BYU-Utah is perhaps one of the longest and most heated rivalries in college sports, but the basketball rivalry is of particular importance. To say these two programs don’t get along would be an understatement.
Sometimes those emotions boil over, and they did just that this season as BYU guard Nick Emery was ejected for throwing a punch at Utah’s Brandon Taylor late in their matchup just this past month. Utah won the game 83-75, but it was the punch that was all the talk.
Things were bound to get nasty at times, given the nature of the two schools, the fan bases and the players as of late. However, that punch appears to be the final straw for the Utes, as head coach Larry Krystkowiak has put an end to the series…at least temporarily for now.
In a statement released by the school, Krystowiak made his reasoning clear for canceling a series that has only ever been cancelled by WWII since its inception in 1909.
“The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask (athletic director) Dr. Hill several weeks ago if we could take a cooling off period and put the rivalry on hold. The level of emotions has escalated to the point where there is the potential for serious injury. Chris said he would support me in canceling next year’s scheduled game against BYU. I called and let Coach (Dave) Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2).”
Even the decision to cancel the next meeting between the two hasn’t brought the schools or coaches on the same page.
BYU’s Rose decided to release a statement disagreeing with the choice of Utah in this case.
“I disagree with the decision,” he said in a statement. “I know our students, our players, our fans and college basketball fans in the intermountain area want to see this long-standing rivalry continue.”
As it stands, the two teams are embattled on the court, with BYU leading the series 129-128 even with Utah’s most recent three-game winning streak.
It isn’t the first time Utah did something controversial in the long-standing rivalry between the two programs. This past season the Beehive Boot (the rivalry trophy given to winner of the annual football games between BYU, Utah and Utah STate) was not supposed to be contested, and it wasn’t during the regular season.
That’s because Utah decided not to schedule the Cougars like it always had for football. It will be back in 2016, but fate would have the two rivals meet this season anyway.
BYU would take on Utah in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Utah won 35-28 and the series now stands 58-34-4 in favor of the Utes.
Given all of that, should it be surprising things are a little cantankerous between these two schools? Hell, these two schools can’t even agree on the date of the first football game between them.
Perhaps a cooling off period to figure that out, let alone how to get these two back together on the football field and basketball court are indeed in order.