Utes offer lessons in life

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

I’ve learned more from the Utah football team this season than I’ve learned in any class during six years of college. No offense, professors.

You taught me about photosynthesis and tried to convey the meaning of The Great Gatsby — which is…um, something about a green light, I think — but you simply can’t compete with the Utah football team.

The lessons just keep rolling in!

I become wiser each time the Utes teeter over the edge only to return to solid ground.

With each injury, each shockingly unthinkable upset and each cocky overlooking of an opponent, I’ve been instilled with valuable life lessons. In October, I am more mature, more battle-hardened and more enlightened than I was in August.

For that, Utah football team, I have you to thank.

At least, that’s the stance I’m going with at the moment.

This week, I learned that the season is long and that if the Utes keep chipping away at their schedule, they still might rack up enough victories to land a spot in the Purina Cat Chow Bowl.

Last week I learned that hope springs eternal and that potential can be a double-edged sword.

The win against Louisville was bittersweet. Sure, it’s nice to beat a Big East team on ESPN, but what really matters — a conference championship — is already out of reach. Seeing the Utes defeat UCLA and Louisville provided indisputable evidence that Utah is a dangerous team with potential.

Potential itself is, of course, a conflicting concept. Unrealized potential is one of life’s tragedies.

“I coulda been a contender,” Jake LaMotta laments in the classic movie “Raging Bull.”

Well, LaMotta, Utah feels your pain. The Utes could’ve been a contender too — for the Mountain West Conference title.

While it was thrilling to see the Utes beat UCLA and Louisville, the joy was accompanied by regret.

Why? Because the Utes proved they are capable!

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned that what goes around, comes around.

A cocky UCLA strutted into Rice-Eccles Stadium in September. The Bruins didn’t think they’d even need to try. After all, it was only Utah. The result, of course, was a humiliating, face-reddening blowout of epic proportions.

The following week, riding a wave of arrogance, the Utes swaggered into Las Vegas with the same attitude. After all, it was only UNLV.

Now whose face was red?

The lesson? Don’t get too big for your britches.

The most lasting lesson, though, has been that it’s not over until the fat lady sings, or — more appropriately for the Utes — until the Crazy Lady dances.

There have been a couple times during this season when all hope seemed to be lost, when the all-knowing media and even some die-hard fans said, “Put a fork in the Utes, they’re done.”

Like when half the team was sidelined with an elaborate cocktail of serious and not-so-serious injuries. Or when the Utes were stuffed one yard short of a potentially (there’s that word again) game-tying touchdown against Air Force. Or, when the Utes were destroyed by lowly UNLV.

Even after the gut-wrenching defeats, the Utes rose from the ashes, only to be thrown once again into the fire. In the past three weeks, the Utes have risen as victors against Utah State, Louisville and San Diego State.

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” said Job, the most picked-on character in the Old Testament.

Knowing how this season is going, the recent blessing of a three-game winning streak should be followed by another terrible plague. Not necessarily locusts and body-covering boils (although neither would surprise me at this point), but instead lackluster efforts, injuries and lame play-calling.

The Utes will probably continue to alternate between bliss and despair, devastation and joy.

But this week, there’s hope again. If this season has taught me anything, it’s that I’d better enjoy it while it lasts.

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