Utah's Viliseni Fauonuku calls BYU team dirty at welcome reception

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Although both BYU and Utah coaches vowed to avoid controversy, it reared its head at a Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl welcome reception Wednesday night.

During a dance-off event, Utah defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku took the microphone and addressed BYU's team.

"BYU, y'all are a good team," he said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "But you're a dirty team. Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'."

BYU, the Mormon school whose athletes often go on religious missions after graduation, has come under fire recently.

Basketball guard Nick Emery was suspended for a game for punching Utah's Brandon Taylor earlier this month. That came after BYU linebacker Harvey Langi was caught on film punching a Utah State player, BYU offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho punched a Boise State player in the groin and BYU defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi rolled the leg of a Nebraska player.

Earlier Wednesday, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had tried to soothe any ill will between the programs.

"We've had that conversation, to make sure there's no issues or anything going on that is unnecessary," he said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Our guys are pretty good about keeping their poise and keeping their cool, so we don't expect anything different this game."

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall echoed those sentiments.

"I just want our team to have class and be respectful and enjoy a college football environment, and I hope that's what happens," he said, according to the newspaper. "And there will be plenty of others that are trying to charge it and trying to antagonize and do things that then will lead to a story, and I hope that doesn't happen."

Fauonuku has had to rehabilitate his own image. As a 16-year-old, he was charged with felony aggravated robbery after police said he held two people at gunpoint while his cousin took their wallets. He was ultimately sentenced as a juvenile on a charge of robbery, received probation, and was still able to attend Utah.