SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - The rivalry is taking a break.
Utah athletic director Dr. Chris Hill announced at a media luncheon today that Utah and BYU will discontinue their football rivalry game in 2014 and 2015. Hill said the Utes and Cougars will play in during the fourth week of the season in 2013 in Provo, and again in Salt Lake City in 2016, but nothing is scheduled beyond that.
The long-time rivals will play this September 15th at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The last time Utah and BYU did not play was during World World War II in 1945. The rivalry dates all the way back to 1896.
Hill said that is still their intention to play BYU in the future and he understands the importance of the rivalry, but he said he has to look out for the best interest of his football program.
Utah will play Michigan in 2014 and 2015, and to schedule BYU during those years would create too tough of a schedule, in his opinion. Utah is required to play nine Pac-12 games each season.
Hill released a statement sayin, "When we joined the Pac-12 Conference, we knew there would be opportunities for Utah athletics that were never available before. A home-and-home series with Michigan is an example of something that we would not have envisioned even a few years ago and felt we could not pass up. It made our already tough schedule that much tougher and I did not think it was fair to our football program to schedule BYU on those years. We are solidly committed to play BYU in 2013 and 2016 and are close to finalizing a contract. Our intent is to continue to schedule BYU unless unusual circumstances dictate otherwise. In no way does this signal an end to the rivalry.”
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe responded on Twitter, "As a former player and coach I love the BYU-Utah rivalry. It is one of the great rivalries in all of sports. There is so much history and tradition in the game. I understand that Utah has some challenges with scheduling, but as I have indicated on several occasions it is our preference to play the game every year. In the future, I know we can find a way to make that happen."