One of the most overlooked rivalries in college football could be coming to an end.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told Graham Watson of Yahoo! Sports that the school may not be able to play BYU in football anymore with the Utes entering their second season in the Pac-12. Of course, both schools are former members of the Mountain West Conference and longtime combatants whose rivalry on the field stretches back to 1896. Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars are entering their second season as an independent, which gives the school flexibility in its scheduling. According to Whittingham, that's not a luxury that the Utes enjoy.
ICONThis fall could mark the last time we see Kyle Whittingham's Utes battle Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars for a long time.
“Bottom line is we've got to do what's best for our program,” Whittingham told Watson. “That supersedes anything to do with the rivalry. If taking a year or two off periodically is best for our program, best for our scheduling, then that's what we've got to do.
“Our program is bigger than the rivalry. That's got to take a backseat to us doing what's best for our program.”
Both schools stated when they left the MWC that they wanted the rivalry to continue, but it's a game that seems to be more important to BYU than Utah. The Utes play nine conference games, so it's understandable that the school may look to schedule an easier nonconference game instead of playing the Cougars.
“I think the operative word with scheduling with nonconference games is balance,” Whittingham stated. “The Pac-12 schedule is rigorous. You play nine conference games, which is one more than most conferences play, so that increases the degree of difficulty right there…You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage by overscheduling your nonconference games.”
There's still a chance that the rivalry could pick up again after they meet one more time this season on Sept. 15, but it appears another meeting wouldn't get scheduled until years down the road.
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