SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah football program has achieved great things in recent years — like beating Pittsburgh in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama in the 2008 Sugar Bowl — but this year could be bigger.
Why? Call it elite snobbery or a weak schedule, but in those undefeated years, the Utes didn’t get the national respect required to have a shot at number one in the country.
Entering the PAC-12 in 2011 changed that.
The question: Why should anyone who doesn’t care about football care about winning at this level?
Chad Berbert of the Cicero Group has studied the impact of winning teams identified with a community.
“A successful sporting program, either football or basketball, has been shown to increase applications to a school by 2 to 8 percent, “ Berbert said.
So a winning team draws students, allowing the university to be more selective.
A winning team also brings the state’s name and images of Salt Lake City and its environment onto a national stage.
“It's really exciting, and this type of exposure is really good, particularly given all the other good things happening in the economy,” Berbert said.