JD Falslev returns a punt against Utah State in October of 2012.
Oh, the joy of it all.
In the midst of all the offseason turmoil in college football, today BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe announced the state of the rivalry between the Cougars and Utes to the Salt Lake Tribune:
"It is harder to do a series with them now [than it was before]," Holmoe cautioned. "The [reasons for not playing] that Chris [Hill] has said are reasonable ... but I believe that we will get it done."
Despite Holmoe's comment suggesting that the series between BYU and Utah will continue, it won't be on a yearly basis. In the years that the Cougs don't play the Utes, who will fill that rivalry void?
Holmoe: "I'd love to play (Utah State) in November."— Jeff Call (@AJeffreyCall) May 29, 2013
Sure, USU has a great program and it wouldn't bad to continue to play the Aggies, but it will never replace the Utah series. Here are a few reasons why.
Although Utah State fans hate to accept it, they are the little brother in the BYU-USU relationship. There are over 11,000 fewer students at USU compared to BYU, and they get nothing close to the exposure and national attention that Brigham Young receives.
On top of that, Utah State is a member of a non-BCS conference currently, and although BYU isn't a member of a "Big 6" conference either, it is one step closer through independence. The history and tradition at BYU, including its national championship and Heisman award, is far above that of USU.
Sure, the Aggies seem to be on the rise lately, but it takes years to build a successful program, and USU doesn't yet have the tools to be a national powerhouse. By no means is BYU to that level, either, but it is a level above Utah State.
The thing that makes the Utah-BYU rivalry so great is the history that has gone into it.
The two teams have been playing since 1922 and have met 88 times in that time span. The rivalry games have usually been smashmouth, intense games that are often decided in the closing moments.
The same cannot be said about the Aggie-Cougar "rivalry," although the two programs have also met since 1922, a total of 82 times. BYU has dominated those meetings (they hold an 11-win advantage) and only 13 of those (since 1947) have been decided by less than a touchdown.
If the longtime meetings between BYU and USU had been closer and more consistent, we might have been able to consider this a legitimate arch-rivalry.
If there is a single thing that might keep this annual game from being moved to November, it is conference affiliations.
There isn't a guarantee that the Mountain West-bound Aggies could pull off a late-season game against an out-of-conference team every year, and that's why we don't see BYU and Utah play annually anymore.
Holmoe acknowledged that the General Conference-weekend plan works well, but there is no telling what it could be in the future. Who knows, the MWC could send a nod the former member's way with a scheduling feat between BYU and Utah State.
In the end, though, it's not right for USU to replace Utah as the Cougar rival. Sure, the Ute meetings got nasty and they may be coming to an end, but Utah State isn't the right team to fill that void.