Count former BYU players John Beck and Austin Collie among those who believe the BYU-Utah football rivalry should go on uninterrupted. That won't happen, the state learned Tuesday, when Utah athletic director Chris Hill told reporters at a media luncheon that the Utes and Cougars will play in 2013 in Provo and 2016 in Salt Lake City, but won't play at all in 2014 and 2015. He said the contracts are "pending."
At media day last month, I asked Collie for his thoughts on the rivalry going away or being suspended for a few years.
"I think it is a shame, man," he said. "I think that when guys talk about rivalries in the locker room in the NFL, and they talk about what a rivalry is, and name off some of the rivalries, I can't help but to put the BYU-Utah rivalry in the same category.
It would be a shame if BYU doesn't play Utah any more. We are too close geographically, and there is too much history with it to just do away with it."
Beck agreed with Collie at the same media day gathering.
"Like Austin [Collie] said, it is a bigger rivalry than even we think it is, because there are people outside the state of Utah that recognize it is a big game," he said. "Not only for college football, but for the state of Utah as well: there's no hotter ticket, and there's no bigger game."
Tribune columnists Kurt Kragthorpe and Gordon Monson weighed in on the news yesterday as well. Check out Kragthorpe's take here and Monson's take here.
Per its policy, BYU does not comment on future games until contracts are signed, sealed and delivered, having been burned by that in the past.
However, athletic director Tom Holmoe issued the following statement:
"As a former player and coach I love the BYU-Utah rivalry," Holmoe said. "It is one of the great rivalries in all of sports. There is so much history and tradition in the game. I understand that Utah has some challenges with scheduling, but as I have indicated on several occasions it is our preference to play the game every year. In the future, I know we can find a way to make that happen."
Brett Pyne, BYU sports information director for football, said that coach Bronco Mendenhall is out of town and unavailable for comment.