Crazy for U

To all the fans who withstood an old-fashioned soaking on Saturday night for nothing but the love of your team, I salute you.

It’s been said that exposure to cold wind and rain can cause the common cold, pneumonia and bizarre strains of influenza to appear out of nowhere. But no Utah men or women are going to be held back by fear of a viral infection when their beloved team is headed for a 7-0 record, and a possible BCS bowl berth.

No way.

You brave souls could easily have left early like many other Ute fans, or you could not have come at all like many UNLV supporters. The game was never really in doubt, so the option to go home with a clear conscience was open all night.

As I see it, there were several points throughout the game that presented an opportunity for a mass exodus. These points, when collected on a time line, create a perfect gauge for your level of devotion to the Utes. If you are currently in a friendly “I’m a bigger fan than you” debate with someone, refer to the following scale to settle the argument.

Points will be awarded based on a standard 10-point scale, with 10 representing the fans who wouldn’t leave Rice-Eccles early if their houses were on fire.

If you didn’t even go to the UNLV game, then your excuse better be tight if you consider yourself a diehard fan. Human death, severe illness, pregnancy and/or limb loss all get you off the hook.

The first opportunity to leave the game came after the first play. When Morgan Scalley scampered 90 yards for a touchdown on the opening kick, he effectively said, “Not tonight, Rebels.” If you left after this score, then consider yourself confident, intelligent and a bit foppish. This puts you at about a two on the Die Hard Fan scale. If you delighted in their kicker’s name being Zumkley Schulze, you’re a three.

If you left after Grady Marshall blocked UNLV’s first punt with 12 minutes left in the first quarter, because you knew it was going to be “that kind of night” for the Rebels, then you’ve lost points for making sure UNLV’s offense would falter. Have some confidence in the defense, you’re a one, and if you delighted in their punter’s name being Gary Cook, you’re a zero. It’s not a funny name at all.

If you left after Alex Smith took one play to throw a touchdown pass to Steve Savoy that all but said, “What, did you think we were going to lay down like BYU?” then you’re a three and a half.

It wasn’t raining all that hard when Travis LaTendresse scored his touchdown with 4:25 left in the first, but UNLV did prove it was completely incapable of dealing with the spread offense, so if you left at this point, then you’re a four.

At this point in the game, the rest of the sports writers for The Chrony and I decided that we’d be in for a rather lopsided affair, so we decided to make it more interesting by making side bets, for peanuts only, of course.

The first such side bet was offered up by Tye Smith, who bet the Utes wouldn’t score on their third drive. I accepted the challenge, and was even a little worried when Smith was sacked to bring up a third and five. Of course the next play was his 70-yard touchdown run, and the rest of the staff and I had a good laugh over the sudden turn of events.

This good laugh was mistaken for cheering, which is not allowed in the press box, so we were all reprimanded and warned we would be kicked out for any further carousal by one of the assistant sports information directors.

If you left Rice-Eccles at this point in the game, you get a five, but if you were kicked out you get a six.

With less than a minute gone by in the second quarter, Steve Savoy scored on the Las Vegas defenders whose effort on the play all but said, “OK, how do I get to the Crazy Goat from here.”

If you left after this play you get a six, but if you went to the Crazy Goat Saloon you get a six and a half.

Unfortunately for the spectators who made the trip to Rice-Eccles for this one, the game was well over by this point. UNLV clearly had no chance to win, even though they had a scrappy little back, who I hear performed marvelously against our second string.

I wouldn’t know, because at this point I was sitting in front of a television, watching game one of the World Series. I could still hear Associate SID Mike Lageschulte calling the play-by-play, but that was only because they made me turn the volume down on the baseball game.

I did, however, see the Utes’ last touchdown of the half between innings, which made the halftime score 42-14. If Smith’s 70-yard rushing TD was the nail in the coffin, and Savoy’s was the dirt that was poured on top, then this touchdown was the inscription on the gravestone that all but read, “Here lies UNLV, a team that died too soon, a team that was never given a chance.”

If you left at halftime, then you were smart, resilient and most likely soaked to the bone. In short, an eight.

If you hung around for a few extra minutes, then you were treated to another insurance touchdown, scored by lumbering lineman Steve Fifita. This was the ultimate indication that the time to leave had come.

When a lineman gets an interception, you know the game is lopsided. When that lineman returns it for a touchdown, it’s an embarrassment.

By the way, where does this touchdown fit into the nail-in-the-coffin analogy? A tree planted on top of the grave? Dead flowers? Urination? I’m not even sure, but if you were still watching after this, you might be buried in the adjacent plot within the next few weeks from that killer case of pneumonia your mom warned you about. If you, however, are still alive, you get a nine.

It’s tough to penalize anyone for leaving after the third quarter ended, because it was raining really hard, and anyone playing the video game version of this game would have reset out of boredom. But I do have to reward the people that stayed until the end so staying through three quarters earns you a 9.5.

For all of you who stuck it out until the end, I wish you good health, better judgment in the future and better weather against Colorado State in two weeks. You’ve earned the 10; I hope it was worth it.

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