It was no secret that the Brigham Young Cougars would play in the Poinsettia Bowl this year. Once
became bowl eligible, it was no secret that bowl organizers were going to invite the hometown Aztecs to be BYU’s bowl opponent. San Diego State and its fans don’t make their feelings about BYU a secret: they don’t just hate BYU, they loathe the Cougars. San Diego State
This deep hatred was manifest when BYU announced its move to independence.
was possibly the most vocal Mountain West Conference school criticizing BYU for the move. San Diego State
The root of this loathing is less well known than the loathing itself, but I think I have figured out why.
BYU has become accustom to opposing fan bases hating them. There are many cultural aspects that make BYU an easy target for animosity. There are also many on the field reasons (cough, losing to BYU, cough). When it comes to losing to BYU,
It all started around 1978 when the Aztecs joined the Western Athletic Conference and started playing BYU annually. Before joining the
WAC, was a powerhouse in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). Between 1969 and 1975, the Aztecs won five PCAA titles. They won eight games or more every year but one during that span. They never had a losing record. In 1976 and 1977, San Diego State was 10-1 each year as an independent. San Diego State
BYU was the school that gave the Aztecs their only loss in 1976; an 8-0 shutout. You can be sure that that loss was fresh in
’s mind when they joined the BYU in the San Diego State WAC just two years later.
The Aztecs were used to being a big fish in a little pond. At the time, the
WAC was a bigger pond than the PCAA, but not by much. didn’t expect to struggle in their new home. San Diego State
That first year in the
WAC, finished 4-7. Included in those seven losses was a 21-3 defeat to eventual San Diego State WAC Champion BYU. The reward for winning the conference was a berth in the inaugural Holiday Bowl. The site for this new bowl was ’s home stadium. San Diego State
Year two in the
WAC (1979) went much better for . Going into the final week of the season, the Aztecs were 8-2 with just one loss in conference play. All they had to do was win their regular season finale at home, and they would be conference champs and represent the San Diego State WAC in the Holiday Bowl. The opponent was BYU.
The Cougars were 10-0, which made for a compelling enough match up that ABC broadcasted the game nationally. BYU embarrassed
on national television. BYU scored with ease. The Cougars' first three possessions totaled six plays, but BYU scored three touchdowns. It was 21-0, and the game was barely eight minutes old. The final score was 63-14. San Diego State
After that game,
football was never the same. They had their second losing season (4-8) in 1980. It became a good year if the Aztecs had a winning record. It was a really good year if they won eight games. San Diego State had won nine games in a single season six times in the nine years before they joined the San Diego State WAC. They wouldn’t win nine games again until 2010.
It may have happened before the 1979 fiasco, but definitely after that game,
must have made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to beat BYU. That became the number one objective in San Diego State football. The Aztecs were 0-3 against BYU in the last four years, and they had been outscored 92-17 in those games. If San Diego State was going to be the powerhouse it once was, then they absolutely must beat BYU. San Diego State
After falling to BYU 35-11 to start that forgettable 1980 season,
went after the mastermind behind the BYU offense: Doug Scovil. Scovil was hired to be the Aztecs’ head football coach in 1981. San Diego State
The results didn’t change.
1981: L, 27-7
1982: L, 58-8
1983: L, 47-12
1984: L, 34-3
1985: L, 28-0
The man who had pinned nearly 100 points on the Aztecs in two games could only muster 30 in five years while on the other sideline. To make matters worse, the 1982 and 1983 blowouts were administered by a BYU quarterback that Scovil had scorned in 1980 while he was still in Provo.
The ushering out of Scovil ushered in
’s most successful era against BYU. On San Diego State November 29, 1986, finally beat BYU, 10-3. Not only was it the Aztecs first win over BYU since the “glory days” (1970), the win officially ended BYU’s 10 year run as San Diego State WAC champs and gave San Diego State its first WAC Championship.
BYU would beat
the next year, 38-21, but, in that game, Aztec quarterback Todd Santos broke the NCAA record for most passing yards in a career. The game was in San Diego State Provo, and BYU did not stop the game to recognize Santos.
jumped out to a 45-17 third quarter lead only to see Ty Detmer bring BYU back to tie the game 52-52 in the final minute of the game. Earlier that season, Detmer had broken San Diego State Santos’ NCAA record for passing yards in a career. Against , Detmer broke three of San Diego State Santos’ other NCAA records. By tying, lost an opportunity to win the San Diego State WAC and go back to the Holiday Bowl.
Getting back to Faulk, he was just one of many NFL players who passed through the
system from 1978-2010 (the last year these two teams met). In total, 75 San Diego State Aztecs have been drafted by the NFL since the 1979 draft. Webster Slaughter, Dan McGwire, and Az-Zahir Hakim all played for San Diego State during the decades BYU dominated the Aztecs. McGwire was a quarterback drafted in the first round, but the Cougars still crushed San Diego State 62-34 his senior season. San Diego State
It’s not like
didn’t have talent. The Aztecs always have talented, NFL caliber players. When it comes to helping them beat BYU, all that pro talent has been nearly meaningless. San Diego State
Since 1976 when BYU and
started playing regularly, BYU holds a San Diego State 26-5-1 advantage. has never won two in a row. The Aztecs tried every trick in the book, but nothing has brought sustained success. San Diego State
BYU’s Holiday Bowl run of seven straight and 11 in 15 years compounds the negative feelings.
It was poetic justice that after San Diego State made such a stink about the Cougars leaving the MWC, a 1-4 BYU team that couldn’t beat its way out of a wet paper bag (at that point in the season) beat a 3-1 San Diego State team, 24-21, in a game that had a controversial call go in BYU’s favor. The 2010 season was
’s most successful season since 1977, but rather than enjoy the season they could not let go of that one play early in October. San Diego State
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