BYU A.D. Talks Future Football Games with Utah & Notre Dame

By Kevin Kelley -

BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe held his semiannual roundtable discussion on the state of his program today. Of the many topics he discussed, two concerned future football games against Utah and Notre Dame.

As you are probably aware, the “Holy War” series between BYU and Utah was not played in 2014 and won’t be played in 2015 due to conference expansion. The absence of the matchup last season marked the first interruption in the series since 1942.

The two schools next meet on Sept. 10, 2016 at Utah to complete a home-and-home series that began in 2013. Another two-game series kicks off on Sept. 9, 2017 in Provo with the second game in Salt Lake City on Nov. 24, 2018.

Today at the roundtable, Holmoe stated that the two schools are working on another agreement for 2019 and 2020.

Holmoe offered some more insight into the future of that series, courtesy of Greg Wrubell of KSL.com.

“For me, I just want to make sure that we have the series,” Holmoe stated. “We’re willing to work it out. It’s not that we’re going to stand on our head. It’s harder sometimes for us to schedule an early game now than it is to schedule a later game. But for them, it’s easier to schedule an earlier game. So, we’re just going to have to figure out a way to work it out. It might have to be that one (school) gives on one year and takes on the other year.”

Utah leads the “Holy War” series against BYU 54-31-4. The Utes beat the Cougars 20-13 in their last meeting in 2013 to extend their winning streak to four straight.

Tom Holmoe also touched on the status of their six-game football series with Notre Dame. The series, which was agreed to back in 2010, included four games in South Bend and two games in Provo.

However, primarily due to Notre Dame agreeing to play five ACC games per year, the Cougars and Irish have only played two of the six games, and both were in South Bend.

That leaves two games to be played in South Bend and two games in Provo, the latter of which might never be played.

Again via Greg Wrubell, Tom Holmoe elaborated on the situation with Notre Dame, which has been dangling in the wind for a few years now.

“When they (Notre Dame) had the opportunity to do a scheduling agreement with the ACC it changed things, ” Holmoe said. “It’s hard for me to take a real hard stand on that because, somewhere in the future, we might have to do the same thing.”

“We’re going to work it out one way or another. If they come back to play us (in Provo), that would be great. If they don’t, then there will be some type of settlement and we’ll part as friends.”

The BYU-Notre Dame series was also discussed by Holmoe in a roundtable discussion prior to the 2014 season. Nothing appears to have changed on that front and BYU would still love to get the Irish at least once at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

While BYU continues to cope with the challenges of scheduling as one of only three FBS Independents, they also still have aspirations of joining a conference.

Football Schedules

  1. Evan
    February 24, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    The Holy War should happen every year, and in November. This would also end the Pac12’s problem of having one team having a bye on the final week of the season, because then two teams wouldn’t play conference games, since ND will be playing at Stanford or USC that weekend.

    If ND was playing at Stanford (odd years) on the final weekend then, these would be the P12 matchups:
    WSU @ Wash
    Ore St @ Ore
    ND @ Stan
    UCLA @ USC
    Arz @ ASU
    Utah @ BYU
    Colo/Cal

    ND @ USC (even years):
    Wash @ WSU
    Ore @ Ore St
    Stan @ Cal
    UCLA @ Colo
    ASU @ Arz
    BYU @ Utah

    • @dbrunstheworld
      February 25, 2015 at 7:05 am

      BYU has already scheduled Stanford or USC all 14 week seasons through 2025. 2019, 2024 and 2025 are the 15 week seasons the Pac-12 does not want assistance with.

    • mrvandy212MrVandy212
      February 25, 2015 at 10:46 am

      I’ve thought of the above schedule, as it would make a lot of sense. The only problem is in the odd years, Colorado doesn’t always play Cal.

      I would like to see the Notre Dame game (for Standford/USC) moved to the weekend before Thanksgiving and just have UCLA-USC and Cal-Stanford always end the season. Notre Dame can be paired with Miami annually to end the season. Add BYU and Air Force to the PAC-12 to give Utah and Colorado end of year rivalries. This would make the most sense in an ideal world.

    • Philip
      February 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      In reply to Mr. Vandy212, Miami, as an ACC member, is in a rotation with the rest of the league members to face ND on a season-rotating basis. Also, the ACC has annual season-enders (Miami finishes with Pitt).

    • mrvandy212
      February 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      I’m aware of the ACC’s schedule rotation. Hence, my comment at the end “…. in an ideal world.” I don’t think Pitt should be playing Miami to end the season. They were paired together because they were the two leftovers when all the other teams were paired. Penn State, West Virginia, and even Syracuse would make more sense as a season-ending pairing.

    • Evan
      February 26, 2015 at 11:34 am

      You’re right that Cal And Colorado don’t play every odd year. In that case, when it’s an even year and they don’t play, under my previous idea:
      WSU @ Wash
      Ore St @ Ore
      ND @ Stan
      Cal @ UCLA
      USC @ Colo
      AZ @ ASU
      Utah @ BYU

  2. Bert
    February 24, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    The Pac-12 (& Pac-12 Network) mandates future non-conference games be scheduled early in the season. Both to simplify conference scheduling and yo provide content inventory for Pac-12 Network, USC and Stanford have been reluctantly provided waivers to play a Notre Dame non-conference game late in the season. If a waiver is provided to Utah, then I suspect it will only be provided for “BYU at Utah” (which allows the game to broadcast on the Pac-12 Network). But he “Utah at BYU” game will need to be scheduled for early season. At least that is my take on the situation.

    Too bad Notre Dame is unable to make it to Provo. Hopefully the buyout payments are considerable. Either way it all goes to “charity” ;-)

    • DJ
      February 24, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      If that’s the case there will be no 2019 game. BYU’s first 4 weeks are filled with Wisconsin, @ Virginia, USC, Washington. They definitely aren’t going to move those 3 home games. BYU’s 2020 has 2 September games already (Michigan State, @ Arizona State) and 2021 has 3 September games (Arizona in Las Vegas, Arizona State, @USF). BYU and Utah will have to be working the schedule way more in advance than they are to make the series happen in the future with those tight schedule restrictions in the Pac12.

    • Edward
      February 24, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      There was nothing reluctant in the Pac12 granting USC and Stanford the waiver for the ND series (through 2023 in the case of USC). However the interesting part is the waiver created so much shuffling in the Pac12 schedule, the Pac12 has informally allowed it’s members to schedule BYU outside the first three weeks of the season. The Cougars already have late season games schedule against Utah in 2018, Stanford in 2020/2022, and USC in 2021/2023. Helps to balance things out.

  3. bradleysmith1212
    February 24, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    BYU ended the 2014 at Cal. They have future Thanksgiving weekend games scheduled at USC and at Stanford. I’m pretty sure the PAC 12 could figure out how to make the BYU-Utah game work in November.

  4. Dave
    February 24, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Just read between the lines,\. Notre Dame is not going to Provo. They just won’t say it clear English and BYU is being the docile child and accepting a modest check Hoping that someday the PAC12 or Big 12 will come a calling and they can show how subservient they will be to join-except play basketball on Sunday’s. Colleges never play football on Sunday’s-so that is moot point.

  5. Jeff
    February 25, 2015 at 1:21 am

    BYU unfortunately has a few things going against them when it comes to the idea of them joining a power-5 conference. I’m not saying they won’t be able to… they’re actually one of the more attractive athletic departments still out there, but they have things to overcome such as:

    -Not playing on Sundays in any sport (which isn’t as much of a factor for football, but is a scheduling and TV headache for several other sports).
    -The Big 12’s footprint stretching east instead of west in the last round of changes.
    -The Pac 12 not not being so big (it would seem) on schools with religious ties (although USC had a Methodist affiliation until the 1950s)

    The Big 12 and the Pac 12 seem like the two most likely candidates seeing as how they are the closest, and the conferences with the fewest teams currently. The Big 12 might actually be fine with overlooking spreading themselves out more if A) BYU could convince them that the TV networks would consider that a significant enough increase in value to rewrite the contracts rather than just split the current money up with another institution (something I’m not sure would work) and B) if there was a good “partner” who was ready to join with them. And honestly, ANY of the power-5 conferences that considered adding them would want at least 2 more teams, not just 1.

    So, while there may not be enough to overcome all the issues or to convince the TV networks to renegotiate contracts with any conference at this point, the most obvious thing that BYU could look into, if they truly want to get invited to join one of the power-5 conferences is… who who are the other candidates that might join with them. It might be in their best interest to find one and try to convince them to get their act together so they both can make the jump. An 11 or 13 member power conference isn’t likely to happen at this point.

    • DJ
      February 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

      That said, it is a pretty unreasonable expectation for BYU to not only make themselves attractive to a P5 conference, but somehow be able to get another G5 school to “get their act together” so they are an attractive pair for a P5 conference.

    • Jeff
      February 25, 2015 at 10:24 am

      I’m not disagreeing. I’m just saying, if he’s serious about the last tweet referenced in the article above… there will need to be two schools with athletic departments that the Big 12 or the Pac 12 (or ACC or Big 10 or SEC but those all are much less likely) find desirable enough to add. I’m not saying it’s fair that prettying up one of the other candidates should be BYU’s concern, but until one looks good, then BYU won’t be fulfilling the goal he stated. So, yeah, I mean, they can just wait. Or, as the poster below says, change their goal.

    • Jeff
      February 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

      To be clear, I’m not suggesting they pour money into another school. But I am suggesting that if they’re serious about joining a power-5 conference it might be in their best interest to look over SDSU, Boise St, UNLV, Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force, Navy, Cincinnati, UConn, USF, UCF (the previous 5 only really make sense if the Big 12 is the goal), SMU, Houston (the previous 2 only really make sense if the Pac 12 is the goal), or whoever else they think has potential, and join forces to make a coordinated effort and campaign to do whatever it would take to convince the conferences to add them. It’s just a simple fact that at least one of the major hurdles they are facing is that most of the other candidates don’t look that appealing and an odd number of teams is a non-starter at this point.

    • crasharmon
      February 25, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      I’ve been saying this for months, that the Big 12 needs to add BYU and Hawaii as football member ONLY. BYU is independent, and Hawaii is a Mtn. West conference football member only. The conference would be the biggest (largest span at least) and now adds a ton of flexibility. ESPN would love having a Big 12 game in the Hawaii Time zone at night, and adding Hawaii allows any team traveling to Hawaii the 13th game rule! Now you can schedule an FCS team for that 13th game for revenue and a win and nobody cares because you have a conference championship. In addition, what a great recruiting tool, “We go to Hawaii every other year.”

      Big 12 doesn’t have to worry about any of their other sports, and BYU is still a great fit in the WCC and Hawaii can stay in the Big West for its other sports.

    • Jeff
      February 25, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Hawaii?? Uhhh, what? Hawaii might… MIGHT be an option if they were trying to join the Pac 12. (Though, still, kind of a long shot). But I mean, Big 12 teams COULD be scheduling Hawaii now if they wanted to be. Hawaii seems pretty open to playing whoever, especially if they’ll give the a game on the islands. But of the current Big 12 members, 6 teams have played 8 games total all-time against the Warriors, and two of those games where when TCU was in the same conference as them and had to play them. Adding Hawaii would basically be trolling the heck out of West Virginia. Adding BYU is pushing it, considering you didn’t take Louisville or any other schools to help make WVU travel a little less crazy, but at least BYU has a history and a program strength that would make it understandable. Hawaii is actually one of the schools that’s considering dropping football as a sport. They aren’t a program at the peak of the group-of-5 conferences and saying they’re far away would be impossible not to take sarcastically. They wouldn’t be an attempt to deliver a major population center like the runner-ups when it comes to far away schools like San Diego State, UCF, or UConn might be able to. Look, I understand having an affection for Hawaii, and it’d be great to see something happen to help reinvigorate their program. I definitely don’t like to see them down. But the Power 5 conferences aren’t very likely to add a team that needs saving. They’re going to add teams that are almost doing as well as a Power-5 team already.

      As a UT student I was considering going to a game when we were scheduled to play at Hawaii sometime around 2000. UT canceled the game. They cited travel issues and expense. I’m sure there were other reasons including turn around time for the next game and such, but look… they were scheduled to play there once (and for the second time in program history) and they cancelled it. Notre Dame did it a time or two as well.

      Your thoughts on “football only additions” seem fairly sound (though I don’t know that BYU wouldn’t want to get their basketball program into a major conference). The FCS thing… meh, might work for other schools, but I know Texas scheduled exactly 1 in their history and the alumni and ticket holders went nuts. The AD promised it wouldn’t happen again. The “Hawaii every other year” thing sounds appealing in theory, certainly but like I said above, it doesn’t always end up being as appealing to the schools when they have the chance to do it.

  6. RB Carrollton
    February 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

    It is more likely that BYU will have to settle for football association with the Mountain West or American Athletic conference. BYU might be able to do a 6 game limited schedule with the Mt West and still remain a football independent if TV money for the conference and BYU can be divided from ESPN and CBS SN.

    • mrvandy212
      February 25, 2015 at 10:58 am

      The scheduling alliance would also make a lot of sense with either the PAC-12, MWC, or AAC, as it seems that those conferences have the most opponents for BYU in a given season if looking at future schedules. Big 12 doesn’t seem to play BYU a lot.

      It seems that BYU is not content with settling with the MWC (better geographical fit than AAC), otherwise they would have never left. While a scheduling alliance would help them fill their schedule, that would be the only purpose it would serve. Notre Dame has the additional purpose in that it allows them to remain (semi-)independent. BYU obviously wants all in a P5 conference, and if given the opportunity, they’d ditch independence in a heartbeat.

  7. crasharmon
    February 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    BYU is a great fit for the Big 12 in FOOTBALL ONLY. They are actually a better fit for WCC for all of the other sports. The West Coast Conference is a religious conference (although Pacific is no longer Methodist affiliated) and includes only private universities. I’m sure BYU loves being the big dog in the conference (although Gonzaga is ruling the hard wood). BYU, like UT, has their own TV station and will air the first and second round of the men and women’s WCC basketball championship.

    I’m trying to figure out why the BIG 12 hasn’t looked at the FOOTBALL ONLY already. The last time I checked, there aren’t many college football games on Sunday, so that is not an issue with adding BYU. I’m sure that if BYU can get the same kind of deal as Notre Dame did with the ACC with any P5 program, I don’t see why they wouldn’t stay independent. BYU loves to tout the fact that they play all over the United States. https://twitter.com/BYUrecruiting/status/540926265813762048

    • Jeff
      February 25, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Well, if you are suggesting that BYU join the Big 12 as a full (football only) member, that is probably a reasonable idea, but as I said above, no power-5 conference is likely to go with an odd number of teams. This is especially true with the Big 12 since only adding BYU doesn’t get them to 12 members and a championship game, which one would assume would be part of why they might consider adding members. So, like I expressed above, BYU should be concerned with who the 12th team would be if they truly want to be #11. And they have to keep in mind that the program has to be attractive enough to either convince the 10 teams to further divide up the same pot of TV money, or attractive enough to convince the TV networks to renegotiate their contracts due to added value.

      If you’re suggesting that they go for some kind of agreement like Notre Dame, well, there are some differences between the situations. First, Notre Dame came to the ACC because they needed a place to stash their extra sports. If not for that, Notre Dame probably wouldn’t have agreed to it. BYU is in a different position where that is concerned. I think they’d probably love to get their basketball team into a major conference, but as you pointed out, it’s a perfectly viable option for them to keep their other sports in a smaller conference, and that avoids some scheduling issues. Also, the Big 12 only currently has 3 football OOC games a season per team in the current format. While I strongly advocate that Big 12 teams beef up their schedules, some schools may actually see playing BYU as one of their 3 games every other year (or 2 of every 4 years depending on how you format it) as quite a bit more restrictive than what ACC teams are doing (since they get 4 OOC games and end up playing Notre Dame less frequently). I’d argue that, if most Big 12 teams were to call BYU to schedule a series, that BYU needs enough games that they’d gladly just sign them up without any type of conference agreement, especially if it were a 1 for 1 home/home type series. So I guess I don’t see why it’d be urgent to lock them in to a conference-wide agreement. (Plus, with their rivalry with Utah, and future series coming up with UCLA, Arizona, Utah, Cal, Washington, USC, Washington State, Arizona State, and Stanford, it looks like they have a pretty good scheduling relationship with the Pac 12 already… if they’re just going to have a scheduling agreement rather than a membership).

  8. Dan Sullivan
    February 26, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    If the Big 12 were interested in expanding, which they say they are not right now, would it not make more sense for them to add East Carolina & UCF. The SEC is all over Texas with its recruiting … which is hurting the Big 12 in both quality & quantity / talent & depth. Florida & Carolina have great H.S. football and their addition would give West Virginia some regional neighbors.

    BYU should explore the other side of the Pac 12 / ND deal and see it they can schedule SC & Stanford opposite ND. If not ;;; UCLA & Cal being the whyfore … Then the idea to strike a deal with the PAC 12 similar to the ACC / ND one … would be a way to stay Independent while competing against P5 opponents!

    • Jeff
      February 26, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      There are certainly reasons that the Big 12 would want to look east instead of west, and the schools you mentioned along with others would be possibilities if they felt they needed to, but I don’t think it’s that hard to understand why, if there were ONE school out there in the land of potential expansion candidates that looks like it’s the closest to being ready for a power-5 spot it would by BYU, with their national fanbase, their storied program, and the fact that most of the football world pretty much considers them to be a power-5 level program already. That doesn’t mean the Big 12 would choose them outright. But other options would require more work on the candidates’ part and/or a bigger gamble on the Big 12’s part that they could live up to their hopes.

      One of the biggest key problems with BYU just trying to get a Notre Dame deal is that people don’t think of them the same way they think of Notre Dame. Even with a deal where they could play 3 or 4 Pac 12 teams a season, there’s no guarantee that it would give them a chance to be as strongly considered for a playoff spot as if they actually joined a power-5 conference. I’d imagine that BYU wants the chance to be able to make the playoffs.

  9. nawlinspete
    February 27, 2015 at 5:31 am

    BYU and Tulane should be joining the Big12. They are both AAU, represent new, fertile recruiting grounds for the Big12, and comfortably extend the Big12 footprint.

  10. dditto
    April 29, 2015 at 1:22 am

    BYU should partner with BOISE STATE as a FOOTBALL ONLY school. A proven name with a proven record. THEN they should partner with GONZAGA a BASKETBALL ONLY school. BYU has excellent programs in both areas – that way any other conference would be getting the best of both worlds.

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