Cowboys learn lesson

Being that the U is an institution of higher education, it’s nice to know that something was learned from Utah’s 50-0 romp over Wyoming.

The pupil: Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn. The lesson: Word selection 101.

Although it’s usually never a good idea to guarantee victory, it is particularly foolish when your opponent is playing at home, riding a five-game winning streak, coming off a bye week and playing about as well as anyone in the Mountain West Conference. To put it in terms that folks from Wyoming can understand, it apparently makes the opponent madder than a bull that has just had its testicles tied together and singed with a branding iron.

Although it’s fine that Glenn wanted to find a way to motivate his team, he did more to motivate the Utes by guaranteeing his team’s victory.

Others have asked, “What was Glenn supposed to do, tell his players he hoped they might win?”

No. He could have said anything along the lines of, “We’re going to go out there and play like the Cowboy football team we know we can be, and we’re going to give Utah all they can handle.”

Glenn could have said anything but a promise of absolute certainty — one the U football team viewed as completely disrespectful.

“Anything that you can do to gain an advantage motivation-wise, you’ve got to do it,” U quarterback Brian Johnson said. “Coach Whit did a great job of using that, and we went with it and played a great game.”

Every chance head coach Kyle Whittingham got, he tried to make Wyoming eat its coach’s words. The Utes were usually successful.

Some say Whittingham went too far with the Utes up 43-0 midway through the third quarter when he had his team try an onside kick that would have been successful had it gone about a foot further. I pose a similar question to the one that was used to support Glenn’s prediction of Saturday’s outcome.

What was Whittingham to do, call the dogs off with over 15 minutes of football remaining and take it easy on a Wyoming team that would have been doing the exact same thing if Whittingham had made a similar stupid choice in words?

I’m not saying it was the most karma-building idea to kick an onside kick, but I understand Whittingham’s philosophy of allowing his team to play three quarters of football the way they planned to all week in practice.

It was about the point of the onside kick that the chants of “Guar-an-teeeeee” started echoing throughout Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was also the time when a certain Salt Lake sports columnist — who is currently in his ninth year of a decade-long mid-life crisis — and a local radio host that is supposedly “Locke”d on sports started grumbling about Utah running up the score.

Why should the Utes — or any team for that matter — have to take it easy against a quality conference opponent just because it forgot to bring its “A” game but didn’t forget to bring its big mouth? The answer is, they shouldn’t.

Utah had every right to continue building momentum for the rest of their season and to continue getting rewarded for practicing their butts off to prepare for a team that was a legitimate threat to end their five-game winning streak.

Some people in the media (like the aforementioned clown) will take the opportunity to talk about the poor sportsmanship Whittingham and the Utes exhibited on Saturday. Those will likely be the same people who grumble when the Utes forget to bring the back part of their play book, when Whittingham doesn’t go for the knockout punch early, or when he wears white after Labor Day.

What they won’t talk about how much class Whittingham showed for not making last week a game of words and how he demanded his players do the same.

Whittingham did, however, allow his team to make their statement on the field, and to his credit, he allowed them every opportunity to do so — at least until the fourth quarter.

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