The Utes Move to the Pac-10: A Fable

Once upon a time, there were eight brothers. We’ll call them the Mountaineers. The Mountaineer brothers didn’t get along particularly well–especially the two oldest (Brigham and Udell), who were constantly bickering and taunting each other. Brigham was pretty much a priss, always telling the others what they should be doing. Udell, on the other hand, thought of himself as a bad boy. A loner. A rebel. Which was all fine and good, except for the fact that he was about as “bad” as a teddy bear. Put Brigham in a leather jacket, and you had Udell. Put Udell in a sports jacket, and you had Brigham.

They despised each other.

In fact, the only thing that kept all these brothers together was the fact that they were very competitive. They lived in a world where families sent their sons to compete in feats of strength. There were the Pack Rats, the 12 Giants, the Aces and more. All of these families were rich–at least ten times as wealthy as the Mountaineers. And with this filthy lucre, they made sure their boys were strong and swift. They ate the best foods and practiced in the best fields. The Mountaineers looked at all of this enviously.

“They’re not so hot,” Udell would say. “I could cream ’em with one arm behind my back.”

Brigham would sniff and dab at his nose. “Ruffians.”

The other six brothers would snarl and grunt in agreement. The Mountaineers all agreed that Sport was tantamount. It wasn’t about money. It was about honor and skill and bravery.

But as much as the brothers hated the other families, what they dreamed of more than anything in the world was to be like them. To have the respect of the world and the other competitors. And instead of just sitting around idly, wishing for their dreams to come true, the Mountaineers did something about it. They trained hard. They practiced day in and day out. They even adopted a new boy into the family, TC, who added a lot of strength to their regimen.

Years passed, and bit by bit, the Mountaineers began to get some respect. They started to beat the other families now and then. One year, they had a particularly outstanding performance in the competitions. The world at large started to wonder if the Mountaineers were even better then the Pack Rats. And indeed, this seemed to be the case. When they weren’t busy pummeling each other, the Mountaineers would taunt the Pack Rats, calling them nasty names and making fun of their money grubbing ways.

“We’re a stronger family than they are,” Udell would say. “I mean, I beat them myself like seven times in the last seven years.”

Brigham adjusted his neck tie. “Money grubbing ruffians.”

Udell glanced over at Brigham, then belched and scratched himself, just to prove he was different. He got up on a soapbox and started yelling at his siblings. “This isn’t fair! Why should the other families always have the best chances to compete? Why shouldn’t we have a shot at winning the entire tournament? It’s not about money–it’s about honor!”

“And skill,” Brigham added.

“And bravery,” TC piped up.

Udell nodded. “Exactly. We’ve shown the country what we can do. Those Pack Rats are nothing. They’re weak. We’re a stronger family by far.”

The boys’ father walked into the circle. “Good news, sons! I’ve adopted a tenth child. I’d like you all to meet Bronco.”

A new boy walked into the room, wild-eyed and looking a little blue-skinned for some reason. The brothers cheered.

“Super!” yelled TC.

“Capital!” shouted Brigham.

“Excellent!” roared Udell. “Now we’re gonna do it! Now we’re going to show the world–” Just then, his cell phone rang. “One sec, guys,” he muttered. “I really should have turned this off before–” He glanced down at the caller ID. “Oh–I gotta take this. Hold on. We’ll get back to our pep rally in just a second.”

Brigham picked up the slack while Udell was otherwise occupied. “This year, we’re going to have the best year ever. Our family will prove to everyone just how . . . good . . . we . . .” He trailed off, having noticed that Udell was doing his best to sidle out of the circle quietly. “Um . . . Udell?”

“Yeah, Brigham?”

“Where are you going?”

Udell paused and shuffled his feet. “Who? Me?”


“Oh. Well. See. That phone call? Well, that was the Pack Rats, and they said they wanted to adopt me into their family. So . . . I guess I’ll see you guys later.”

The other brothers stared at Udell. “You’re going to leave us?” TC asked.

“Well . . . yeah,” Udell said. “The Pack Rats are a really good family. I mean, they’re so strong, and they do so well in the tourneys each year, and . . .”

Brigham frowned. “What about all that bit about us being stronger than they are now? What about honor?”

“And skill,” TC moaned.

“And . . . bravery?” Bronco said, crestfallen.

Udell looked at each of his brothers in turn. “Yeah. About that. Well, see . . . when you get right down to it, the Pack Rats make like ten times as much as we do. I’ll be rich over there.”

“But if we stick together,” Brigham said, “We’re so strong now. We could possibly renegotiate our contracts with the–”

Udell shook his head. “No. We can’t. We’ll never make more money than the Pack Rats. I have to look after my wife and kids. There are bills to pay. Kids gotta eat. So . . . see you boys later.”

And with that, Udell headed off into the sunset.

And that about sums up my feelings on the Utes leaving for the Pac-12. Do I understand why they did it? Of course I do. Do I wish BYU were headed over to a bigger conference? Kind of. What I really wish would have happened is to have the MWC stick together and scrape its way into prominence. It still might. Who knows what the future holds? But I certainly find it very ironic that all the bellyaching about how much stronger the MWC is than the Pac-10 disappears the moment one of ours is invited to become one of them. What do you think? I’d love to get other people’s opinions on this–especially some non-MWC fans, if you’re out there reading this. Speak up!

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