The BYU Cougars and the Utah Utes have agreed to extend their future football series through 2020, The Salt Lake Tribune has reported.
The report followed a statement from Utah athletic director Dr. Chris Hill on Tuesday on the status of the BYU-Utah rivalry:
“I was very disappointed at the inflammatory statements made today by a local radio host toward me personally in regards to the Utah-BYU football rivalry and I feel it is important to shed some light on the topic.
“The message I have received loud and clear from Utah season ticket holders is that they support our decision to take a two-year hiatus from the BYU rivalry in order to play Michigan at our place.
“With a nine-game Pac-12 Conference schedule, we are not going to hand our football coach and team a non·conference schedule with Michigan, Utah State and BYU in the same year. Utah State and BYU are very good teams and instate games take an emotional toll that could impact our success in Pac-12 play.
“The Michigan game is attracting more national publicity than we’ve had for maybe any non-conference home game in our history. There is a tremendous excitement surrounding the game from our fans. We anticipate it will also draw the largest TV audience we’ve had for a game televised from Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“I’ve talked to (BYU athletics director) Tom Holmoe on several occasions about our future scheduling. We are already scheduled to meet in 2016, ’17 and ’18, and on Tom’s desk is a contract for 2019 and 2020, which we sent on July 30. We have also discussed tentative dates for 2020 and 2022.
“Neither Tom nor I like to announce things until we have signed contracts in hand, but the circumstances today, when my personal integrity was attacked, led me to believe it is important to let people in the state know our future plans.”
Dr. Chris Hill then went on ESPN700 Radio and further clarified the 2019 and 2020 games.
“We’re playing it, like we’re saying, ’19 and ’20 I think are the first games of the year, ” Hill said. “It’s important for us to be able to play in the beginning of the year. That’s really in a lot of ways not very debatable because of whenever our league schedule is.”
BYU and Utah are scheduled to meet next season on Sept. 10 in Salt Lake City in the second game of a home-and-home series that began in 2013 in Provo.
The two schools are also slated to meet on Sept. 9, 2017 at BYU and on Nov. 24, 2018 at Utah. That series was agreed to back in 2013.
If you’ll recall, the “Holy War” series between BYU and Utah was not played in 2014 and will not take place in 2015 either. That’s due to Utah joining the Pac-12 and then scheduling a home-and-home series with Michigan for 2014-15.
Back in February, Tom Holmoe offered his thoughts on the future of the series at his semiannual roundtable discussion.
“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 overall 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.
The Utes are currently scheduled to open the 2019 season at home vs. Idaho State. In order to play BYU that weekend, they will have to postpone or cancel that game. Utah is also slated to host Northern Illinois on Sept. 7.
BYU, which has opening weekend available both seasons, now has nine games scheduled in 2019 and eight games in 2020.
BYU has announced that the series is official:
— #GoCougs (@BYUCougars) September 16, 2015