Caught up with Utah athletic director Chris Hill Thursday after he arrived here in El Paso to talk about the agreement between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences.
Each Pac-12 team is supposed to have a Big Ten team on its non-conference schedule by 2017. However, that matchup could come much, much sooner for the Utah Utes, according to Hill.
The only non-conference teams the Utes have on their future schedules is a Sept. 15 game against BYU next year and a three-year agreement with Utah State for the 2012-through-2014 seasons, giving the Utes some wiggle room when it comes to scheduling opponents.
"We left it open by design," Hill said. "We were hoping and anticipating the new TV contract might bring some new opportunities that would help us grow some national exposure and this agreement could help us maybe do that sooner rather than later."
Hill said he has heard some Big Ten teams, including Michigan, are interested in scheduling Pac-12 teams soon but stopped short of saying a deal with the Wolverines might be in the works.
The Utes opened their 2008 season with a 25-23 win over Michigan in the Big House.
"This is a good thing for all our sports," he said. "It makes sense to schedule a team like Michigan or a Big Ten team like that because it would be an exciting thing, but it also makes scheduling difficult in some respects, we have to make sure we schedule ourselves to a point where we help our teams too."
To that point, Hill doesn't want to create a schedule that would be too challenging for the Utes. That concern could mean the rivalries with Utah State and BYU are in more jeopardy than they already were.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to (BYU athletic director) Tom Holmoe or (Utah State athletic director) Scott Barnes yet," Hill said. "I don't want to give people the wrong impression but we've said all along we don't know what different opportunities are going to come our way. We have to take a deep breath and look at everything."
What do you think fans? Would you rather have a team like Michigan visit Rice-Eccles Stadium if it meant not playing BYU one year?
- Lya Wodraska
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