BYU football’s season cut to just three games as Mountain West cancels fall sports

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Brigham Young Cougars celebrate their win over the Aggies as they carry the Old Wagon Wheel, after defeating Utah State 42-14, in football action between Brigham Young Cougars and Utah State Aggies in Logan, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.

When it comes to playing a football season this fall, BYU isn’t giving up without a fight. Except there may not be a fight left to win.

On Monday, the Mountain West Conference opted to cancel the fall football season, as first reported by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. The league will consider playing in the spring, but the Mountain West joins the Mid-Atlantic as the first two FBS leagues opting not to play.

As a former Mountain West member, BYU is all too familiar with the teams and has strong rivalries with a lot of them. As a result, the Cougars have Boise State on the schedule all but one year through 2034.

But now they will have to do without those fan-favorite games.

The loss of Mountain West opponents brings BYU’s 2020 schedule down to just three games — losing out on Utah State, Boise State and San Diego State.

BYU’s once-powerful schedule took a hard hit when most Power Five conferences opted to play conference-only schedules, eliminating games against Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Missouri and Stanford. The Big 12 opted for a plus-one, 10-game season.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe worked quickly to find a replacement game, signing up to play Navy Sept. 7 as the season opener, to get the Cougars back up to seven games, but then lost the Northern Illinois game on Saturday when the MAC canceled its season.

Besides the recently-scheduled game with Navy, BYU only has Houston (Oct. 16) and North Alabama (Nov. 21) left on its schedule.

Following Monday’s fall camp practice, coach Kalani Sitake was asked about his thoughts on the current state of college football and rumors of how the season may play out. The fifth-year coach said he doesn’t listen to everyone’s opinions on what could happen and instead is focusing on his team.

“I feel like I said it the first day that we had practice — I said we’re going to be ready for the opportunities that come our way,” Sitake said. “I’m not listening to all the rumors and all that other stuff. I’ve got a lot of work to do other than that.”