Hey guys, so I’m an Ohio State fan, but have a bit of a soft spot for BYU, as one of my best friends growing up was a huge BYU fan, and he ended up going there for school. I am on our fan board a ton (elevenwarriors.com, you guys should check it out!) but also lurk here and watch BYU games occasionally, especially because they rarely conflict with OSU games. Anyways, as an outsider who lives on the other side of the country I wanted to give a perspective about how people in my circle view BYU, Utah, the PAC-12 etc.
At Ohio State at least, it seems like people tend to cheer for BYU in games we have no dog in. A big part of this is our former president of the university was Gordon Gee, a BYU guy. He was absolutely beloved here. He would high five students on campus, always advocated for us, and was super into OSU sports and was not afraid to speak his mind on controversial topics in sports, like when he famously said that TCU didn’t deserve a BCS bowl because their schedule was against “The Little Sisters of the Poor.” Everyone here was heart broken when he left, and our new president, President Drake comes off as a stuffy academic in comparison.
Because of this, and you guys being seen as an underdog compared to P5 schools, we will typically cheer for you. Some college age kids may cheer against you because you’re Mormon and they are trying to be edgy, but I feel like in general you guys are well liked. We were all rooting for you to join the Big 12 for what it’s worth, and were shocked they couldn’t work that out. I would imagine BYU might be less liked at the more liberal universities (like that school in Ann Arbor) but that’s just speculation. There is absolutely a reputation for your football team playing dirty the last few years though. Not saying it’s fair necessarily, but that’s definitely something people unfortunately think.
We do however, also tend to like Utah out here. They beat Alabama, which will get you fans all over, and we see Urban’s tenure there as being a big part of what got them invited to the PAC-12 (sorry guys!) A lot of us actually wanted to play them in the Rose Bowl, thought it would be fun for Urban to play against a program he was such an important part of for his last game. Even though they are P5, a lot of us see Utah as a scrappy underdog. They are not a historic power, and seeing them compete with the traditional powers of the PAC-12 has been awesome. They also kinda seem like a Big Ten team stuck in the PAC-12: great defense, great special teams, very mediocre offense. It’s a team that would have made Jim Tressell proud.
Finally, I know them joining the PAC-12 was huge for them and especially for recruiting, but it should come as no surprise we don’t think a whole lot of the PAC-12 out here in general. In our minds, it is a big step down from the other 4 P5 conferences, almost being seen as a P5-lite, and the gap seems to be widening. The perception is that the PAC-12 is soft, and that they would get killed playing the schedules the other P5 conferences play. We do however love PAC-12 after dark. There’s something special about being able to be in a sports bar at 2am EST and still have live football on. And things always seem to get weird in those late games too. I know people on this board make fun of them for bragging about being in the PAC-12, and yeah you probably should. I have never in my entire life seen someone have a B1G bumper sticker, flag, or anything. That would be really weird. Unless you are for some reason just a fan of the conference instead of one team why would you do that? We cheer for our conference in bowl games (except for you Michigan) because it helps the conference’s perception and therefore our own, but no one is just a Big Ten fan. Having PAC-12 flags and whatever they do is just as cringey as seeing bad SEC teams chant S-E-C at games.
Finally, I know they are trying to downplay your rivalry, and maybe even get rid of it. I am of two minds of that. On the one hand, I think it is lame. Michigan has beaten us once in 15 years, and we almost rioted when it was merely suggested we don’t play them as the final game of the year. Anyone suggesting we end The Game wouldn’t make it out of Columbus alive. On the other hand, we do notoriously not play in state teams. We truly don’t have anything to gain by beating Cinncinnati, Ohio University, or Toledo, and if they somehow won, that would be disasterous for us. I would however argue that the gap between us and those teams is wayyyy bigger than the gap between you and Utah or even Utah and Utah State.
Anyways, I hope this was interesting. I always enjoy talking with fans of other teams. I’m sure there’s no love lost for Ohio State here, especially when Urban was our coach, but I think it would be awesome to schedule a series with you guys some day! There are lots of Mormons doing grad school in Columbus, so I think you would have a fair sized crowd here.