BYU and Utah, as reported by CBS Sports, are inching closer to adding two more games to their future schedules. That's a plus for the entire college football world. There is a game set to be played in 2016, following a 2014-15 break, and now the schools are discussing adding both 2017 and 2018 dates.
Expansion has sent fans into a tizzy over whether rivalries would continue as out-of-conference contests. For some, such as Texas and Texas A&M, the possibility ended before it even could be discussed—both teams bitter at the other for the breakup.
Others had more of slow decline. Nebraska lost the Big 8 yearly contest with Oklahoma thanks to Big 12 expansion. The rivalry's importance shrank over the next decade and then the Cornhuskers leaving for the Big Ten effectively killed things; at least until their 2021 and 2022 renewal.
As Utah stepped out of the Mountain West Conference for the Pac-12 and BYU decided to push ahead as an Independent, the Holy War was one of the rivalries in limbo. Both sides remained interested in playing, but neither side was certain they could make it work, given their new scheduling practices.
With the Utes hampered by the rumored Big Ten and Pac-12 alliance, the Cougars had a string—or a few—pulled by ESPN to ensure they were building an appetizing spread of games for their network partner.
Now, pending Pac-12 approval, the Cougs and Utes will be getting back at it and battling for supremacy in the state of Utah. It helps that the Big Ten and Pac-12 partnership never came to fruition. It also helps that BYU's schedule could use some major conference dates to beef up the slate.
However, what helps the most is that both teams legitimately want to continue to play one another. That is the most important ingredient in conference transitions and rivalry preservation.
While rivalries fall by the wayside as conferences shift, the onus is on the teams to preserve what matters. Fans will surely want the perks of the new leagues, with the familiarity of the old rivals. However, teams have to pull that trigger, and it has to be mutual.
Luckily for the college football world, BYU and Utah have a mutual desire to keep the Holy War running.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!