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New book examines college football rivalries

By Dave McCann | Posted - Sep 20th, 2013 @ 10:37pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Jeff Benedict, one of America's top investigative reporters, will attend his second BYU-Utah football game tomorrow night. His first was last year when fans stormed the field (three times) and the crazy finish. At the time, he was researching for his new book "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football."

"Frankly, I was surprised. I didn't expect the tension or the amount that these programs don't like each other," Benedict said of last year's game. "I didn't realize there was such deep animosity between fans and teams."

Benedict and co-author Armen Keteyian describe the turn of events the night then Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham called BYU and accepted their offer to become the Cougars new head coach.

Whittingham later withdrew his acceptance and took the head job at Utah. The Cougars then hired Bronco Mendenhall. Both coaches, nine years later, have nearly identical records.

"The Coaches are a big part of the rivalry," Benedict said. "The fact that Bronco wasn't BYU's first choice, that he was kind of the stepson and ends up getting the job just adds to it. Clearly he has proven to be the right guy for the job and Coach Whit has done very well at Utah."

Benedict believes BYU has the most to lose tomorrow night.

"They have to win," he said. "They have lost three straight. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on BYU."

Benedict's book, "The System" tackles key issues facing college football, most notably how student athletes should be compensated for playing.

"I don't think you can read 'The System' and not come away thinking about how do we pay these guys fairly and how to take care of them when they leave the game and need medical treatment for the rest of their lives? That's got to be dealt with."


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