As the college football season sets in, many can’t wait until the BYU Cougars arrive here at Rice-Eccles on Saturday. Across campus, MUSS members can be heard warming up their lungs and stocking fraternity houses in preparation for a weekend filled with festivity. Indeed, everyone on campus is anticipating the game infamously known as the “Holy War.” Following a rather tumultuous weekend filled with a handful of collegiate upsets, including the thorough annihilation of USC by the University of Alabama, coach Kyle Whittingham of Utah made a surprising announcement earlier this week. Citing his innate confidence that BYU will lose this year’s game, Whittingham has decided to remove modern equipment from his players, making a return to the classic leather uniforms worn throughout the early 1900’s.

While this announcement came as a surprise to many, no other group suffered from greater disbelief than the NCAA — the regulatory body for collegiate athletics. Realizing that their preoccupation with stripping players of their rights had blinded them from establishing a rule against the retro-attire, the NCAA permitted Coach Whittingham to proceed. With secure legal footing, Whittingham has chosen to switch to leather padding for the coming weekend, and potentially even longer. Although BYU initially resisted, their honor code prevented them from verbally protesting, meaning the game will continue unabated. Thus, as this weekend starts to near, a certain deliverance of knowledge can be felt descending upon the entire student body.

We must equip our players with the same gear as our ancestors from the early 20th century.

In an attempt to normalize the situation, allow me explain the logic behind the idea. Between the period of 1898 to 1941, the U established an eighteen game winning streak against Brigham Young University. Indeed, the Utes domesticated the wild Cougars numerous times, all while wearing the tanned leather hides of cattle. The pads, filled with the thickest wool felt available in the early 1900’s, are easily attached to any section of the body. The cushioning is typically layered over stylish turtle necks, accented with red stitching along the seams of each shirt. While controversial, plastic helmets were developed around the late 1940’s, meaning they were likely inaccessible to the U during their winning streak. Seeing as it’s vital to keep all traditions intact, leather helmets will indeed be utilized for the game.

Predictably, Whittingham received criticism on this point, especially from those who suggest that football causes “irreversible brain damage.” However, to say that Whittingham properly deflected these concerns would be an understatement. Citing former NFL executives and certified team doctors, Whittingham contended that concussions certainly don’t cause permanent brain damage to players. Rather, they teach young men that establishing manhood revolves around having your “bell rung,” a point that everyone can agree upon rather easily. Thus, the uniforms that the Utes will wear Sept. 10th will consist of the following: leather shoulder pads filled with wool, loose fitting padded pants, leather helmets with smaller holes to promote airflow, and wooden cleats.

While this might seem a little superstitious, the Utes are reportedly feeling confident about the game, especially as they channel the strength of former players. Yet the implications of this game stretch beyond the scope of Saturday, as there is the added potential of employing these outfits for the matchup against USC on Sept. 23. Following an unbelievably rocky season opener versus the University of Alabama, USC’s status as a national contender is certainly being questioned. This, in the eyes of Whittingham, is an opportunity he seeks to capitalize upon. While acknowledging the Trojan’s gentility and class, an enduring characteristic of the team, the Utes hope to defeat their fellow PAC-12 rival handily. The leather padding employed during the 1900’s should indeed withstand the impact delivered by modern polycarbonate helmets, in addition to establishing the aforementioned manhood of players.

While the decision regarding attire for Sept. 23 is undecided, contingent upon the results against BYU, those planning on attending the Sept. 10 game are encouraged to imitate former spectators. This can be accomplished through purchasing fine top hats and corsets for game day, in addition to an umbrella should any sunlight or rain emerge. Should everything go according to plan, however, the Utes should be able to reestablish their dominant forty-three year winning streak against BYU. Until then, get ready to spectate one of the most electric rivalries this side of the Mississippi River, and keep warming up those lungs.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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