Bleeding Red: Trying to manufacture a Utah/Colorado rivalry

Like playmates pressing to prove who is best
Desperately seeking to first pass the test
Which school will be first to finally get
From old-time conference schools some respect

COMMENTARY — The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (OK, OK, the online version) defines “rival” as “one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess.”

Are Utah and Colorado rivals? If measured by the above definition, then perhaps so. I know Larry Scott would love to see that rivalry cultivated and developed.

Utah and Colorado are the newcomers to the Pac-12. Both of them are still seeking validation and respect. Who will be the first to possess it?

Two years ago, during its first year in the Pac-12, Utah had an opportunity to play in the inaugural Pac-12 Football Championship game. All Utah had to do was beat lowly Colorado at home in the season finale. Sounded simple — too simple. Unfortunately, Utah lost to Colorado, and both football teams were rendered irrelevant that year.

This past year Utah avenged the prior loss by beating one-win Colorado in Boulder. I guess we showed them! However, finishing 5th and 6th in the 6-team South Division is not going to win either team any respect from the rest of the Pac-12 any time soon.

Utah was supposed to make an immediate splash in the Pac-12 football world, but has yet to do so. But neither has Colorado, not even close.

However, Colorado has already made some noise in Pac-12 basketball.

In their first meeting on the hardwood court as members of the Pac-12, Colorado pummeled Utah 73-33 on its way to sweeping the season series.

Colorado then used a first round win over Utah as a springboard to winning its first Pac-12 Basketball Tournament in as many tries. Basically, Colorado was able to do in basketball what Utah should have been able to do in football.

In their first match-up this year, the Runnin’ Utes turned the tables with a win over the Buffaloes, albeit in less convincing fashion than Colorado’s first win against Utah last year. In order to stay in the top half of the Pac-12, Colorado had to beat Utah in Boulder last week . . . and it did.

The way things are looking right now, it is a distinct possibility that Utah and Colorado will meet again in the first round of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament this year. Will Utah be the one raining on Colorado’s parade this year? I sincerely hope so.

Larry Krystkowiak has made it clear that one of Utah’s goals this year remains to be winning the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament. Beating Colorado in the process would be a nice touch.

So, much to Larry Scott’s delight, it looks like a bona fide rivalry may be brewing between Utah and Colorado. Will it ever replace the Utah-BYU rivalry? Not a chance! It won’t even come close.

Comparing the intensity of the longstanding Utah-BYU rivalry to the intensity of the still budding Utah-Colorado rivalry is like comparing the brightness of the sun to one of those key ring flashlights that you squeeze in order to emit a faint glow of light sufficient to see the keyhole on your car door. True, they both give off light, but no one would ever confuse the one for the other.

Notably, in a recent Pac-12 Networks broadcast in which the top Pac-12 football plays from last season were ranked and counted down, the finish of the Utah-BYU football game was ranked number five. Not bad. I’m betting it is years before a Utah-Colorado football game warrants equal attention from the Pac-12.

Nevertheless, it looks like the Utah-Colorado games may take on a little more significance than just another conference game.

Speaking of rivals striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess, how about those Red Rocks? The eighth-ranked Utah gymnastics team beat Stanford at home last week, leaving sixth ranked UCLA as the only Pac-12 team rated higher than the Red Rocks (not to mention the source of the Red Rocks’ sole loss this season).

Colorado? Not even on the radar in gymnastics — unless you count the human highlight reel that tumbles across the floor during timeouts and halftime, and is featured in Colorado’s marketing commercial.

Thankfully, the Red Rocks will always give Utah fans something to cheer about on the hill. Hopefully, in the not so distant future, the football and men’s basketball teams will as well (and ideally at Colorado’s expense).


Dwayne Vance is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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