The funny thing about the comedy team of Ron McBride and LaVell Edwards is how it all started, with a Utah-BYU game that gave McBride all the reason he needed to hold a lifelong grudge.
The relationship between two former rivals should have fractured permanently, before it even came together.
Having come out of the 1977 game in the fourth quarter, BYU quarterback Marc Wilson went back onto the field in the interest of breaking an NCAA record for passing yards. He succeeded, via a touchdown pass that extended BYU's lead to 38-8.
That was McBride's first exposure to the rivalry as a Utah offensive line coach, and you'd better believe he remembered what happened in Provo. "You don't forget something like that," he said, many years later.
But he never blamed Edwards. Showing great insight, McBride attributed the insulting act to the late Doug Scovil, BYU's offensive coordinator. McBride could have criticized Edwards for not reining in his ambitious assistant, but in not doing so, he allowed for the development of a unique relationship.
These guys genuinely like each other, which explains why they're launching a weekly show on 1280 The Zone, beginning Aug. 24.
The team effort is Mac's idea. He says he handled "the negotiating, or whatever you want to call it," with a list of demands that included a critical point. The two of them would show up every Friday afternoon for 14 weeks during the football season, he promised "just as long as we don't have to prepare, you know what I mean?"
The programming content is not the point, as much as the ongoing partnership itself. Can you imagine Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall doing something like this, 10 or 15 years from now? They have no relationship, which actually is more understandable than the opposite situation, with Mac and LaVell.
The series of bank commercials they produced together in the mid-1990s was the first public evidence of their mutual appreciation, and they just kept doing stuff together while trying like crazy to beat the other guy in November.
They had some fun off the field, and competed just about evenly on the field. During his 29 years as BYU's head coach, Edwards went against Utah's Bill Meek, Tom Lovat, Wayne Howard, Chuck Stobart, Jim Fassel and McBride.
"I got along with pretty much all of them," Edwards said, "except maybe Wayne Howard."
That's because Howard, McBride's boss, responded angrily to that '77 incident. In any case, Edwards went 16-2 against those other coaches and only 6-5 against McBride.
No wonder Edwards said, "I like to tell people [McBride] is the reason for the rebirth of Utah football."
The only thing these two do better than make fun of each other is make fun of themselves. Obviously, deep down, there's great respect.
They're meant to be together. I hope their latest collaborative effort serves a purpose. It should remind everybody that the Utah-BYU rivalry is part of the fabric of this state, and needs to be preserved. And you don't have to like the other school, but you can sort of tolerate it most of the year, anyway.
Mac and LaVell have lived and loved the rivalry, while managing not to obsess about it. That's not normal. But it sure is admirable.