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Opinion: The long and winding road to the championship

Dec 3, 2022, 10:00 AM | Updated: Dec 27, 2022, 9:35 am
Cam Rising losing his helmet (Photo Credit, Wally Skalij, LA Times)
(Photo Credit, Wally Skalij, LA Times)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Who would have thunk it?

After the Utes lost to Oregon 20-17 on November 17th, only we eternal optimists still believed. It’s understandable. The detailed and unlikely things that had to happen, all but one beyond our control, made it a better bet that this would not be our year.

First, we had to beat Colorado. We had to “take care of business,” as Coach Whittingham said. Then, Washington, UCLA and Oregon State ALL had to win their games, the last of which seemed pretty darn unlikely. One loss of the three, and we were not going to Vegas.

When the stars aligned, we Ute fans were thrilled . . . and stunned. Now, we would have to play the game of our lives to win the PAC12 Championship against USC, ranked #4 in the country and the odds on favorite. All the experts, except one that I found, picked USC. ESPN, CBS Sports, USA Today – even the Bleacher Report picked the Trojans. “Caleb Williams is the Heisman frontrunner, and Lincoln Riley will have a date with destiny and the College Football Playoff if he wins. The Pac-12 needs this, and it’s going to happen,” said Brad Shepard. He predicted a USC 40, Utah 34 final score.

Not!

Last night in Allegiant Stadium, it looked like all the big mouths were right . . . at first. The Utes were down 17-3. But the road to the championship was a long and winding one. It went through “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” as ABC used to say. If we learned anything last night, when the Utes are down, they are not out.

I couldn’t help but think of all of the paths in life that are not as the crow flies. There are so few straight lines to success, happiness, meaning and purpose. How many of us knew exactly what we wanted to do for a living when we were teenagers and pursued that path directly for a 40 year career? Precious few, any more. I started off wanting to be a teacher when I was in college. Then I got diverted to law school, then radio, the law school again, then radio again, and now I am substitute teaching at age 58 and finding enormous fulfillment in the endeavor.

How many of us were lucky enough to marry our high school sweethearts and have those relationships last 50 years? Not as many of us as hoped. I felt like my life ended when my first real love, Shane, didn’t ask me to marry him. Neither did the next boyfriend, even after six years. Then I married a wonderful man, but it didn’t work out. (We’re still friends now, something I am enormously grateful for.) All of that to get me to my husband, Aaron, who is without doubt the love of my life. I didn’t find him until I was in my late 30’s, and we’ve had to travel some bumpy roads to hold on to each other.

But we never give up, not on each other, not on the children, not on life. This is how we make it to the championship, right? We are down but never out. We keep fighting for the things we hold dear. We believe in each other. Like Paul McCartney sang,

“The long and winding road

That leads to your door

Will never disappear

I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here

Lead me to your door.”

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Opinion: The long and winding road to the championship