And it’s official.
Utah is leaving the Mountain West for the sandier pastures of the West Coast. Utah president Michael Young signed the Utes up after its board of trustees unanimously approved the University of Utah to join the Pac-10.
“This is a great day to be a Ute,” Utah president Michael Young said. “We have very much enjoyed playing in the Mountain West as one of the charter members. It has been a great conference, a terrific place for us to grow and thrive. The competition has been wonderful and the cooperation among schools has really been extraordinary."
The catchphrase was that Utah was going “westward toward the future” and let’s be honest, the future looks pretty bright for the Utes. Last year, Utah made $1.2 million in television revenue and could multiply that number times 10 with the Pac-10’s new television deal. The Utes will play better competition top to bottom and its academics (and likely admissions) will see a significant boost.
And all of it will happen in 2011.
Young made a comment that confirmed the Utes were looking to switch conferences for the 2011 season, which is something newly named Pac-10 member Colorado also is exploring.
“I want to start by saying how privileged we have been by playing in the Mountain West Conference for the past 11 years and how much we look forward to one more year of cooperating with them,” Young said.
So this upcoming season is a farewell tour for the Utes and the Mountain West and possibly a farewell tour for one of the most storied rivalries in college football.
And of course, that leads me to today’s question (you knew this was coming). Do you want to see Utah and BYU continue their football rivalry despite the fact that it won’t have a conference title on the line, and really won’t mean more than in-state bragging rights and a possible quality win? It’s unclear how many nonconference games the Pac-10 will play (looks like three), so do the Utes want to use one of those games against their fiercest rival especially with a tough Pac-10 schedule looming?
You know the drill. Send your thoughts to my mailbag and I’ll post them Friday. I have a feeling this will invoke some emotion from both sides considering how important this rivalry has become, especially in the past few years.