U, BYU duel for honor and trophy

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The rivalry between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University has been around for as long as anyone can remember, but a year ago, a new dimension was added to the century-old battle between the two schools.

The Deseret First Duel, sponsored by Deseret First Credit Union, is a series designed to bring more positive light and recognition to the rivalry. It began in October 2007 with a volleyball match.

The duel gives smaller sports8212;beyond always-prominent football and basketball8212;the opportunity for recognition.

“It was an opportunity to shed more positive light on the rivalry and get more attention for all the sports,” said Utah athletics director Chris Hill.

The series awards point values to 12 different sports in which the two schools face off annually. Beginning in fall with volleyball and soccer, points are accumulated until the end of the spring baseball and softball seasons.

Each individual sport’s winner gets a Deseret First Duel trophy. A larger, granite trophy will be transferred from school to school as the winner of the duel changes.

“It is something that will provide more visibility of different sports for the fans,” Hill said. “It’s so the fans can have more recognition of what’s going on.”

In last year’s debut of the duel, BYU narrowly defeated the U with 34 points to the U’s 30, earning the right to take the traveling trophy to its campus for the year.

The narrow divide in points shows that the Cougars and the Utes are pretty evenly matched, which begs the question, “Who would’ve won the Deseret First Duel in the past?”

In the five years previous to the establishment of the duel, the two schools were not as evenly matched as last season.

Had the duel been in place, Utah would’ve won four of the five years8212;all of them by a large margin.

In each of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons, Utah outscored BYU 46 points to 18 and also won easily in the 2005 season with 39 points to BYU’s 25. In 2006 the roles were reversed with BYU winning the contest 38.5 to 25.5.

Football seemed to be the determining factor in who would’ve won the trophy. In each of the five years before the duel began and in the first year of the competition, the school that won the “Holy War” also walked away with the most points at the end of the season.

Both schools would’ve liked to start a rivalry series much sooner than actually happened, but were unable to find a sponsor for the series.

“We had talked and talked about it but it wasn’t until our marketing arm got with BYU and found a sponsor that it all happened,” Hill said.

Although any long-term impacts of the duel and any possible changes to the scoring system have yet to be seen, Hill said the results can only be positive.

“This is going to help continue growth and recognition of the rivalry on the national level,” he said.

This year’s duel is tied, as each school has six points. BYU won the soccer match, while the Utah volleyball team won both volleyball matches.

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