Utah has its running backs, BYU has its gun-slinger

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

Utah and BYU like to live differently. BYU loyalists keep their faces clean-shaven and their shirts white. Utah fans elect democratic mayors. Enough said.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Utah and BYU have adopted different styles of football over the years. BYU has featured wide-open, pass-heavy offenses ever since LaVell Edwards took command in 1972.

Utah has tallied victories mostly by running over opponents with dominant running backs and holding teams at bay with stout defenses.

So, one might ask, which has proven better? BYU’s group of outstanding fun-and-gun quarterbacks or Utah’s stable of smashmouth running backs?

The first and most glaring argument that jumps out is that BYU signal callers — mostly Ty Detmer — have their names all over the Division-1 record books. Easily the most prolific of the Cougar QBs, Detmer won the Heisman Trophy in 1990. He also won two Davey O’Brien Awards, given to the nation’s best quarterback. Steve Young and Jim McMahon each won the Davey O’Brien Award once.

Conversely, Utah backs don’t have so much as one Doak Walker Award among them. But in 2001 the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, did once find its way to Provo in Luke Staley’s case. Ouch.

How do the Utes compete with that?

Well, for one, Utah lays claim to Mike Anderson, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2000. None of BYU’s gunslingers accomplished that.

But didn’t Young win the NFL Most Valuable Player award twice? Yikes.

Utah running back Jamal Anderson played in Super Bowl XXXIII.

But McMahon won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears and Young led the San Francisco 49ers in the throttling of the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

Enough with stats and such — let’s look at what really separates the BYU playcallers from the Utah rushers.

Anderson invented the “Dirty Bird,” which ranks right up there with the “Icky Shuffle” as one of the best touchdown celebrations in football history. Anderson looked about as good as a grown man can while dancing and wearing a ridiculous amount of padding.

McMahon regrettably tried his hand (legs?) at dancing. The Super Bowl Shuffle — along with McMahon’s sunglasses — will go down in NFL infamy.

McMahon isn’t much of a rapper or singer either. Here’s an example of his lyrical prowess: “I’m the punky QB, known as McMahon. When I hit the turf, I’ve got no plan. I just throw my body all over the field. I can’t dance, but I can throw the pill.”

That pretty much sums it up.

The jury is back from the restroom after relieving their stomachs from McMahon’s solo, and it has its verdict.

BYU wins in a nail-biter! Well, it’s not really that close. The QBs from Provo take this competition pretty handily.

As for this year’s competition between BYU’s Max Hall and Utah’s Darrell Mack: that will be decided Nov. 24.

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