Utah Utes punter Tom Hackett has said interesting things in his career, but calling BYU bastards Friday night put his legacy at another level.
Leading up to the big game tomorrow at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, that school down south might have a problem with Hackett and his team now, tomorrow and probably until the end of time, because, yeah, that is what the Holy War rivalry tends to do to people.
You can deny those feelings or lie about its historical importance, but the bottom line is, it means the world to the people who play in the Holy War.
Or, maybe the whole thing about Hackett calling BYU such a derogatory term was just a misunderstanding. There can be cultural differences, you know. In the latest Aussie slang dictionary, calling someone a bastard is actually a term of endearment.
Hackett stepped to the podium Friday night, the night before the BYU-Utah rivalry gets going again at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. The first thing you thought was, uh-oh. The second thing you thought was, hm, this could get interesting.
With the bright lights and neon signs beckoning thousands of fans to join the festivities, Hackett spoke, his words piercing the desert sky like a beacon of darkness or light depending on which side you prefer, begging the legions of fans to join him at this party on Fremont Street in Sin City.
“I’m lucky enough to be one of the many players that actually has never lost to these bastards,” said Hackett. The place went nuts, as Utah fans roared with approval and BYU fans groaned.
But, if you thought the two-time Ray Guy Award winner and consensus All-America punter from Melbourne, Australia was done talking, well, you don’t know, mate. After all, Hackett could make a living if he wanted out of the quotes he’s made.
Whether Hackett called a football a slab of bacon, or said being on ESPN wasn’t a big deal, he’s been in the limelight.
When Hackett started a movement with the hashtag #kickersarepeopletoo, or lost his Subaru “Basil” for a few days and then had to have a Dumb and Dumber moment riding with an oversized O-lineman to football practice on a severely undersized scooter, or told the world he was fat after accepting his second Ray Guy Award, you can admit you were waiting breathlessly to hear what this guy had to say.
So naturally in the final moment when in his Utah Utes career he’d even get a chance to hold a microphone, you had to know he would go out in style, in a way that would not only endear himself to his legions of Utah Utes followers, but also cement his legacy in Ute folklore.
After all, he had to one-up his teammate Seni Faunouku who called BYU a “dirty” team just two days earlier at a dance-off on the same podium. What could Hackett do to top that?
Great question. The short answer was that Hackett’s closing remarks on the eve of the biggest game in his Utah career placed an exclamation point on his feelings toward his rival and on his Utah career.
As Hackett let the applause soak in from his first remarks, he cleared his throat and spoke again. “Which leads me to add and say that this is Utah’s world and BYU is living in it,” he said, raising the mic like a masterful emcee, sending the place again into a frenzy on the Utah side and shock from the BYU folks.
Considering Utah plays BYU in less than 24 hours, Hackett may want to watch his back and front–and family jewels–on every punt if he knows what’s good for him.
Even so, Hackett could only go out on his terms, much as he has always done on and off the field, defying the odds as a foreign punter who’s played this crazy game in America so masterfully.