Being a Utah Utes fan has been fun the last few years. The Utes have been one of the more successful teams in college football over the past decade. Utah has gone from original BCS buster to PAC-12 Conference member in that time.
These are 25 reasons why it is great to be a Utah Utes fan:
Original BCS Busters: Utah became the first non-BCS team to participate in a BCS Bowl game when it played the Pittsburgh Panthers in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. The Utes showed they belonged with a 35-7 victory over Pitt.
Bowl Victories: Most seasons feature a happy ending with the Utes. Utah has played in 17 bowl games and has a 13-4 bowl record. The Utes have a .765 winning percentage in bowl games -- the highest among any FBS team that has appeared in at least 10 bowl games.
Kyle Whittingham: It's no secret that Whittingham is one of the best coaches in the game. He has been the head coach since 2005 and has a 65-25 record. Whittingham led the Utes to an undefeated season and their second BCS bowl game in 2008.
The MUSS: Short for the Mighty Utah Student Section, the MUSS gives the Utes an incredible home-field advantage. It is one of the loudest student sections anywhere.
Rice-Eccles Stadium: Situated near the picturesque Wasatch Mountains, there are few better places to watch a football game than Rice-Eccles Stadium. It seats 45,017 fans and Utah regularly sells out home games.
Pac-12: Being in the Conference of Champions means that Utah regularly hosts quality opponents each season. The 2012 home slate, for example, includes the USC Trojans, the California Golden Bears, the Arizona Wildcats and the Washington State Cougars.
Holy War: Utah is part of one of the nation's best rivalry games. The Utes battle the BYU Cougars in the annual Holy War rivalry. Utah has historically dominated the rivalry. It leads BYU 55-34-4 and has won seven of the last 10 games against the Cougars -- including a 54-10 blowout victory over BYU in most recent matchup in 2011.
Battle of the Brothers: Utah enjoys another longstanding rivalry with the Utah State Aggies. The Utes lead the Battle of the Brothers by a commanding margin, holding a 77-28-4 advantage over Utah State. Utah has beaten the Aggies 12 straight times and has won 20 of 22 overall going back to 1987.
BCS Success: Utah is 2-0 in BCS bowl games. The Utes were the first non-BCS team to win two BCS bowl games. In addition to pounding Pitt in 2005, they beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 31-17 in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
3rd Down Jump: Opponents hate third-down situations with the MUSS around. The students jump up and down whenever an opponent tries to convert a third down and make more noise the closer they are to the goal line. The MUSS keeps a running tally of false starts they create on third downs.
Flashing the U: A fun tradition has developed among both the students and athletes. Whenever an athlete makes a big play, he forms a U with his index fingers and thumbs and flashes the U sign to the crowd.
Block U: Utah lights up the big Block U on the mountains behind the school before night home games. When the Utes win, the Block U flashes in recognition of the victory.
Shovel Pass: Utah coach Jack Curtice introduced the shovel pass, or Utah pass, as a part of his Ute offense in the 1950s. The overhand forward pass is in the playbook for many modern spread offenses.
Running Backs: The Utes have a great running back tradition. Many Utah backs like Jamal Anderson and Mike Anderson have gone onto successful NFL careers. Utah's current lead back, John White IV, is one of the best in the PAC-12.
Secondary: Utah also has a recent tradition of churning out elite defensive backs. Players like Andre Dyson, Eric Weddle and Sean Smith have come out of the Ute secondary and enjoyed successful NFL careers.
Ron McBride: There is no way the Utes would be where they are today without McBride. He rescued a moribund program and made it competitive again in the 1990s. McBride recruited many of the players that Urban Meyer later coached to a BCS bowl game.
Ike Armstrong: As the first coach to put Utah football on the map, Armstrong later earned a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. He went 141-55-15 over 25 seasons in Salt Lake City. Armstrong led the Utes to 13 conference championships and five undefeated football seasons.
Urban Meyer: While its true Meyer only stayed two seasons, he took Utah to the next level when the program stagnated in McBride's final years. Meyer went 22-2 with the Utes and has the best career winning percentage of all coaches at Utah.
Utah Man: Meyer started a tradition of players singing the school fight song "Utah Man" to the student section at the end of every home game. It is fun to join in belting out Utah Man, especially after a big victory.
Crazy Lady: Before the start of the fourth quarter, the Pride of Utah Marching Band begins playing "The Blues Brothers" theme song and, on cue, Ute fan Terri Jacobsen jumps up in front of the band and does an energetic dance. She has been dancing at home games for more than a decade.
Tough Defense: Utah has had one of the nation's best defenses going back to the days where Whittingham was a defensive coordinator under McBride and Meyer.
Alex Smith: He was not Meyer's first choice as quarterback in 2003. But Smith took over for an injured Brett Elliott and the rest was history. He became the first Ute player to be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft after leading Utah to an undefeated season in 2004.
Brian Johnson: Many Utes fans have great memories of Johnson's senior season. His clutch play helped boost Utah to an undefeated season in 2008 and a second BCS bowl.
Ute Walk: Fans can gather at the corner of 500 South and Guardsman Way before each home game to cheer on the the Utes football team and coaches as they walk to the stadium. A drum call summons fans to gather for the Ute Walk about 2.5 hours before kickoff.
Rose Bowl: When Utah wins its first PAC-12 championship, the Utes will have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. Having a chance to play in oldest bowl in college football is rewarding.
(All statistical information is courtesy of the 2012 Utah Media Guide).
John Coon is a graduate of the University of Utah and has covered the Utes in many sports as a sports reporter based in Salt Lake City.