This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Power is a funny thing. Somebody's always got it. Somebody's always got a little more of it.
When Chris Hill and Larry Krystkowiak halted the Utah-BYU basketball rivalry game on account of their publicly pronounced reasons, which were concocted, silly, and egocentric, they did so ... because that's what they wanted to do. They talked it over with Utah's president, David Pershing, and made their announcement. They didn't consult BYU, they didn't think 100 years of sports tradition was a good enough counter to change their minds or stop them, they chose to rationalize and back their decision with the dubious notion that Ute fans no longer are interested in or want that game played.
It was the ultimate trash talk to their historic rival, trash talk that resonated with a portion of Utah fans, the ones who disregard the past in the name of the future, all while knowing both can still be served: We don't need you, we don't want you, we have moved on to bigger and better things.
All while many neighbors, co-workers, family members on both sides of the red-and-blue divide desire for the game to go on, same as it ever was. The scheduling limitations that were trumped up and used to justify the interruption in the football rivalry game have no bearing on the basketball side, where dates and games are plentiful, and everybody knows that. Only a fool would believe otherwise.
Utah not playing BYU had little to do with cooling the rivalry down. And if it did, then let's be adults and get the thing fixed without the positioning and posturing though it would be useful if BYU cleaned up its act.
It was humorous to hear Krystkowiak speak in the name of sportsmanship, trying to protect his players and, he said, himself from the intensity of a game where emotions run high. He was a player who more than once got into skirmishes on the floor, and everybody survived that. If he was really worried that he might do something stupid in the heat of the moment, right there courtside, then he's got more anger problems than any mentor in his role should.
But that's what he said.
BYU coach Dave Rose said in the aftermath that former Utah coach Jim Boylen told him before Krystkowiak was ever on the scene that "his AD" no longer wanted to play the Utah-BYU game. When Hill was asked about that, he deflected the question.
Let's say it the way it is: Hill's and Krystkowiak's decision was a pure power move. They were going to do what they were going to do - no matter what anyone on the outside said - because they had the power to do so.
And that brings us back to where we started: power and how it is used.
At a public university, there are those believe it or not who are more powerful than the athletics director and the basketball coach, although sometimes the AD and coach probably forget that.
While using the power of the legislature to step into this kind of nonsense is objectionable here and likely to a lot of people, it is just one more use of power. The audit that body will now put upon Utah's athletics department, after the governor and other legislators objected to Hill's halting of the rivalry game, is almost laugh-out-loud comedy, given that none of this should have happened in the first place.
Hill abused his power. Now, the legislature is wasting important time with its power. Isn't there a better world those leaders should be building in our state, in ways that far outweigh college basketball? Of course there is. And, still, the rivalry is important to the residents and taxpayers of Utah. If not you, personally, then a lot of others.
Power versus power. Sweet.
If Hill doesn't deserve this, he certainly brought it on himself and his department, in part, because of his cavalier attitude toward stopping something that never should have been stopped.
It's not that complicated. And, yet, now it is.
Hill has been in his job for nearly 30 years. And, in some ways, he's done it extremely well, in others, not so much. Sometimes, his kind of longevity brings with it power's seducing effect. Decisions are made that shouldn't be made, and explanations given for those decisions straight don't ring true. And, next thing, the legislature is auditing the department, sticking its nose into things that shouldn't occupy its important time.
None of this needed to happen this way.
But power doesn't care about that. Power cares about power. Funny thing is, the dangerous thing is, somebody's always got more of it.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.