The question was this: If someone had told you a year or two ago that the No. 1 picks in both the 2005 NFL and NBA drafts would come from Utah, what would you have said?

"I would have said, 'Where is Utah, again?' " responded Sam Smith, national NBA writer for the Chicago Tribune.

Said Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum, "I would say, first of all, that the idea would not even have entered my radar screen."

University of Utah quarterback Alex Smith was selected No. 1 Saturday in the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers — setting up the history-making possibility that the Utes may provide the top picks in two major sports: Ute center Andrew Bogut is expected to be No. 1 in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Chosen No. 2 Saturday in New York by the Miami Dolphins was Auburn running back Ronnie Brown, followed by Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards, by the Cleveland Browns. Promising USC receiver Mike Williams went No. 10 (to the Detroit Lions), while in the strangest event of the draft, California quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith's perceived rival for the 49er's No. 1 pick, fell all the way to No. 24 (to the Green Bay Packers).

Still, although Smith received a great deal of attention, the Utah athlete most often mentioned recently as a No. 1 pick has always been Bogut, who will be in New York for the June 28 NBA Draft.

Said McCallum, "If you had told me Utah would have the first picks in both drafts, I would have thought you were talking about the state of Utah — and that some 7-foot-2 Serbian was at BYU for basketball, then somehow it got another Jim McMahon-type quarterback."

Good guess, but it's the Utes we're talking about here (That's a fact, Jack!). The first hurdle was Saturday, when Smith was picked. Earlier this year, forecasters had Smith going as low as No. 10. But by draft day, he had more momentum than "Desperate Housewives."

"Utah has always had a solid reputation as a basketball school, not so much in football. That would be like saying Oregon State would do something like this," said Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune.

Which makes a person wonder: What are the odds of Utah becoming a place where top draft picks incubate?

"I would have given similar odds on Dennis Rodman being elected governor," added Smith — the Chicago Tribune writer, not the quarterback.

Speaking of the Chicago Tribune, isn't that the same paper that ran the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman"?

Sounds a lot like a headline that says, "Utah Supplies Top Picks in NFL, NBA Drafts!"

Although the basketball draft is still two months away, the chances of Bogut going No. 1 remain high. InsideHoops.com, CollegeHoopsnet.com, NBAdraftnet.com and About.com all think he will be the top pick. So do many coaches and mainstream media members. Though Bogut isn't the most athletic player, his understanding, maturity and other intangibles make him the best candidate.

Sound familiar?

The same is being said of Smith.

The entire matter seems slightly bizarre, especially to those accustomed to covering teams from larger conferences than the Mountain West. Smith is the first MWC player picked first by the NFL, and Bogut would be the first basketball player so selected.

The MWC doesn't provide No. 1 picks, it provides programming for ESPN at odd hours and on odd days.

The University of Utah is known for research, dance, medicine and scenery, not high-powered athletes. Occasionally it will pull off big-time stuff, like when Mark Strand was named poet laureate and the stadium hosted the Olympics. But top draft picks?

Whose draft, the Army's?

But what about all those big sports factories? Surely UCLA, Texas, Florida or Michigan would have completed the double-whammy by now.

Actually, only a handful of schools have even had two top-five picks in the same year. The closest school to a one-one draft sequence was Michigan, which supplied the No. 2 NFL pick in 1966 (Tom Mack) and the No. 1 NBA pick (Cazzie Russell).

In 1968 Tennessee provided the NFL's No. 2 pick (Bob Johnson) and the NBA's No. 4 pick (Tom Boerwinkle), as did North Carolina in 1981 (Lawrence Taylor and Al Wood). The 1978 Kentucky Wildcats delivered the No. 2 NFL pick (Art Still) and the No. 3 NBA pick (Rick Robey). Auburn in 1986 and 1988 furnished the No.1 NFL selections (Bo Jackson, Aundray Bruce) and No. 4 basketball choices (Chuck Person, Chris Morris). Illinois in 1990 and Texas in 1982 provided the No. 1 and 5 picks.

Suffice it to say that if the experts are right, and Bogut does go No. 1, the Utes will be in an exclusive club.

A club of one.

"Mind boggling," said Eggers.

In fact, downright Rodmanesque.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com