In the history of college football bowl games, we may have never seen or will see again a bowl matchup filled with as much animosity and hatred between two teams as we will see in this season’s Las Vegas Bowl between Holy War rivals Utah and BYU. There is most certainly no love lost between these two longtime rivals, so pitting them against each other in a bowl game was sure to be a big box of fireworks just waiting to explode. Utah defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku just lit the first match at a welcome reception for both teams.
“BYU, y’all are a good team, but you’re a dirty team,” Fauonuku said at the welcome event when handed a microphone by an emcee who likely regretted that decision immediately. “Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.”
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) December 17, 2015
As the emcee grabbed the microphone back, Fauonuku continued to say something in the direction of the BYU players in the crowd, but his final comments were not able to be heard clearly. Fauonuku didn’t exactly get off the airplane in battle fatigues and say Japan didn’t share a meal with the United States before bombing Pearl Harbor, as Miami’s Jerome Brown did in 1986 before walking out of a pregame meal with Penn State, but this was not that far off. Knowing the intensity of the rivalry, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said he discussed the importance of keeping cool with his players before getting to Las Vegas.
“We’ve had that conversation, to make sure there’s no issues, or anything going on that is unnecessary,” Whittingham said to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Our guys are pretty good about keeping their poise and keeping their cool, so we don’t expect anything different this game.”
BYU and Utah have quite the feisty history, of course. They don’t call it The Holy War for nothing. Back in 2009, after lifting his Cougars to victory over the Utes, BYU quarterback Max Hall left no doubt how much he disliked his opponent;
“I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything,” Hall said. “It felt really good to send those guys home.”
“I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless,” Hall said. “They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don’t respect them and they deserved to lose.”
This is certainly not the last time BYU was accused of playing dirty. BYU has battled criticisms about dirty play multiple times before, including this season against Nebraska and Boise State and last season against Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl.
On the bright side, at least the rivalry allows some YouTube folks to show off their music video skills…