Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Dismissing rivalry
is BYU’s payback

SO it still isn't a rivalry. Even after all the years, all the history, they still won't give Hawaii that. The Cougars refuse to acknowledge it. Even after last year. Especially after last year.

Even after this.

No, they wouldn't even let Hawaii have that satisfaction.

Yes, all week there was talk. Revenge. Payback. Even punting the ball into the stands if it came to that.

They would show Hawaii. This would be BYU's chance to wipe all of those bad memories away in one fell swoop.

That never happened. Instead Friday's contest was a gritty battle of mutual respect, a true, physical, rain-soaked football game. It was Hawaii-BYU again, and if anything it proved that UH belonged, that last year wasn't home-field advantage and luck. This score, this 35-32 classic, this game, didn't erase anything. That 72-point outburst, those long returns and emphatic in-your-faces, that glorious explosion in Aloha Stadium would still stand until the end of time.

But then Reno Mahe, the outstanding BYU receiver, said this: UH had won his respect Friday. But there is still no rivalry.

"No," he was quoted as saying. "That's only between us and Utah. Other than that, there's no other rivalry I can think of."

Ouch. How cruel, Reno Mahe. How cold, how agonizingly perfect. No, the score didn't show it, but BYU has its true revenge now. That hurt more than any overcelebration, any dance, any late touchdown, any highlight hit or 50-yard extra point. That one cut to the heart, to the bone.

Words of hard-won praise, followed by a cold, off-handed dismissal of what every Hawaii fan hungers for most.

No, they will not give UH the satisfaction. They would not let them have even that much. No, there is no rivalry here. No, this is just another game.

No, we can't even be bothered to hate you back.

He knows how to hurt you, that Reno Mahe.

This was BYU's answer to the Stutzmann punt.

And he probably even has a point. He's right. When Hawaii beats BYU, everything comes out. Everything, all of it. Joy, hatred, emotion, years. Years are pent up, the entire history of this series is with UH in every one of these outings. And when Hawaii finally gets a win over these Cougars in blue an entire state erupts.

That didn't happen Friday.

A win is a win, they said. Just a game, nothing special, they said. This isn't a rivalry, it never was.

Hawaii is still 0-for-Provo, and thusly, BYU is still superior.

And with this indifference they dismiss the fury that roared through last December's 72-point ode to joy.

That is the killer. Last year's UH breakthrough was so dominant, so complete, so humiliating, so emphatic you would have thought that UH had broken through. That they had ascended a level and become important enough for BYU to hate back. That they had turned this into a two-way rivalry for good.

But no. Nine months and no more. It's over. Even after 72-45, perhaps because of 72-45, BYU was not letting this go any further.

Maybe it wasn't as purposeful or deliberate a message as it seems. Mahe was only answering questions and he was only praising UH and none of us knows the context of how the postgame conversation got started.

But still, he said it, he would not relent. He would not give it to them. And the significance was clear.

He had the win, and now he had more than that. He took something back that had been lost in that December tsunami. He would not let Hawaii keep it for good.

"No, that's only between us and Utah," he said. "Other than that, there's no other rivalry I can think of."

He can't think of one. Even after all the years, all the great games, they still won't give Hawaii the satisfaction of being special.

A landmark victory, an entire history belittled by an off-hand comment.

Now that's hate.

BYU has gotten true payback, but in doing so it may have subconsciously proved Hawaii fans right after all.

Only a rival could care enough to be so cruel. Only a rival would twist the knife like this.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at

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