Scheduling: Will BYU Big Time Utah Once They Move To The Big 12?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – During the independent era of BYU football the Cougars had a steady stream of games against the Pac-12.
Since 2010, the Cougars have faced the Pac-12 27 times through 2021 and will play two more games in 2022 in Stanford and Oregon.
With BYU moving to the Big 12 in 2023 this means the Cougars will need to shed some games from its schedule. The Pac-12 is the conference that likely will be hurt most with the loss of games.
Now that the Cougars are in the Big 12, could they exert some force as a newly minted Power 5 program and dictate some terms against the Pac-12 or even Utah?
BYU had a fairly typical home-and-home with most of those programs during independence, but perhaps they can be more particular about who they play now that they are in the Big 12.
When the Utes went to the Pac-12 and BYU went to an independent there was talk about how the rivalry meant less with the two schools no longer in the same conference. Another trope was if Utah should play the Cougars since a loss to a non-power team would hurt the Utes and a win against BYU may not seem as noteworthy.
The series did take a scheduled break for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, 2020 was out due to COVID-19 and the two will not play in 2022 or 2023. The last pause has not been said but heavily implied that the Florida series on the schedule for 2022 and 2023 will be taking place of the Utah series.
As for whether or not the series is worth playing, KSL Sports BYU Insider Mitch Harper said back in 2019 that these two teams playing each other just is not worth it for anyone involved.
“I really think this game does not benefit either party involved,” Harper said back in 2019 on Unrivaled. “For BYU, the thought of beating a Power 5 team — they do that already — they have beaten Wisconsin’s, USC’s and Tennessee’s. USC has more national prestige than Utah. That will do more for BYU as a program beating a USC than a Utah. Yes, locally ending the streak and the rival and all that is great.”
Unrivaled’s Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry have a different take on the matter, and that is that Cougars fans might like the idea that they can finally say that they don’t need to play Utah.
With BYU now in a Power 5 league maybe they can turn the tables on the Utes when it comes to scheduling.
“I will say BYU fan loves the idea of going we don’t actually need Utah that much and actually maybe mean it,” Kirry said.
However, it seems the majority of fans like this game, which is more than what can be said for former Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall and current Ute coach Kyle Whittingham.
“If BYU had a chance to go, ‘we’re going to big-time Utah.’ they’d do it in two seconds,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to hear how everybody gets along and everyone plays nice. Kyle Whittingham, by the way, wouldn’t want to get BYU [on the schedule].”
Of the games that are on the future BYU schedule, Utah is likely to remain. Now with both schools in a Power 5 conference, the Cougars can also be a bit particular and take a break from the Utes if the opportunity presents itself.
Who Will Make The Cut From The Pac-12 When BYU Goes Big 12?
For BYU in 2024 and beyond, they have games scheduled against four Pac-12 teams: Arizona, Stanford, USC, and Utah. Keeping those games will take some creativity and they will likely need to push some down the road. Here’s a look at the Cougar’s upcoming games against the Pac-12.
at BYU: 2026
vs. BYU: 2027
vs. BYU: 2026, 2028
at BYU: 2025, 2029, 2031, 2035
vs. BYU: 2023
vs: BYU: 2024, 2026, 2028, 2030
at BYU: 2025, 2027
How many Pac-12 games BYU could eventually play will depend on how many league games the Pac 12 and Big 12 end up playing. The Pac-12 might go down to eight conference games when its new media rights deal is negotiated. With the Big 12 having an influx of teams and no exit date for Oklahoma and Texas, the league could be at 14 teams and need to play nine league games. Then the Big 12 could go back down to eight once the league settles at 12 teams.
From that list, the Utah game is likely safe because of the rivalry. That USC game is scheduled in November – as it was in the 2021 contest – which seems unlikely to be played.
With so many games against the Cardinal, one could surmise that some will go away, and the Arizona games are reportedly still scheduled to be played.
There will be some tough choices to be made for BYU when it comes to scheduling the coming years.