Elephant on the Mountain West couch: Utah's final season

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College football kicks off in just 37 days.

Tuesday morning is the beginning of the Mountain West football meetings. Monday was a day to arrive, kickback and get situated. Of course, the big story of the meetings is Utah jumping the Mountain West ship for the PAC-10 next season.

Coaches and players are excited to shift into football mode.

"Flying out here I was a little anxious about it and all the feelings of the football season flooded back." said BYU senior defensive back Andrew Rich. "Excited for this upcoming season."

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is excited for his final year in the MWC, "I think when we all convene down here and get these meetings going, that signifies the start of the season."

The Utes and Cougars got together on Monday evening to relax and go bowling.

Senior All-Mountain West center Zane Taylor enjoyed spending some time with his rivals, but is not nervous about the upcoming season, he's excited for it. "It's been cool meeting all of these dudes, I'm not really a nervous kind of guy. I'm excited to have some fun here (Las Vegas) then take care of business (college football season) afterward."

There's no doubt the big elephant on this Mountain West couch is Utah's last stand before stepping up to the BCS PAC-10.

"It's always in the back of your head and the back of your mind." said Utah DB Brandon Burton. "It's a reality now, it's a bigger stage, right now we're trying to concentrate on our task at hand."

Senior Outland Trophy candidate Matt Reynolds said BYU does not like seeing their rivals move on, "Obviously, we hate to lose a great team out of the conference."

Whittingham knows his Utes have a big task at hand, "We have a challenging schedule we gotta go to Iowa State, we gotta go to Notre Dame, we open with Pitt, there's a lot of challenges on the horizon. We're excited. Our entire focus is on the Mountain West. That's the task at hand, everything else is on the back burner"

Reynolds hopes that the PAC-10 move is the end of the rivalry game. " I would hate to see that (move) affect our rivalry. I would hate to see that diminish at all."

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Tom Kirkland


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