One of the greatest rivalries in the history of college football has to be the Holy War. It is an integral part in both Utah’s history and culture. It’s a game that divides families, friends and communities, and begs the question: Does your blood bleed red or blue?
I was born to two BYU alumni. As you’d expect, my parents loved their time at the Y. They raised my siblings and I with the hope that we would all one day be able to attend the same university and experience all the things they had. Some of those experiences included the glory days for BYU football, when Steve Young was quarterback. So BYU athletics were always important in my family growing up. I have fond memories of either listening to Greg Wrubell call games on the radio or watching the games at home with my dad. As a boy, my blood was blue and I was determined on attending the Y.
Admittedly, I couldn’t stand the University of Utah. I would cheer for BYU and anybody who was playing the U. I even found myself in heated arguments in grade and middle school with classmates who were Utah fans. Talking about how BYU was a lot better than they were ranked, the National Championship from 1984 and all the typical BYU fan responses. This went on for some time, as most of my childhood I was all about BYU and nobody was going to convince me otherwise.
In 2010, my older brother decided to attend the U, and things began to change. He took me to my first Utah football game, and it was unlike any BYU game I had ever attended. The energy at Rice-Eccles was palpable from beginning to end. The MUSS was alive and roaring. The entire crowd was on Cloud Nine, and there was absolutely no calming them down.
As time went on, I began to experience a change of heart. I realized that Utah wasn’t so bad, but I still kept any serious fandom at a distance. I was still set on being a Cougar. After I graduated high school I chose to attend BYU-Idaho. While I enjoyed the school, teachers and classes, something was missing. I quickly realized that it was the lack of student unity and school spirit. BYU-Idaho doesn’t have any athletic programs, and for someone like me who absolutely loves sports, that was difficult. There were no basketball or football games to look forward to on the weekends and nothing for the student body to come together and get excited for, and that took a lot of fun out my college experience.
After my freshman year, I took a semester off and moved home in preparation to get married. During this time, I was able to attend a few more Utah games thanks to a few friends who couldn’t use their tickets. During one of those games, I had the privilege of sitting in the North End Zone, and that’s when things really changed. The North End Zone is an experience in itself. Some of the most dedicated and die-hard fans were sitting all around, and the experience was electric. When the Utes took the field and the volume inside Rice-Eccles rose, I can remember getting chills. This was an experience I will never forget and it’s something I wanted to be a part of.
Following my sophomore year at BYU-Idaho, I decided it was time for a change. It was time to chase that feeling that had been growing inside me and transfer to the U, not only to complete my college education, but to be a part of something that I felt resonated with me and who I am. I saw the passion, the dedication and the intensity, and I knew that was where I belonged.
Since transferring to the U, I have had a phenomenal experience, both in the classroom and attending many of the athletic events. Even though it goes against everything from my upbringing, I can full admit that my blood runs red. I now cheer for Utah and anyone who plays BYU. Every time they play the Utah Fight Song, I get chills with a true sense of belonging. I am Cole Bagley and a Utah Man am I!