Utah, BYU schedules more intriguing than ever

Tom Smart, Deseret News

The Utah-BYU rivalry took yet another nasty turn this month when Utah announced it would not play BYU in 2014 and 2015, but would resume in 2016.

In other words, the rivalry as we know it is apparently over. But with the Pac-12/Big Ten alliance collapsing, that leaves more flexibility on Utah’s schedule – perhaps to continue scheduling BYU. I’m guessing it won’t happen every year, anyway. Utah wants to test itself against other national opponents. The thinking is that while the BYU-Utah game is a great local event, it isn’t all that interesting nationally. The Utes could do just as well, or better, by playing opponents like Michigan.

Meanwhile, independent BYU has done a nice job of bulking up its schedule. Season-ending games are always going to present a problem, but you can’t say the Cougars are dodging teams. Among BYU’s upcoming opponents:  Oregon State, Washington State, Boise State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Texas, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Utah has future games coming with Southern Cal, Oregon and  other Pac-12 teams, as well as Michigan. Rumblings are increasing that Utah is working on a series with Ohio State.

So while fans are bemoaning the end – or at least the changes in – the Utah-BYU rivalry, both teams have made their schedules more interesting since leaving the Mountain West. Sure, the Cougars are still playing San Jose State and Idaho at the end of the season, but they are also playing a lot of truly intriguing match-ups – the kind that wouldn’t have happened if the Cougars had stayed in the MWC. Utah? Imagine a home-and-home with Michigan if the Utes hadn’t joined the Pac-12.

The Utah-BYU game may soon lack the pizazz it once  had, but their schedules will still be a lot more interesting than the days when Air Force, Colorado State or San Diego State constituted  “big” match-ups.

For that, sports fans in Utah can be grateful.

In the small picture, the changes could end up watering down the BYU-Utah series, or even ending it. In the big picture, there are more marquee games than ever before.

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41 comments

  1. motorbike

    “Rumblings are increasing that Utah is working on a series with Ohio State”

    I’d be happy to miss another two years of the BYU/Utah rivalry if this game hits the schedule.

    I’m betting Urban will have Ohio State in the top 5 consistently – with his track record they’ll have a national championship within two seasons.

    • UtahMan

      Urban will get his national championship using the players and recruits from the previous coaching staff, then his recruits will start to arrive and his team will underachieve and he’ll leave for another school with a recent coaching controversy. It’s a proven recipe with him. Yep, I’m still a little bitter about him jumping ship here.

      • BYU_Aggie

        Finally! A Utah fan that is actually upset that Meyer up and left the program for “greener pastures” when he was doing a fantastic job at the U. Seriously, it drives me crazy when Utah fans worship this guy when he pulled a low blow by leaving when he did for a bigger name. If Gary Andersen left USU the first chance he got after turning Aggie football around, I’d hate his guts.

        It’s just nice to find actual Utah football fans.

      • Mike Johnson

        Urban’s first national championship followed that pattern, but not his second.

      • Utah Party

        Without Urban coming around Utah continues to toil in mediocrity and never busts the BCS or gets in the Pac 12. I have nothing but appreciation for Urban. While I would have loved to have him stay you can’t blame him for making the move from Mountain West to perennial national title contender. And if you don’t think Gary Andersen in going to bolt if he has continued success he is crazy.

  2. Harold Scoresby

    I like the beef-up in the schedules for both BYU and Utah. It would be a stretch at best to say that Utah’s schedule is better than BYU’s. They are both more on equal footing than they have ever been. In past years when they were partners in a conference, BYU’s schedule was always better than Utah’s. BYU had games against Miami, Georgia Tech, Temple, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Georgia, Washington, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State and many more. Now that Utah is in the Pac 12, they have to play a tougher schedule. Should be interesting from this point on how both schools do with a tougher week to week offering of games.

    • Garratt Beesley

      A tougher week to week offering? BYU plays patsies for half their schedule. It matters not if Utah is playing down programs in the PAC 12, because those programs still present much more of a physical test (better athletes) than BYU’s Big Sky opponents. Those are R&R games to prepare for others.

  3. Pac 12 Fan

    The biggest difference is still that one schedule helps get one team to a better bowl game at the end of the year. Schedule strong teams is great but it if it means nothing but an exciting afternoon, why go through with it?

    I don’t like BYU football (only) but I do want BYU in a conference so that games have meaning. Work their tails off to play in the San Francisco Bowl whether they win 6 or 11? I’m laughing but it isn’t so great.

  4. Jon

    Utah showed last year how it will fare int he PAC 12 – middle of the PAC. BYU showed a 10-3 season – not too bad.

    • Vegas Ute

      and yet Utah showed that the 8-5 team was actually a lot better than the 10-3 team… By the rather convincing score of 54-10.

      • CougFaninTX

        Utah was definately the better team on September 17, but I don’t think anyone questions who was the better team in November and December, once we found our QB and U lost yours. Certainly the pollsters recognize who was the better team at the end of the season.

      • Jason Whiting

        So, I’m a BYU fan, and a fan if Utah sports in general. Quite frankly I agree with “Vegas Utes.” 8-5 Utah was a better team than 10-3 BYU last year. I hope that independence works out well for BYU and both teams can end up strong. I don’t mind if there isn’t a rivalry game each year but having one occasionally to see how the two teams are stacking up and progressing.

    • Swoop

      CougFanin Tx I’m sorry but after losing 54 to 10 you have no room to talk when comparing the 2 schools from last year. Do you even realize how bad of a loss that is? Are you seriously going to argue that BYU was the better team at the end of the season? You guys had your chance against Utah last season and you blew it, and it wasn’t even close. You’ll get your chance at redemption this season, but stop making a fool out of yourself and your team.

      • Dave Stott

        I would only add to Swoop’s comment John McEnroe’s immortal words: “you can’t be serious.”

    • Garratt Beesley

      10-3 was not a good record for BYU last year. Outside of the 6 patsies, that 10-3 record was 4-3. And that 4-3 was only a winning record because of fortunate outcomes in BYU’s favor against USU and Central Florida. Those two aren’t world beaters, but should have beaten BYU in LES (opponent road game for two teams who outplayed BYU).

  5. Dan Snow

    Just read a fan discussion board for Stanford. They are saying that if the PAC 12 expands (re:super conferances) that Utah is pushing to get BYU an invite. Total rumor, but I’d love to see the two team playing each other if it meant something like a spot in the conferance championship game.

    • U 90

      Dan,

      I hope you’re right although right now it seems a bit of a stretch. A lot of people (including me) would like to see BYU in the same conference as the Utes… it would be great for the state of Utah.

      The PAC12 is short sighted for not jumping all over the opportunity to invite the cougars now. If there is a move to super-conferences, the PAC will have to heavy-up by 4 teams rather quickly. The SEC and ACC are already up to 14 teams. If Texas and Oklahoma aren’t coming to the PAC then Larry Scott needs to start courting the best possible programs available in the West/Midwest to fill out the final 4 spots.

  6. 10cc

    Both schools’ schedules have taken a substantial leap upward in difficulty. Utah is trying to reach the upper tier in the PAC on a consistent basis, while BYU is trying to reach a comfortable tier of independence, ala Notre Dame.

    For Utah, the challenge is in matching the recruiting efforts of Washington, UCLA and other mid-tier PAC teams, while moving up toward Stanford and maybe even Oregon & USC territory, or at least in the same conversation.

    For BYU, the challenge is to survive 2013 without being a 4 win team, and to broaden their recruiting base far outside the LDS footprint. 5 out of 6 of the casualties of BYU’s banner class of 2010 that have left were non-LDS. This is still a challenge for BYU, a ceiling they need to break through.

  7. Henry Drummond

    I have no trouble giving the “rivalry” game a break for a few years. Maybe when we play again it will be about football rather than all the foolishness that seems to surround the game today. Meanwhile having a fairly constant stream of top tier teams coming here every year isn’t bad either.

  8. JustTheTruthMan

    at that point the teams on the field were neither 8-5 nor 10-3……. They hadn’t even played 4 games yet. Both having lost once….. Both having won once too as luck would have it. So at best you can say that the 1-1 Utes were thanks to 8 turnovers 44 points better than the 1-1 Cougars. Play that game again in November and I bet it would have had a much closer outcome with far fewer turnovers….. and perfectly said? No it wasn’t! It was typical Ute spin that makes no sense at all.

    • AreYouSerious

      I don’t think that you know anything about football based off of your comment. Good teams don’t turn the ball over 8 times in a single game. You should have things figured out by the 3rd game of the season, if it takes you 11 to 12 games to do so then don’t expect to ever play a good team in the post season. BYU had their chance and lost badly at home in Provo even. Go ahead and look forward to this seasons game, but stop making excusses for a 54 to 10 loss. Please just think about that score 54 TO 10. WWWWWOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW, can you say blow out?

      • Duckhunter

        Well if a team should “have it figured out by the 3rd game” how come utah didn’t get it figured out in game #12? They didn’t have it figure out in 4 other games either, 3 of which were blow out losses. How come utah’s offense was ranked 109th in the ncaa after the season was over? It doesn’t sound like they ever “figured it out”.

    • Proud Ute

      So at best you can say that the 1-1 Utes were thanks to 8 turnovers 44 points better than the 1-1 Cougars.

      You’re saying the cougar offense was so totally inept the Ute defense had nothing to do with the turnovers?
      This “we gave you 8 turnovers” kind of blue skewed nonsense is right up with the assertion by the cougar trolls the Alabama team that played in the Sugar Bowl was “dis-interested”.
      Keep those blue goggles on tight my friend, hate to have you blinded by the bright light of reality.

  9. motorbike

    If Utah played BYU again at the end of last season, Utah would win by 64 points instead of 44 points.

    See how easy that is?

    Come on.

  10. DowntoBusiness

    The Utes have only sold out one game for the last several years, it is the rivalry game with BYU. I attended the Utah vs UCLA game in Rice Eccles Stadium, A big game for the Utes which they won. It was great to see Utah taking it to a storied program in the Pac-12 at home and put themselves in a position to win the south division. However, I find it amazing that the Utah Fans did not sell out this big game with the Pac-12 south Division up for grabs.

    If college football is all about the money???? and business??? Which is all we hear about these days. It would seem that the biggest money making game of the season for both Utah and BYU in terms of tickets sold, advertising dollars and broadcast revenue would be continued, if not for tradition, but just for the money and business reasons, not to mention the fact that Fans Really Care about this rivalry game a lot more than they care about a division race against a storied football program. Perhaps, that tells you more about the Ute Football fan base than anything.

    Chris Hill should be slow to give up the only sell-out game he has in a relatively small stadium by Pac-12 Standards. It is all about how many eyes are watching and how many people are passionate about your team and the games they play. The rivalry game keeps it passionate and should go on for all of those reasons. It is one of the oldest and most proven aspects of business, “The Customer is always Right” “Take care of the Customer and everything else takes care of itself”. Chris and Brad Rock, make sure you don’t flunk out on Business 101 in a sport that is driven by $$$$ and eyeballs. If you are not careful, You might negotiate yourself into irrelevance.

    • I Bleed Red

      Down to Business,

      It appears you’re a business 101 flunk, because you have no clue what you’re talking about. How about this, Mr. Business, try buying a ticket to a Utah home game before you go spouting off. Once you do this and you find out first-hand that you need to first make a donation to even get on the list, then you’ll know how supply and demand really works.

      One of these days you zoobs will realize that the Utes have been selling out several years in a row, with or without the zoobs. And, make no mistake, the biggest buzz in SLC revolves around the men of Troy. Next year it will be Oregon or Stanford, and then Michigan, and on and on.
      Yes, the U can (and will) live easily without BYU.

    • MonkeyMelt

      Where do you zoobs get your false information from? did you pray for it? please don’t spread bs like this.

    • Two for flinching

      Down to Business

      Utah has actually sold out every home game for the past several seasons. Also the listed attendance for the UCLA game last year was 45,035.

      Swing and a miss.

  11. Otis Spurlock

    Brad,

    I’m just glad you have started writing articles that are NOT about “Jimmermania”.

  12. Ute Lover

    If they “should have had it figured out by the 3rd game”, could you please explain to me what happened to us in the Colorado debacle at the end of last season??

  13. kasperCasey

    Utah is going to stop playing BYU because the coaching staff is all secretly BYU fans as half of them played for BYU. The prospect of playing their alma mater every year really rips their heart out.
    Go cougs!!!!

  14. AZUTE1

    Yeah, beating Idaho State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Hawaii and Tulsa to finish the season clearly showed superiority….You got us there alright….LOLLOL.

  15. AZUTE1

    No kidding….They finish the season beating the sisters of the poor and feel they were the better team….Both schools finished the season 5-1, w/UTAH beating all BCS schools, while byu beat all non-BCS schools, including the following national-powerhouses:

    Idaho State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Hawaii & Tulsa.

    SURREAL.

  16. Jim S

    I think there is one factor largely un-mentioned which renders the decision easy for Chris Hill- if he is choosing between BYU and other quality OOC opponents. TV money. While either Michigan or BYU have a large likelihood of selling out RES, I would think the TV money for the Michigan game would be much larger. Multiple markets, instead a shared one, and more national interest.

    • Duckhunter

      Nope, not one bit of difference in TV money between those games. utah gets what it gets based on its contract regardless of the opponent, same for Michigan. BYU on the otherhand gets more for some and less for others because that is how their contract is structured but that makes no difference to utah since TV revenue for them is only tied to them playing at home. Michigan gets all of the tv revenue for their home games and BYU gets all the tv revenue for theirs.

  17. BlueHusky

    BYU could easily lose 4 games this year. Utah probably loses 4 games this year. Luckily, Ute fans will have the 54-10 blowout to gloat about. A game where a fraud quarterback stunk up the joint and the wheels fell off. Then the Utes went on to lose 5 games. I don’t see any greatness in either team last year. Nor will they be great this year. I personally don’t care if they ever play each other again. I live in California and have never lived in Utah. But it seems to be a game the Utah fans want. Maybe BYU can pull off the game this year, among their load of tough road games. I hope so. But I still have Utah at Washington to enjoy. And I will enjoy it. Utah won’t.

  18. DowntoBusiness

    I Bleed Red and Two for Flinching,

    I was at the UCLA v Utah game and if all the tickets were sold in a small stadium, that is great, however, all the seats were far from filled. That, I saw with my own eyes, in shock, given the implications of the game and with The U in the hunt for the south division championship of the Pac-12. Empty seats would never happen at the “big house” which holds over 100,000 fans, even for a non-consequential game. We are talking about a game with league championship consequences and there are over 8,000 empty seats in the stadium of only 45,000 plus.

    You never see empty seats at a rivalry game at Rice Eccles nor at Lavell Edwards Stadium which holds about 65,000 fans, all the seats are filled with passionate fans screaming and yelling for both sides and all TV sets are on home theatre rooms filled with passionate fans across the country. Even when the Utes step up to a bigger Stadium, (which is long over due and should be done now with a bond based on the future revenue streams that are guaranteed by the Pac-12 and a sold-out small stadium) even a bigger Rice Eccles would be filled for a rivalry game. No empty seats – get it!

    You can argue all you want, but the facts are clear. The Ute fan base as a whole cares a lot more about the rivalry game than it does about big time football on a national basis. That may change in time, but deal with that fact. Give me facts that prove that Utah fans care more about playing UCLA, Oregon or Michigan, I will buy in.

    For me personally, as a big football fan who has spent most of my life out of Utah. I love seeing Michigan, Oregon and USC come to Rice Eccles and Notre Dame, Texas, and Boise State come to Provo on a regular basis. The Wasatch front is finally getting on the map for big time football. However, I do not represent the majority. The majority of paying fans in this state still would rather see a rivalry game than any of those others no matter how big and important nationally. It is a undisputed fact. That is a swing and a solid hit! Give me some facts!

  19. KasperCasey

    The rivalry has been played for close to a hundred years and its like you want it to disperse and be forgotten about immediately. It is going to take more than a year or two to do that. It seems like Utah would like that to happen because playing BYU every year makes their schedule too hard. We’ll what they do next i guess.

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