This guest opinion is about football and has nothing to do with religion, other than some sports journalists attempt to tag the BYU vs. Utah football game as “The Holy War.”
In the spirit of full disclosure, my older brother Mel raised me to be a Ute and only a Ute.
Somewhere along that path, I fell away. For a short period, I cheered for and even attended the school just north of Springville.
I have since returned to the Red and White fold.
When you consider Utah played OK — but not great or even good — in last Thursday and Monday morning’s 30-12 thumping, here are 10 reasons why BYU needs to permanently shelve its football program.
1. Ricks College did it: Twenty years ago Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) scrapped football and the sun still rose in the east the next day. God doesn’t care about football.
2. Fans have lost interest: The spark and spunk of nearly all my BYU friends over the once much-anticipated rivalry game has sputtered like a D.I.-rejected lawnmower.
3. Office cooler gab sessions about The Game were nearly reverent Friday morning. One friend told me he has adopted the Rhett Butler philosophy of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
4. President Russell M. Nelson is bold: Tough decisions are nothing new to this president of BYU board of trustees. Football is not a missionary tool and President Nelson would be unafraid to make this sweeping change. Besides that, he earned his undergraduate degree at the U and as a professor he completed the bulk of his world-renown research at University of Utah School of Medicine.
5. UVU could build a credible program: Many ask, “But what would they ever do with the stadium? Utah Valley University could build a football program to compete on the level with the likes of Grand Canyon University and New Mexico State. Granted, a crowd of 65,000 compares faintly to 6,500 and is not as exciting as a Heisman trophy or a national championship. But at least supporters could grab a caffeinated Coke at halftime.
6. Honor Code shackles recruiting: It’s an unfair fight. The percentage of college football players who shave every morning, use clean language, attend church regularly, live chaste lives, and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea is miniscule. Make that microscopic.
7. Honor Code never enforced in glory years: During the McMahon-Young-Bosco glory years, administrators and coaches turned their heads away from honor code violations. “Don’t ask. Don’t tell” was the unwritten mandate when BYU grabbed national headlines. Just ask 1980 Miracle Bowl heroes Jim McMahon and Clay Brown.
8. Focus on basketball: BYU could become the next Gonzaga by focusing its athletic endeavors on building a top-rate basketball program.
9. BYU priorities: Athletics in general and football specifically do nothing to fill BYU’s mission “to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.”
10. No conference: BYU would love to be in one of the Power Five conferences. However, because of the “No Sunday play” standard and certain social stances of the church, none of those conferences want BYU.
Plenty of mid-level athletic conferences would love to have BYU, but Cougar administrators have no interest in them.
As a result, BYU football will remain homeless for the near future with all the nuances of an independent schedule.
All I can say is good luck against Tennessee, USC, and Washington. Liberty and U Mass are just around the corner.
Charlie Roberts previously served as a bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.