmoker, seeking soul mate who loves long walks, starry nights and going to the Final Four.
Maybe an ad that says: "Please stay, Coach Majerus! We need you because you make the rest of us look good!"
Or LaVell could take out his own ad: "Way to go, Coach Mac, on kicking our pants four of the last five years. Keep up the good work!"
I will say this: It was big of BYU to do this. It must have taken some guts. There was a time when BYU wouldn't have acknowledged the Utes were even playing in the tournament, much less taken out an ad.
Maybe BYU deserves some credit for taking the high road. Maybe it should go ahead and praise the Utes all it wants. Fine. Tell them they're the greatest thing since fat-free chips. Tell them they deserve the world. But please, just don't call it a rivalry anymore.