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BYU vs. Utah: South Jordan is rivalry’s hotbed

Reposted from The Salt Lake Tribune

South Jordan, in southwest Salt Lake County, is the epicenter of the rivalry between the Utah Utes and the BYU Cougars.

By KURT KRAGTHORPE | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Sep 12 2012 02:21 pm

Choosing his clothing for South Jordan????????s Fourth of July patriotic breakfast, City Councilman Mark Seethaler alternates each year between red and blue.

This summer, his selection of a red University of Utah shirt was greeted with derision from a Brigham Young University fan, who said, “That shirt offends me.”

Retelling the story, Seethaler said, “I laughed. He didn????????t.”

Welcome to the epicenter of the rivalry, the one town in Utah that appears evenly divided between the schools that will stage their traditional football meeting Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. That????????s judging by displays of loyalties, the players involved in a church football competition and an office that annually stages the state????????s most elaborate rivalry pranks.

“Walking down the hall Friday, I????????m sure I????????ll see 20 Utah shirts to 20 BYU shirts,” said Austin Weeks, sports editor of Bingham High School????????s newspaper, The Prospector.

Similar stories are told about neighborhoods and even households in South Jordan, a town of about 55,000 residents in the southwestern corner of Salt Lake County ??????? 19 miles from the Utah campus and 31 miles from BYU.

The loyalty split “really is ??????? half-half,” said former Bingham player Star Lotulelei, Utah????????s outstanding defensive lineman. He should know, originally having signed with BYU.

Numbers back up the anecdotal evidence. Nine ex-Bingham Miners will compete Saturday, five for BYU and four for Utah. In South Jordan????????s 84095 ZIP code, Utah lists 280 season-ticket accounts to BYU????????s 235 (each representing multiple seats).

South Jordan????????s divide makes it clear that the rivalry????????s boundaries are not easily defined. Point of the Mountain is not a true line of demarcation because the Utes have 15 season-ticket accounts in Orem. Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns BYU, is not always a defining characteristic, either. Otherwise, the Glenmoor 4th Ward could not conduct its annual flag football game during rivalry week, pitting Utah devotees vs. BYU fans.

They take the rivalry seriously in South Jordan, where the residents are “the nicest people,” Seethaler said, “but you wouldn????????t always appreciate that for the instant intolerance” of fans in opposing colors.

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