BYU not sorry enough for Utah coach


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SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple apologies in the moment were not enough. Neither was a subsequent public admittance of wrongdoing and a formal sanction.

Larry Krystkowiak demanded more. And when nothing came his way, the Utah coach reached into his pocket and took drastic action.

Several discussion points arose during Krystkowiak's half hour session with the media to explain the Utah coach's decision to literally buy his way out of playing BYU next season. Chief among them is the future of the basketball rivalry, which has been played consecutively for more than one century except for one year during World War II. Citing the overheated nature of the series, Krystkowiak will personally pay the $80,000 buyout for not playing the game next season in Provo as the contract dictated.

Such a waste of money. Not that we didn't know college coaches can buy what they want.

So here we are, one man with enough influence to cancel a basketball series. In concert with athletic director Chris Hill, Krystkowiak labeled the rivalry "highly venomous" with a "toxic environment that fuels irrational behavior."

"I feel that this basketball rivalry has a virus in its operating system," Krystkowiak said, "and it's time to turn off the computer and reboot it at a later date."

The man with a whistle and a basketball sounds like the CEO of Dell or Hewlett-Packard. And as we know, the boss usually gets his way, especially when he's done an outstanding job of building a program.

Krystkowiak overreacted in stopping Utah's series. While the BYU team is hardly comprised of choir boys and deserves criticism, not enough evidence exists to claim Utah's safety would be in jeopardy.

In his press conference, Krystkowiak cited concern over the BYU game going back to the last four years, including the last two times the Utes played in the Marriott Center. The clincher occurred when BYU freshman Nick Emery lost his mind this year in the Huntsman Center and punched Utah senior Brandon Taylor, who immediately fell to the ground. Emery compounded the problem by standing over Taylor and taunting him.

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"When mistakes are made, maybe a punch is thrown, I don't know that things need to be said to the player that's laying on the ground afterward," Krystkowiak said. "I tried to put myself in that position and said, man, if I smacked a guy unprovoked I'm pretty sure I would probably put myself in timeout pretty quick."

According to the BYU staff, the coaches apologized profusely to Krystkowiak for the incident during the postgame handshake. Emery later issued a public apology and was suspended for the next game.

Not good enough, the Utah coach believes.

"Compounding the problem for me is what I consider to be a lack of remorse after the behavior, both in things said and left unsaid," said Krystkowiak, who was a self-described "hockey thug" during his 10 years in the NBA. "And I have no reason to believe this pattern of behavior will change on its own."

The problem is, BYU coaches didn't get it. They insist during the postgame handshake and apology that Krystkowiak indicated he understood things happen in the moment and not to worry about it.

A few days later, a century of tradition was history.

Understandably angry that Utah canceled the game in Provo, BYU coach Dave Rose believes the issue runs deeper than on-court incidents. In an interview with 1280-AM and 97.5-FM The Zone Sports Network he said former coach Jim Boylen told him Hill did not want the series to continue after the teams left the Mountain West to join separate conferences five years ago

Pressed on the matter after Krystkowiak's press conference, Hill avoided specifics, referring to the fact he fired Boylen after the 2010-11 season.

"Jim Boylen was a long time ago," he said. " I'm probably not his favorite friend. I really don't remember saying that."

Rose's conversation with Boylen on contracting to play Utah obviously occurred before Hill fired him, meaning the coach had no reason yet to dislike the athletic director. But in the end the only thing that matters is there is no rivalry game.​

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