Once A Year Whether They Need To Or Not…

…Oootahns talk collidge fuhbawl. And wear collidge fuhball t-shirts.

This weekend is the Utah/BYU game, so “everybody wear their t-shirts” day at the office. They call it “Rivalry Day”. A case could be made that, if it’s only one day, then it’s not a rivalry – it’s an excuse to wear a t-shirt.

So my boss lady, who spent some time in the Loveliest Village on the Plains in her youth, decided (as part of “rivalry day’) to show up this morning wearing this travesty:


I have to admit – I was flattered. She actually bought the shirt for this occasion, because I am here – I don’t know that she actually supports the Auburn Tigers/Plainsmen/Wargles .

And she tells me that she’ll be wearing the shirt again on November 29th (if you don’t understand why, then…never mind. Go back to reading Wired or whatever you were doing : )

I wear a Bama polo or t-shirt three or four days out of five. Today I also have on Bama socks and Bama boxers – and I always wear my pink Roll Tide wrist band (it’s pink because I always wear it – like, for years now. It wasn’t pink when I put it on : )

So I don’t get the local college football “fandom”. To think of showing up one day a year in a Bama shirt – in an office full of Aubies – is unthinkable. I wear Bama gear when I’m running (I’ve got a couple of pairs of crimson running shorts w/white and black houndstooth sidesplits, for instance) or skiing or golfing. My golf bag is houndstooth, for Pete’s sake. 

However, I will say this – this local deal has a bit more tooth to their rivalry than we do. Sure, Auburn is the cow college, the Barn, they are our “little brothers” with a chip on their shoulder, blah, blah, blah – but the truth is that Alabama and Auburn have much, much more in common than Utah and BYU.

And it shows. Where we have the “Iron Bowl”, they have the “Holy War”.

Utah is the secular school – it is the local “the” university (as in “The University of Utah”) and a great institution of higher learning – but it is as secular as all-git-out, and as such, it’s….diverse. One of the things that living all over this great country of ours has taught me is this – if you want to find the weirdness in a state, go to the town with the “The” university in it.

The only real Texans in Austin are the ones who were elected around the state and sent there; the locals wear Birkenstocks and patchouli. Colorado has more gun racks than peace signs on the trucks, but go to Boulder and you’ll see nothing but Subarus with Bumper Stickers from Hell. Tucson is still Arizona, but get down near the U of A, and things get diverse in a hurry.

(This might not be quite as apparent in Tuscaloosa as in other cities, possibly because football madness might crowd out a bit of the weirdness. But Tuscaloosa is the town that my big brother went off to in the late 60s, and came home a commie. With a Republican National Convention delegate for a grandfather, who voted to nominate Goldwater. The weirdness flows there as well – it’s just a bit more camouflaged).

And the same is true in Utah, but Utah might be a bit more polarized than many states – it is without a doubt the reddest state in the union in terms of election results (let us pause here to curse the journalism majors who decided to taint conservatism by calling them “red” states!) but also has had a large influx of Californians immigrating for some time now. So it’s a bit polarized.

And serving as lightening rods for the polarization (if I might mix my metaphors) are the two major universities. Forget “parochial” and “secular” – it’s more “sacred vs profane”, and seemingly by intention. BYU has a code of conduct that I couldn’t live up to (although I would like to) while Utah…doesn’t.

Piercings and tattoos and weird hair versus Jesus Jammies and clean-cut pimple-free faces.

Utah even has a big red bus on campus that says “BYU S*CKS” – and I’m the one who stuck the asterisk in there; they don’t mind the profanity one bit. They seem quite happy to flaunt such stuff.

I don’t really need to say which way my sympathies lean here – anybody who knows me knows my tastes. And they are just tastes.

But I figured I’d give this bit of background; there might be more honest distaste in their “Holy War” than we have in our – much more hotly contested, and much more drawn-out – little rivalry down South.

1 comment
  1. Chris said:

    Your note about the “The” university towns: noted and agreed.

    I’m glad CSU acquitted themselves well in Tuscaloosa.

    One fall not too long ago I had a job with security at the CSU
    stadium for home games. I wore a yellow jacket and usually
    stood on the field looking up at the students in the stands.

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