Four Thoughts On BYU Football’s Non-Conference Scheduling Efforts

Jan 18, 2023, 2:51 PM | Updated: 3:13 pm

PROVO, UtahΒ – BYU football moving from the world of Independence to the Big 12 Conference has many changes. One of the most notable is the schedule.

BYU goes from scheduling 12 games to only worrying about finding three. Drastic change.

We’re starting to understand how BYU will be piecing together its non-conference schedules. Three out-of-league opponents are slotted in for the first three years in the Big 12 (2023-2025).

So while we all continue to wait for that 2023 Big 12 schedule, here are some early thoughts on how BYU is piecing together its non-conference schedules for the future.

1. BYU football appears to be taking on Utah’s old “A-B-C” scheduling model

When Utah moved from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 in 2011, former Utah athletic director Chris Hill incorporated an “A-B-C” model for non-conference schedules. The “A games” were against rivals like BYU or BCS/Power Five opponents.

Games against “B” opponents were typically from Group of Five leagues. Then a “C” game would always come from the FCS ranks.

BYU has taken on a similar approach for the first three years. In 2023, BYU opens with Sam Houston State from Conference-USA, which would qualify as a “B grade,” Southern Utah to fill the “C,” and a road trip to SEC country to face Arkansas for the “A game.”

There will be exceptions to this rule. In 2023, for example, BYU was prepared to host Tennessee in the season opener until the Vols bought out of the trip to the Wasatch Front in favor of a game against Virginia in Nashville.

You make the necessary changes for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but this “A-B-C” scheduling appears to be the path BYU is on for the early years of the Big 12.

2. Utah rivalry remains scheduled

When BYU AD Tom Holmoe addressed the media on the day that BYU was officially invited to the Big 12 in 2021, one of the questions he received was about the future of the series with Utah.

As of now, the rivalry series is scheduled annually from 2024 through 2028. Those games were part of an extension the two programs signed in 2019 shortly after Utah inked a home-and-home with Florida.

There should be more bragging rights in the rivalry now that both are in Power Five conferences. There’s no love loss between the Big 12 and Pac-12 already. These two heated rivals can only add more fuel to the bickering.

The biggest question regarding the Utah series is, will there be another extension after these scheduled games conclude in 2028?

I get both sides of the argument. The history of the game is worth fighting for. But there’s also a need to deliver novelty to ticket holders in the non-conference schedule.

3. Cross-country trips against Group of Five teams shouldn’t happen

Earlier this week, East Carolina University unveiled its future non-conference schedules. Why does this matter to BYU? BYU’s trip to Greenville, North Carolina, remains on ECU’s future schedules.

BYU was previously scheduled to play at ECU in 2024. However, the game has been pushed back to 2025, a strong indication that the game stays on BYU’s future schedule.

When operating as an FBS Independent, play East Carolina. You need 12 dates to fill every year, and if you’re not in the hunt for a conference title, a concession is taking your program around the country to your national fan base.

As a Big 12 member, what is BYU football gaining by playing this game?

East Carolina is a good football program with a lot of history. They’ve defeated BYU in the last two meetings. One in Provo last season and one in 2017 in Greenville. That 2017 loss was one of the worst setbacks in the Kalani Sitake era.

The good news for BYU is that there aren’t any other east coast trips to G5 schools after ECU in 2025. But it wouldn’t have been the worst idea to back out of the game, as many Power Fives have done to BYU over the years. It’s how scheduling is done at this level.

4. Week Zero

When the 12-team College Football Playoff arrives in 2024, it will cause seismic changes to the sport’s calendar. One of those potential changes could be turning week zero into the new week one.

If college football does make that change, which games from BYU’s future schedules get moved up to the week zero spot? The logical answer would be moving the Utah series from 2024 to 2028 to the new opening week.

BYU’s 2025 meeting with Utah has a “TBA” (To Be Announced) date. The off-season buildup to a rivalry game adds a lot more excitement to the matchup than playing it in week three.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Kody Epps, Ethan Erickson...
Mitch Harper

Way-Too-Early Look At BYU Football’s 2023 Offense

An early depth chart projection for BYU's offense in year one of the Big 12 Conference.
10 days ago
BYU Football, Raider Damuni, Timpview High...
Mitch Harper

Five BYU Football Returned Missionaries To Watch For In 2023

An early glimpse at potential difference makers from the pool of returned missionaries to the BYU football program.
12 days ago
Kedon Slovis, BYU Football, Pitt...
Mitch Harper

BYU QB Kedon Slovis Arrives In Provo For Last College Season

BYU's QB1 Kedon Slovis has arrived for his one and only season in Provo.
24 days ago
BYU Football, Kalani Sitake, 2022 season...
Mitch Harper

BYU Football’s Year In Review For 2022 Season

Dishing out some awards for the 2022 BYU football season.
29 days ago
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, WCC...
Mitch Harper

BYU Basketball Set To Tip-Off Final West Coast Conference Season

BYU hoops is ready for a 16-game regular season that will conclude its time in the West Coast Conference.
1 month ago
BYU Football, Early Signing Day, Siale Esera...
Mitch Harper

Five Takeaways From BYU’s First Early Signing Day As Big 12 Member

BYU gears up for the Big 12 era with the 2023 recruiting class.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Four Thoughts On BYU Football’s Non-Conference Scheduling Efforts