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How BYU and Utah both won by leaving the Mountain West Conference

BYU and Utah Head Coaches Kalani Sitake and Kyle Whittingham talk as they are joined by fellow coaches and fans for the annual Utah Kidney Foundation golf tournament at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy Monday, June 13, 2016.
BYU and Utah Head Coaches Kalani Sitake and Kyle Whittingham talk as they are joined by fellow coaches and fans for the annual Utah Kidney Foundation golf tournament at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy Monday, June 13, 2016.

What if the BYU Cougars and Utah Utes were both winners?

That's surely an unfathomable thought to many people who are diehard fans of one school or the other, but on Thursday, The Athletic's Chantel Jennings detailed how both institutions' football programs improved after leaving the Mountain West Conference.

For the Cougars, Jennings wrote, the move to independence allowed them to have a wider audience, while Utes' membership in the Pac-12 Conference carries with it greater opportunities to be nationally relevant on the field.

As Jennings pointed out, both schools at times since leaving the MWC have wanted what the other one got by departing that conference.

"For Utah and BYU, the choices they made, for the reasons they did, made sense," Jennings concluded. "Cougar fans from coast to coast can watch their team play, and Salt Lake City is now a Utes town. But eight years after they left the Mountain West, both rivals still find themselves occasionally looking out at their neighbor’s yard, wishing they could have just a little bit of what the other one has."