Should Utah play USU and BYU annually?

            Two years in a row, Utah and Utah State have played close games in the early season. Last year the Aggies took a 27-20 win, while this week the Utes came back to win 30-26.

            If Matt Wells remains as USU’s coach, and doesn’t take a bigger job, this series could be a fine one – which hasn’t necessarily been the case for the last three decades.

            Even so, it’s doubtful they’ll play every year.

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            The big hint was this week when Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said, “Ideally I’d like the first game of the year to be I-AA opponents.” He added, “If I had a choice, yeah, it would be I-AA.”

            Whittingham might be a bit outdated – I-AA is now FCS – but he got the gist. He wants to play Weber, Idaho State, Southern Utah or Eastern Washington on opening night.

            There are 12 regular season games a year. Nine are mandated by the Pac-12. If one is an FCS school, will the two remaining games always be against BYU and Utah State?

            Probably not.

            That would leave no room for games such as Utah vs. Michigan — which is set for next year. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have tempered a plan to have each of their teams annually play someone from the other conference. But they are still encouraging crossover on a regular basis.

            In that case, it would almost certainly mean playing USU and BYU every year isn’t going to happen.

            The Utes could play USU and BYU annually if they really wanted. Or at least if all three schools really wanted. It might take some give-and-take regarding home-and-home.

              Regardless,  Whittingham doesn’t seem to want 12 games that he could lose. With a two-year break in the rivalry with BYU following this season, Utah will then pick it up again in 2016-2018.

            Which leads me to believe that Utah will play Utah State some years, but not every year. The 12th-oldest rivalry in the country will continue — with some interruptions. There’s also the possibility that USU won’t want to play Utah and BYU in the same year, if the Mountain West schedule turns out to be extremely tough for the Aggies.

            The Utes could slate nine Pac-12 games, one each against BYU and USU and still get a Big Ten opponent. But that would mean an annual FCS opponent would have to go by the wayside.

            As an observer, that’s great with me.

            As a coach, I can see why Whittingham has reservations.

[poll id=”257″][poll id=”258″]



  1. carolinacoug

    I think that all FBS teams should either:

    1) Be prohibited from playing any FCS teams, or
    2) If they are allowed to play FCS teams, the games should be exhibition games and not count toward bowl eligibility or either team’s overall record.

    • Smart Aleck

      Playing an FCS team as an exhibition game is a good idea. It could be played during fall camp to create a real game atmosphere and provide fans with an opportunity to preview their team during what it traditionally a slow sports month. This would be an improvement over the multiple intra-squad scrimmages that are common during fall camp.

      Of course, the game would not count for statistical purposes or bowl eligibility. The only downside would be that the payout to the FCS school might not be enough for them to cover their expenses.

    • Steve Jarvis

      I agree. FCS games should no longer count towards bowl eligibility period. Allow them to be scheduled, but don’t count them for purposes of bowls and such. Its always been hard to tell if a league is any good when they play few comparable teams. The PAC12 for example didn’t look weak last year till they only won two bowl games last year.

    • Diana Uharriet

      I totally agree with Carolinacoug on both of his alternatives, however, I do see a real benefit in playing a FCS team as an exhibition game before the season begins with no claim for counting the game as a regular scheduled season game. It definitely should not count in the win/loss column for a bowl game.

      Such a game has value in showing the team and the coaches where they are in terms of execution. This should be a free game for the public to see.

      “If they are allowed to play FCS teams, the games should be exhibition games and not count toward bowl eligibility or either team’s overall record”.

    • Mark

      I’m in agreement in that. If they are D-1 program (or whatever they call them now that the BCS is ostensibly dead), they should play their own when it is an official game. An exhibition game against a lesser opponent would be interesting. They already do it in NCAA basketball – why not in football: tune-up/warm-up opportunity for one team, nice payday for the other.

    • Duckhunter

      That is how it was until just a couple of years ago, wins over FCS (1AA then) did not count toward bowl eligibility. The problem was not enough teams were being able to qualify for the nine hundred bowl games that exist so they dropped that rule. What they really need to do is scale back the number of bowl games, and I say that as a guy that loves to watch bowl games, but does the pac12’s 9 place team really deserve to play the big12 7th place team in some bowl game?

  2. BlueCoug

    There’s no legitimate reason why the Utes shouldn’t play BYU and Utah State annually. Claims of being “too good” or the games not meaning as much to the Utes ring hollow when you see the competitiveness of the actual games on the field and the buzz in the media for every in-state rivalry game.

  3. Duckhunter

    It depends. Obviously utah fears playing BYU every year, it cannot be argued otherwise, but there are good reasons for not playing either of them, and especially not every year.

    utah is going to struggle to have even .500 records year in and year out. Playing tough, emotional games outside of conference does not help them. If they want to be bowl eligible on occasion then they need to play more FCS teams. It is whimpy but it is logical. I can understand whittingham’s and hill’s fears of playing too many good teams. They want to actually keep their jobs. So dumb it down ute’s, play some eaiser teams so you can tell yourself how good you are.

    • U90

      You’re going to have a tough time convincing anyone other than another BYU fan that Utah is fearful of the Cougars considering the Utes have taken 8 of 11 and picked up Michigan the same year they dropped BYU. Call me crazy but I think Michigan is a stronger program than the Y.

      Other than that I don’t disagree with your premise, but trust me, the Utes are not fearful of BYU

      • Osgrath

        As a Couger fan, I don’t think it is fear at all. I see it as Utah wishing to keep its options open. As has been pointed out, if Utah plays both USU and BYU in the same year, they only get one elective game. Whether that elective is Weber State or Michigan hardly matters – it is simply over restrictive.

        I could really get behind alternating years between BYU and USU – Utah plays one of them in odd numbered years, the other in even numbered years. Now they have two elective games but are keeping two natural rivalries alive.

    • Uteology

      “They [Utah coaches] want to actually keep their jobs. So dumb it down ute’s, play some eaiser teams so you can tell yourself how good you are.”


      You mean like BYU in 2011 with a SOS of 97? I don’t think you got the news in Tulsa but Utah has joined the PAC-12.

      So if we wanted to play “easier teams” we would have went Independent, like we were prior to 1910 and New Mexico State and Idaho did in 2012.

      Or we could of done what BYU did, try to join the WAC.

      • Duckhunter

        Nice attempt to deflect but FAIL! I obviously said they are scared to take on nay more than they currently have and that absolutely has whittingham and hill worried about their jobs. You could see whittingham’s desperation on the sideline thursday night and it manifested itself in the onside kick call. It was a bold call but it was made in desperation as no one does that in the 3rd quarter of a game when they are within one score if they are not feeling desperation over their team and their job.

  4. COUteFan

    I totally disagree with both Bluecoug and duckhunter. If the PAC 12 continues to require 9 conference games per team, Utah should not schedule both USU and BYU every year. If they do, that only gives them one open game a year which makes no sense at all. Utah needs to have the option to schedule big name teams like Michigan, the option to schedule game to help recruiting (TX and CA) and the option to schedule a patsy if desired. Has nothing to do with fear of these teams. We don’t need to play outside the state to attract recruits not in Provo and Logan.

    • Portland_UTE

      I agree with COUteFan, the non-conference games need to be more about recruiting. Utah should try and play a game in Texas every year if possible. Utah lost Aaron Sharp because they don’t play in Texas.

    • Steve Jarvis

      What is in it for Utah to play USU or BYU? From Utah’s perspective the games are meaningful to rivalries and fans, but do not register any needs outside of the state. COUte brings up the most valid point of getting into Texas for recruiting. The Utes also need to be looking to SEC country. If Utah wants to ever attempt to be competitive in the PAC they must improve recruiting. Playing BYU or USU doesn’t do that. The Utes should buy out the Cougars remaining scheduled game.

    • Osgrath

      What would you think of the idea of alternating years between BYU and USU. The rivalry continues but Utah is not restricted to a single open game. (see previous comment)

      • Steve Jarvis

        Alternating the games might appease the Utah fans and allow some flexibility. However it is not in Utah’s best self-interest since a game versus Weber/BYU/USU/SUU does little for recruiting against the PAC12. They already attract enough local players to fill the roster. Those players still haven’t been able to beat the upper tier schools in the PAC12. So no, they should stop playing BYU and USU, at least for awhile.

        I don’t understand all the nuances of Utah’s recruiting strategies. They need games where the best recruits are and they need to be there every year. PAC12 affiliation gives them secondary access to California recruits (secondary because the in-state schools generally get first crack at them). They MUST get into Texas, Hawaii and Florida on a regular basis AND win enough games to remain viable options for the better players. They need to look at all the Texas schools and see which ones best fit their recruiting needs.

  5. Wookie

    Attention Chris B Haters:

    Please stop with your contentious remarks. I’ve have personally read comments from Chris B on the Faith section and he has shared several remarks regarding our Faith. I earnestly ask you to represent the Faith and treat him as Christ would have you do. In the end it is your decision how you carry yourself, but as for me, I will not disrespect Chris and I will represent my Faith and His Gospel.

    Go UTES!!

  6. Who am I sir?

    “So dumb it down ute’s, play some eaiser (sic) teams so you can tell yourself how good you are” Classic – coming from a BYU fan! Read posts where BYU fans are delighted to schedule Arizona, California, and USC a couple of games in the next 4 or 5(?) years. We play them every year along with conference foes Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, Oregon State, Washington State, and Colorado.

    To address the question. NO. Last nights game was a great game – so was last years game with the Aggies. This supports my position we should play USU every third year. BYU (with which we have had some classic games) every third year. And leave open the third year. This would allow the Utes to continue games with traditional foes, play 9 games against PAC-12 teams (let that sink in!) and give the opportunity to schedule other opponents from around the country (ie. Michigan, Fresno State, etc) AND schedule a game in Texas every year to enhance recruiting in an important area for the Utes.

  7. PapaSmurfUTE

    I think that we should play yBu every year, but not Utah St. I like the game, but the rivalry with yBu is much better. I hate that we are losing the game for 2 years. While that game does not mean as much as it once did, it is still a big game for fans on both sides. The Utah St game last night was great, and the fans were awesome like usual, but it did not have the same atmosphere as the yBu game does.

    • Osgrath

      I have to agree – as a Cougar fan – but if it’s not pragmatically feasible because of Utah’s need to have more open dates for scheduling, I would settle for every other year – home and home.

      There is no doubt that as nasty as the fans might get on either side, the Y/U game is always a level above just about every other game in the season.

  8. Just Wondering...

    The Utes are wise to schedule more FCS teams to help them become bowl eligible. However, it probably isn’t worth their time to worry about keeping slots open for attracting elite teams. Outside of the pac+u, where elite teams are now forced to play them and required to travel to RES, their history would not indicate that there is any interest from elite teams to voluntarily schedule the Utes. A lack of openings in the non-conference schedules really isn’t the issue.

    • UtesBy5

      Utah hasn’t had any trouble scheduling major conference teams, this won’t be an issue.

      Your jealously rings soundly in your post. Yes, Utah belongs to a major conference and your team is a non-BCS independent.

      If I were a byu fan I’d be more concerned with the weak schedule you have had as an independent up to this year. Without ESPN’s help with your schedule, you would still be facing two of three good teams at the beginning of the year followed with mostly weak programs (New Mexico St., Idaho, Idaho St., etc.) to fill out your schedule during conference play major programs. Notre Dame is the independent exception, they can schedule a strong team each weak because of their prestigious brand. Be grateful for your contract with ESPN and their desire to upgrade the byu competitors on their network.

      • Duckhunter

        Really? Outside of michigan who have they scheduled that fits that description? Please enlighten us because I went and looked at their next several years worth of schedules and other than michigan (pac12 does not count they have to schedule each other) there is not one team that matches the claim you tried to falsely make.

    • Uteology

      Actually 2 elite teams, Texas and Michigan, did voluntarily schedule a 1-and-1 series with Utah.

      Moreover, one elite conference, PAC-10, voluntarily picked Utah to join.

      Back on topic… No, unless other teams switch to a 9 game conference schedule or PAC-12 switches to a 8 game conference schedule.

    • Steve Jarvis

      The Utes have had some decent foes come into RES. The ones I can remember off the top of my head were Louisville, Pitt, most PAC10 teams and Navy. The Utes CAN get some good programs to give them return trips, just not as much as BYU does. Other than in-state games and Michigan I wouldn’t expect Utah to schedule any top flight teams to come in till they are at least a consistent bowl eligible team.

  9. unbiased121

    The Utes better be careful what they wish for. I’m not seeing anything in the past couple of years that suggest the Utes won’t be anything more than the Pac 12 whipping boy, fighting with Colorado and Arizona for the worst record in the league. These games against BYU and USU could be the only bright spots in some bad seasons.

    Also, Wookie, I’m not going to say anything about Chris B. His comments speak for themselves.

  10. ktrain

    As a BYU fan, I can see how 9 conference games leads to few opportunities to schedule OOC opponents for Utah. I don’t think it is in Utah’s best interest to play both BYU and USU every season for that reason, although that is much better than playing one or the other and then scheduling an FCS team. In my opinion, FBS teams should not be allowed to play FCS teams at all, or at least the W should not go towards bowl eligibility. Utah is better off playing either BYU or USU each year, then using the other 2 games in places like Texas and somewhere deep South.

  11. Truth Sandwich

    Some BYU fans here keep telling themselves that Utah is “scared” to play BYU because it makes them feel more relevant, but Michigan is a better and more challenging program than BYU, sorry.

    The truth is when Utah already has a full Pac 12 schedule, its nice to have the freedom to play other teams that will give us more exposure and help us recruit nationally. The BYU game simply doesn’t help us as much, and isn’t necessarily smart to do every single year.

    Some BYU fans in these discussions are like the fat kid at the party, crying at us for eating one cupcake, while they just sit on the sideline stuffing their face full of them.

    • Mike Brame

      This comment is nuts on so many levels. Yes, you own 3 in a a row, the only real bright spot in the last three years. You have to admit, the PAC thing is not turning out like you thought it would. This is why Utah fans storm the field, three times, after beating their “irrelevant” rival.

      Not smart for Utah? I agree. And I do so without needing disparaging remarks. But I think the edge U currently enjoy in in-state recruiting owes a whole lot more to that 3 game winning streak and a little bit less to your PAC membership than you give it credit for. If there is no head to head to brag about, and Utah is languishing where it currently is languishing, I think some of those recruits start to come our way.

      Stuffing cupcakes? Sorry, lost me on that one.

      • Truth Sandwich

        First, the bump in recruiting no doubt has much to do with the invite to the prestigious Pac12 conference. To claim otherwise is to sound foolish.

        Second, look at BYU’s schedule their first two years of independence, then tell me which team looks like their record may have benefited more from scheduling cupcakes, the Utes or the Cougs?

        In a discussion involving so much criticism for Utah being allowed to schedule even just one cupcake per season, wouldn’t it make sense for such criticism to come from a team who has met their own qualification?

        See, if Utah’s schedule is weak (call the whambulence, as rock put it) at 5th-12th in the nation, and likely to get even harder w the addition of Michigan, where does that leave all you Yners?

  12. Wyoute

    I like the local games, but it is more interesting to me, who does not live in utah, to see the utes play other conferences from around the country. I just dont think it is reasonable to play USU and BYU who are both very good teams, but does not give the utes a national presence. BYU has that by nature of being Ind, they schedule schools from all over. USU may not want it once they are competing 9 games in MWC. It is unreasonable to not to schedule an FCS team.

    • Mike Brame

      Best comment so far, by far.

      Except the FCS bit. Trust me as a fan of a team who has had little choice in the matter. Playing FCS teams is like, I don’t know, eating cupcakes at a party?

  13. Smart Aleck

    So Utah fans wouldn’t want to see the Utes play the same 11 teams year in and year out? If both USU and BYU are on the schedule every year that leaves just one slot open, and if you’re looking to lighten the schedule, that one slot would be filled with an FCS team. This is the cost of being in a conference.

    Currently, Utah schedules games against USU and BYU because 1) they always generate huge local, if not national, interest 2) home games bring in high revenue from tickets and concessions 3) the games are an excellent recruiting tool for in-state athletes and 4) travel costs are lower for in-state road games.

    You have to evaluate those benefits against those you might get playing an out of state non-conference opponent. If playing a variety of teams is important to you as a fan, your team shouldn’t be in a conference.

    • Steve Jarvis

      Utah can sellout games now before the season starts. I believe they have sold out this year as well even with expectations being at an all-time low nationally for the program. I am only a minor Ute fan (third favorite team), but wouldn’t mind seeing them play any of the teams on their schedule for the next five years. They do not need local interest games UNLESS they have bad teams for five years in a row.

  14. 1byufan

    I take it that that PapaSmurfUTE does not like Byu or Utah state !!!

    I how ever think That the Pac 12 Should not require 9 games from Utah and strike some other deal with USC or Oregon

    I like the Idea of scrimmages and throw in SLCC ,Snow ,Dixie sate who ever would want to play each other and give suggestions after words simply because the 1st game any one schedule’s is a easy win type game any way !!!

    examples are Arizona against Northern Arizona Usc Hawaii and so on I would like the to see if this happens that Utah or Byu or Utah state possibly have ware thy Visit The FCS teams field just as much as the FCS teams visit’s there are have ware thy split the proceeds .

    I think most of the time these games help to fond the fcs teams Athletics like Utah paying Webber state 1000,00 to let schedule the game !!!

    I would even like to see possibly ware after the game the caches shared not’s If thy do not already!!!

  15. FanofBYU

    Right now BYU is benefiting from being independent because they get to play teams from all over the country. From a recruiting perspective this is very beneficial to BYU. I love the in-state rivalry but Utah should also be able to play teams outside the PAC-12. To Utah fans, Utah will not play 2 big schools outside the state other than the PAC-12 teams. You will get one good name program each year and you will get a “Patsy.” If Utah chooses to play neither Utah nor USU in the same year you will get 2 “Patsies.” That’s because of the system that forces them to do this if they want to be continue to be bowl eligible.

  16. teling it like it is

    I think that what we really want her is to test are team in an actual game situation !!!

    and so you could try having a scrimmages ware this would take place and leave slots open to play in your division

    except I think that Utah and Byu pay Webber state and Idaho state to play them.

    I so agree this is like a scrimmage for the Big Scholl how ever I think Webber state circles the game as the hype if thy ware to win game !!!

    Now could the Ncaa put the money and game as a scrimmage Yes but will thy I drought any one would show a scrimmage on TV and pay the money to have that happen !!!

    is there any solution not really because

    1. fcs teams enjoy playing the bigger school and in the big stadium.

    2. is one game a year gone to hart any one no !!!

    3. The issue came up because Utah and Byu are no longer in the same division so Utah has to use 3 games instead of just one to play the Instate schools!!!

    4 does any other Pac 12 team complain no !!!

  17. 1byufan

    In response to ktrain why play a fbs Scholl ??

    Fbs school gets money ,TV exposure and The byu and Utah’s get to look at there team in a actual game.

    other wise you end up with a Usc at Hawaii so Usc can see what there team looks like .

    can this change yes will it not unless you can do a scrimmage 11

    this has gone on for years

    Utah state would play Nebraska why to get money fore the athletic program !!!

    I think you have ware playing is more of a favorer more then any thing else for money !!!

  18. Charlie

    Utah should not be required to play any OOC school or any mid-major – just because those other fans want it. Should UOFA or ASU be required to play Northern Arizona every year? Should UCLA be required to play 2 California mid-majors every year.
    How about we let the UofU do what is best for them.
    I wonder who Utah can demand to play each year without a conference affiliation.

  19. AgVikBron

    I don’t think the Utes (or any FBS team for that matter) will willingly schedule Eastern Washington after what they did to Oregon State today.

    Personal opinion: Utes don’t need big OOC games to boost recruiting, if PAC12 schedule doesn’t do it then a game against Michigan, Bama, or whoever won’t either. If Utah loses it’s identity (half of roster is from state of Utah) then they will lose their program. The instate rivalries are important to alumni, fans, tradition, and to half of your team. I am obviously and Aggie first fan, but I always cheer for the U the rest of the year and would love them to become relevant in the PAC 12 on a consistent basis. Discarding your longtime program rivals will damage your program in the long run a lot more than everyone thinks the alternatives will help it.

  20. Umanami

    Nice poll. Put a poll like that on a church owned paper and of course those are the results you will get. Utah is smarter than the media or fans of any of the schools. They made all the right moves to get themselves into the PAC12. In state rivalries are nice, but if it does not help your program grow, they may need to put them aside for the time being. I know this hurts the local media’s and some fans feelings, but you are not running things up on the hill and thank goodness for that. If they were Utah would still be stuck in a bad conference being stagnant and we would not be getting the high quality of football we are seeing in this state. Start recognizing Utah for what they are bringing to the table. A few years more and Utah will start being more competitive in their conference and bringing in more W’s and having more success.

  21. SoonerUte

    I appreciate the sentiment of rivalry games, yet at the same time this year’s non-conference schedule is BORING. USU, Weber State, BYU? Been there, seen that. There are those in the state that would have Utah’s schedule be that way forever.

    Is Fresno State the same level as USU and BYU? Is North Dakota the same as Weber State? Sure, but it’s different, and that’s interesting.

  22. John S. Harvey

    An easy solution which keeps the in-state interest level high is for the UofU to just play USU and BYU on alternating years. USU and BYU could continue to play each other every year. The schedules work out that way.

    • Osgrath

      Good suggestion, Mr. Harvey. It would be less than I would like, but with the 9 game in-conference schedule, it really isn’t feasible for the Utes to limit themselves to one single open game per season. I would like them to play BYU every year, but that wouldn’t be fair to the Aggies, who have risen to the challenge of a rivalry lately. Of course, things could always change in many directions.

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