I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read this week about the Holy War, but I can tell you I’ve been disappointed with the content of nearly all of them. The major media outlets and most of the blogs are full of angry words pointed at the evil Utes who have canceled the Holy War, the Utes that are too good for BYU now that they’re in the Pac 12, the Utes who want BYU to know that they are so much better than the Cougars that they will not even consider playing them anymore unless it’s 2 for 1. These Utes are led by their evil AD, Chris Hill, who is obviously responsible for everything from global warming to socks with sandals, taking BYU’s spot in the Pac 12 and now, killing the Holy War.
Just stop it. You sound ridiculous.
Let’s rewind the clock one week. At that time, the final game between Utah and BYU was scheduled for September 15th of this year. As BYU fans, we’ve become familiar with how far out scheduling really needs to be done to be comfortable and effective. For all intents and purposes, there certainly was not the expectation of a Holy War game in 2013. Sure, most of us were still hoping it would be announced, but here we are in July 2012, and still there was not a single game scheduled after this season.
Then July 10th rolls around, and what happened? Chris Hill announces two future games with the Cougars, the first being next year, and in Provo no less. The return game though, was set for 2016. If you’re no good at math, I’ll help you out – that leaves a two year gap, which has nearly everyone in BYU media and fandom freaking out.
What just happened here? A series that was going to be dead after this September suddenly received a two game extension, and we’re focusing on two years that weren’t scheduled?
Let’s not assume that just because we don’t have dates for 2014 and 2015 that that means we are not going to play those years. Yes, Utah did schedule Michigan during that two year stretch, but that doesn’t preclude a series with the Cougars. In fact, even with the Pac 12 restriction on non-conference scheduling, BYU and Utah have two weeks each in 2014 and 2015 that are open together. In 2014 they could play on August 30th and September 13th, and in 2015 they could play on September 19th or 26th. Utah’s only non-conference opponent in these years so far is Michigan, but the Cougars have Texas and Houston in September of 2013 and Nebraska and Boise State in September of 2014. Sure it makes a sucky September for the Cougars in both years, but apparently that’s part of being independent, at least for now.
So what’s up with those two years? Sure, maybe Chris Hill hates BYU and wants to flip them the proverbial bird…but that doesn’t make much sense. Most fans I know on both sides of the game see it as big, important, and worth continuing. Just as Utah is BYU’s favorite team to beat, Utah enjoys kicking the snot out of us more than anyone else.
Another idea that has been suggested is that Utah was holding off on scheduling the Holy War in 2014 and 2015 because of the now failed Big Ten-Pac 12 scheduling agreement. If that’s the case, we should be able to expect another BYU-Utah scheduling announcement any day now.
It may even be that, with their new, daunting Pac 12 schedule, that the Utes simply cannot handle playing a high quality team like BYU year in and year out. Add in Michigan, and the schedule would become downright suicidal. But is Utah really afraid of playing BYU? In the last ten years they are 7-3 against BYU, and let’s not forget the 54-10 massacre from last year. Sure, it was a fluke, a statistical outlier, a game where BYU gifted the Utes 28 nearly automatic points. But it happened, and it’s not the type of game that strikes fear in the hearts of opponents.
Here’s an idea. What if Utah is actually working to petition the Pac 12 to give the BYU game an exception to the non-conference rule, allowing it to be played in November? It’s possible that the Pac 12 is reconsidering this theoretical petition by Utah in light of the failure of the Big Ten scheduling agreement. But why not just schedule those games in September? Maybe, just maybe it’s to help BYU. Look at their Septembers those years: Texas and Houston, Nebraska and Boise. Do you really want Utah thrown in there if you’re BYU? Perhaps Utah is fighting to get future BYU games in November.
In the end, we really don’t know what’s going on, and we won’t until both teams have fully announced their schedules for 2014 and 2015. What we do know is this: Chris Hill is just as likely to be fighting to save the Holy War as he is to be trying to kill it. So let’s give him and Utah a break until those schedules are actually full. Because to be honest, the way much of Cougar nation has responded to this 2 game scheduling announcement has been downright childish, and I wouldn’t blame Chris Hill or Utah for wanting to play someone a bit less whiny.