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Craig Smith Is Willing To Play Utah State As Runnin’ Utes Head Coach

New Utah Utes head basketball coach Craig Smith. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A rivalry in the state of Utah could be renewed now that Craig Smith made the move from Utah State to the Runnin’ Utes.

One of the first things that Craig Smith mentioned when he was introduced as the head coach of the Runnin’ Utes was playing in-state teams, including Utah State and a tougher non-conference schedule.

Since Smith made the move from Logan to Salt Lake City, fans were wondering if he would be willing to play his former team. Smith joined the Crimson Corner podcast for a live stream on Thursday to discuss multiple things. He was asked if he would be willing to play Utah State in the future.

“Yes, I would be very open to that, as long as they are,” Smith told KSL Sports. “I’m a big believer in that, I’m a traditionalist. I am a history guy, you’re gonna hear that a lot, probably. Obviously, we have BYU scheduled, I don’t know if we have a date scheduled specifically yet. I believe they’re coming to our place. When we were at Utah State, we played them (BYU). When we were at Utah State, we played Weber State, like home-and-home, how many Mountain West teams are playing at Big Sky schools, I would say not many.

“We had Dixie State on the schedule, but we lost that game due to COVID. We played Utah Valley our first year,” Smith added. “That stuff is important. There is seven Division I schools in this great state. We know how passionate and how intelligent the fan base is, certainly at the University of Utah. I know it was at Utah State, I know it is at BYU, so regardless of your allegiances, I think it’s important to all of the fan bases to play those types of games. It’s easy to talk big right now and I know if we lose some of those games our fan base will be ‘well how in the world,’ and I get all that, I do. But we’re gonna still do that. I think it’s important for everybody and I think it’s a great thing for the whole state of Utah.”

Would Craig Smith Take Utah To The Spectrum In Logan

In three seasons at Utah State, Smith brought back “The Spectrum Magic” while he was leading the Aggies to three straight Mountain West Tournament Championship game appearances and NCAA Tournaments. It’s back to being a great home court advantage from back when Stew Morrill was the head coach. Would Smith be willing to take his Utah basketball team to The Spectrum and face his former team?

“There’s a chance and we have nothing in place right now,” Smith stated. “Everybody likes to try to read between the lines and make something where there’s not. So, I would say that’s something that I’m very, very open to. So we’ll just see where this thing goes as we progress in those talks.”

Runnin’ Utes History Against Utah State

The last time that the Utes played the Aggies in basketball was December 9, 2017 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the Beehive Classic. Utah picked up a 77-67 win. Craig Smith was not the head coach at the time, that was Tim Duryea. Before that, Utah last played Utah State in Logan on November 24, 2010 when Jim Boylen was the head coach.

During the Larry Krystkowiak era, Utah only played Utah State once and it was because it was a part of the Beehive Classic where each year four in-state teams rotated for three years playing each other. The other three teams in the Classic included BYU, Utah State and Weber State.

In the early 2000s, the Runnin’ Utes played the Aggies every season during that decade. It will be interesting to see if the Utes and Aggies break the silence and play each other in the near future.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.