Modifying USU agreement shows BYU wants meaningful November games
The Utah State Aggies wanted a home-and-home football arrangement with BYU. The independent BYU Cougars wanted to play their instate rivals in November to get more meaningful late-season games on their schedule. Looks like both programs will get what they desire. BYU and USU both announced on Friday about the time the Pac-12 football media day was set to begin in Los Angeles, coincidentally (or not) that they have modified the agreement that is set to begin this fall and originally called for one game in Logan (Friday, Oct. 4) this year and two games in Provo in 2014 and 2015. Now, the contract calls for two games in Logan (this year, and on Nov. 28, 2015) and two games in Provo (Oct. 3, 2014 and Nov. 26, 2016). On the surface, it appears that BYU caved to USU's demands. Remember, BYU is essentially tearing up the 2-for-1 contract that begins this fall and replacing it with a 2-for-2 deal. And Holmoe hasn't been shy about tweeting out the fact that traveling to USU is a money-loser for the Cougars because of the Aggies' much-smaller stadium.
"We make good $ on home games compared to capacity @ USU. Has NOTHING to do with respect. Aggies earned that!" Holmoe tweeted last year.
Then there's USU's take.
"This is an important scheduling adjustment because it begins a home and home series, which has been our goal ....," USU athletic director Scott Barnes said in a school news release. However, it certainly helps BYU, which hasn't been shy in saying it wants to play Utah State in November, during the Thanksgiving weekend, if possible. "We needed to make some adjustments to our 2014 and 2015 football schedules and in the process were able to add an additional game to the series," BYU AD Tom Holmoe said in BYU's release. The key words in BYU's release: "needed to make some adjustments." Conspicuously absent in BYU's release: the words "home and home." But make no mistake about it. The days of USU signing 2-for-1 deals with BYU are over. The new agreement means that BYU will have to find another opponent willing to play the Friday before LDS General Conference in 2015 and 2016. That, or the Cougars will take a bye that weekend which I have been told is the desire of some of the folks with offices along South Temple in Salt Lake City. The all-time series record is 45-34-3 in BYU's favor. But the Aggies are 18-15-2 against BYU in Logan. For more context about the history of the BYU-Utah State football contract, and how much USU wanted a home-and-home with the Cougars, check out this article I wrote last October after visiting with USU AD Scott Barnes before the rivalry game in Provo, which BYU won, 6-3. At BYU's football media day on June 26, I asked BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall for his thoughts about playing Utah State on a home-and-home basis, rather than the traditional two-for-one that has almost always been the case. "I would rather not. I like the two-for-one, obviously, because it is to our advantage. You try to hold the advantage as long as you can. But I think they are doing a nice job and I like the game. It is one of our tougher games every year," he said.-Back in May, when Holmoe met with reporters for his annual State of BYU Sports roundtable discussion, he addressed his school's relationship with USU and the football scheduling agreement. Here's what he said at that time:"Scott Barnes and Utah State have been great. I called Matt[ Wells] when he got the job, and he is great and looks forward to a great relationship with BYU. So as far as addressing Utah State there is no strained relationship. The Mountain West thing, we actually have, with the Mountain West Conference people Craig Thompson and his group of assistants it is a very good relationship. They have been helpful to us in scheduling with the teams in the conference that want to schedule us. So we have a deal with Vegas [UNLV], and they were really helpful with that. So I don't see a problem with that. Now, individual teams in the conference? We will see how that goes. But Utah State, we have traditionally played them on the Friday night of General Conference, it works, it fits. But now that they are moving into the Mountain West Conference, there might be a different time [they want to play us]. I would be willing to look at different time outside of that. I have always told ESPN that we love to play that Friday night game." Here's Holmoe back then on playing USU in November:"I would love to play that game in November. But that might not [work]. Utah State doesn't think it is great right now. But I keep trying to say, hey, that would be a big thing in the state. We go there, you come here." When pressed, here's what Holmoe said about agreeing to a home-and-home with USU if the Aggies would agree to play in November: "Possibly. Scott Barnes and I are in discussions now, just to try to work something out. We have a couple more games still contracted. But both ADs want to play each other. It is like [with] Utah. We got to make that work. It is really no different than Utah. We got to make it work."