Utah’s Rose Bowl Bid May Have Saved The Football Program

Jul 15, 2022, 10:11 AM | Updated: Jul 22, 2022, 10:58 am
Utah Utes fans during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football has grown up quite a bit from its days in the WAC and Mountain West with a Rose Bowl berth this past year. That uplifting of the program could be what ultimately helps the Utes be in a good position with USC and UCLA off to the Big Ten and the Pac-12 in limbo.

Realignment has slowed down quite a bit in the days after that bombshell announcement of the Big Ten going West. A lot has to do with Notre Dame and if they want to join the Big Ten. Since then, the Pac-12 has opened up negotiations for its next media rights deal.

Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire joined Unrivaled and feels that with the Utes playing elite football over the past few years they are in a great spot if there is more shuffling.

“Utah certainly gets the better deal because of their affiliation with the Pac-12,” Zemek said. “With Utah, the good fortune for the Utes is that they have built their brand by going to the Rose Bowl, they are a College Football Playoff contender this year. Utah just in the nick of time elevated its football profile such that Fox and the Big Ten are you going to look at that and say, ‘yes, we want that under our umbrella.’

“Utah really differentiated itself from Washington State, Oregon State, and from the Arizona schools. I don’t think Utah will be left on an island in a really precarious position. I think you can bundle Utah with Oregon and Washington. …  over the past four years under Kyle Whittingham will really save the schools bacon in terms of getting into the right conference and revenue.”


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What About A Big Ten Move?

This is likely a long shot but a few national writers out there have mentioned the Utes to the Big Ten. Utah, for one, plays like a Big Ten school on the football field with a great defense that is complemented by a good ground game.

Plus, Utah is now a member of the AAU. That carries weight with Big Ten presidents and it is almost a requirement to hold that status to earn membership to that league.

A few sports writers who cover the sport nationally said it is not far-fetched that Utah could be in the conversation to join the Big Ten, which includes Andy Staples of The Athletic who said on his podcast that Utah plays like a Big Ten team.

“I think Utah is in a really weird spot right now,” Staples said. “They are the one that is hardly heard mentioned when you talk about where they go. Playing style [they fit in the Big Ten] and also they are an AAU member it’s a very school and they have been successful in multiple conferences. I don’t know if they move the meter enough to be someone that someone wants to steal.”

Winning is the best medicine in this current round of realignment. Markets matter which is why USC and UCLA joined the Big Ten which very well should get that league over a $1 billion per year media rights deal.

The Utes went to three big-time bowl games this century and also appeared in three of the past four Pac-12 title games and they won last year’s championship to advance to the Rose Bowl.

Outside of Utah not being a long-time member of a power conference, the football program has been doing things right and playing at a level that is worthy of remaining in one of the best conferences.

As of now, things have cooled off a bit in realignment talk but there are plenty of conversations going on about how Utah and the Pac-12 are going to position themselves going forward.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-7 p .m. on 1280 The Zone and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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Utah’s Rose Bowl Bid May Have Saved The Football Program