Notre Dame owes BYU a football game.
That much we know.
Nearly a decade after the two schools played the first game of their three-game agreement, it remains unclear when the Fighting Irish will make good on the final game of that agreement. But BYU officials are more optimistic than they have been in recent seasons that progress is being made in their negotiations.
“There’s been some really good discussions with Notre Dame,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said at the school’s football media day. “Years past, it’s been crickets on the set. But I would say there are good discussions. I think we’re getting close to putting together a game that would benefit both of our schools.”
Why does Notre Dame owe BYU a game? It’s simple.
The two programs initially signed up for a 2-for-1 series. The two games were played in Notre Dame Stadium in 2012 and 2013, but the Provo game never happened. The question of the third and final game of the deal had become an annual discussion, though one that seemed to get fainter in recent years.
Although the conversations between the programs weren’t as optimistic as they seem now, changing the Provo game to a neutral game was already on the table.
“We’ve had a couple of discussions about making that a neutral football game, where now we would be the home game of that, but it would be a neutral game,” Holmoe said back in 2020. “It’s interesting that they’re intrigued by that, but we can’t really agree on where that neutral game will be played. So, the saga continues.”
A year ago, there was a slight chatter among BYU’s fan base about getting Notre Dame on the docket after the Cougars’ schedule was torn to shatters due to the pandemic. Speculation arose about the independent teams coming together to play an independent conference schedule.
That idea was quickly dismantled as the Fighting Irish were taken in by the ACC for football.
The latest conversation has gained traction because both BYU and Notre Dame currently have only 11 games on the 2022 schedule. So, schematically, the door is open for it to finally happen.
Add in BYU’s recent success — plus a neutral field — and the game is more than appealing for both teams.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ new stadium could be one potential site. This year, the Cougars will open the 2021 season in Las Vegas against the Arizona Wildcats in a game that is nearly sold out. All signs are pointing to it being a successful game even though kickoff is still more than a month away.
At the end of the day, one thing is clear: Notre Dame still owes BYU a game. The athletic department in Provo is doing everything possible to get that game in the books, so the folks in Indiana will have to pay up soon.