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Utah should fight for BYU's rights

The aim of justice is to give everyone his due.

— Cicero

SALT LAKE CITY — That's a nice thought. But the people at the BCS aren't philosophers, and they aren't all that interested in justice, so let's cut to the chase: Even as the University of Utah leaves the conference of its longtime rival, it is poised to become BYU's best friend.

Hard to imagine, I know. But now that Utah will be in the Pac-10 and BYU the Mountain West Conference, this is the best time ever to double-team the BCS system — one school working from the inside, the other from the outside.

Just because the Utes will be in an automatic qualifying (AQ) conference, there's no valid reason to give up the fight. If it was an unfair system four days ago, it still is. Now is the time for the Utes to put their (BCS) money where their mouth is.

The reason I bring this up is the previous champion for small conference rights was Urban Meyer. You might remember him from the days when he took the U.'s football program from decent to dominant. His 2004 team went undefeated, yet ended up playing Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. And no, it wasn't for a national title; the Utes never got the chance to try.

Back then, Meyer was adamant the BCS system was unfair. But he ended up taking the Florida job and experiencing what the motivational speakers call a paradigm shift. At first, he continued to say a playoff was a good idea, but that has given way to tap dancing.

In a 2004 New York Times article, Meyer said of the BCS: "You've got to blow it up."

By November 2008, he was in backtrack mode. Asked if Utah deserved to jump over bigger AQ teams if it finished undefeated, he told the Orlando Sentinel: "Oh boy. It's like they say, plead the Fifth. I'd get blown completely out of the water if I answer that one truthfully, so I'm not going to. And that's not one way or the other."

He also said, "I don't know if (a playoff) is the right thing to do, but some people will make that decision down the road."

In other words, he ain't sayin' nothin'.

Meyer was again asked about the BCS system in 2009 and he said he didn't think Utah "can survive the grind of the SEC" but went on to say he would "listen to" Sen. Orrin Hatch and coach Kyle Whittingham because "to tell them he isn't a BCS coach and they aren't BCS players, it's not true."

He didn't say he supported a playoff. Only that he'd listen.

Utah Director of Athletics Chris Hill was vague, too, this week when asked if he was still a playoff advocate.

"Interesting question, because I like to think my values haven't changed just because of today," he said after the ceremony that admitted the Utes to the Pac-10. "You know, an important thing for me — and I'd like to be asked that question when I'm in the league, because I've never been on the inside thinking what's in their heads. So to be fair ... is to ask the question after I've sat at the table a little bit."

He continued: "I think the Mountain West has great opportunities and should have the opportunity to play at the highest level. I don't see why not."

Which still didn't entirely answer the question about a playoff for the national championship.

So Utah is now in position to help its fierce rival, and should. Asked whether his feelings had changed about the BCS system, Whittingham quickly replied, "Not at all. I'm a proponent of the playoffs, always have been, and I believe that it still can be structured within the BCS structure that's in place now, and find a way to hammer it out."

Good for him. Whittingham has BYU's back.

The Cougars can thank him if and when a playoff happens.

e-mail: rock@desnews.com