Ruminations on Utah-BYU Hoops


Jan 25, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Saint Louis Billikens head coach Rick Majerus talks to his team during a time out in the second half against the Xavier Musketeers at the Cintas Center. The Billikens defeated the Musketeers 73-68. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

This piece on the recent BYU domination of the Utah-BYU hoops series got me thinking this morning.  Man it didn’t used to be like this. (and note that piece is wildly depressing if you’re a Ute fan so don’t feel the need to go and read it, it was just a jumping off point for me).

Back in the 1990’s things were far different, and maybe some of you kids just don’t recall this.  In 1989 Utah’s young new athletic director Dr. Chris Hill fired popular but bad basketball coach, the late Lynn Archibald.  It was one of many times Utah would be taken to task, being told by the Salt Lake media, why do we think we can expect better.  Hill hired a really fat coach from Ball St.  Around the same time and I’m not sure of the time frame, LaDell Anderson stepped down at BYU and they hired Roger Reid.

Now things didn’t start out looking great for Utah.  Our new coach needed 6 bypasses to his heart while ‘ol Rog went out and recruited the Final Four in 1994 class (BYU had these bumper stickers printed, in 1990), Shawn Bradley, Ryan Cuff and someone else whose name escapes me (it was Ken Roberts).

Rick returns in 1990-91 and promptly goes 30-4.  Utah loses the WAC tourney to BYU after dominating the regular season because Tyrone Tate couldn’t hit a point blank wide open layup.  Roger has WAC Championship rings made.  Yeah the guy was a dick.

But over the next few years, Roger would beat Rick more than Rick beat Roger.  The peak of that was 1994.  Do to a bunch of recruiting misses and just bad luck by Majerus, the 1994 team was horrid, except for a really skinny freshman named Keith Van Horn, who could score but hated defense or contact.  BYU swept Utah that year but the real turning point was the 1994 WAC tournament.  That tournament was in Salt Lake City and Utah-BYU was a first round match-up.  The WAC being the WAC wouldn’t let the game be moved to the late night session so they played at noon.

And Roger thought this was a good time to run up the score.  The Cougars were pressing up 30 with 3 minutes to play.

Roger would win only one more time, next year in Provo and by December, 1996 he was out of a job.  Bradley never returned from his mission, opting to the NBA.  Ryan Cuff transferred to Arizona St. I believe and that was that.  While Majerus turned the tied of things by signing the base of our 1998 Final Four team over the next couple of years.

Utah would dominate BYU for the next while.  BYU didn’t win again for several years.

I say all of this because things can change radically in this rivalry.  And quite frankly it’s time to start.  Yes BYU is good, they’ve got a whole team of legacies.  But we’ve had 193 people come in and out of the Utah program in the last few years all in the name of getting better.  It’s time that this happens.

In fact I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t.