Utah athletic director Chris Hill says he likes to include a big game on the Utes' football schedule about every four years, so each player in the Utes' program can experience the thrill of playing against a big-time program once during their careers.
Now, a lot of Ute players will get the chance to play two such games.
Besides playing at Michigan this season (Aug. 30), Utah will play at Notre Dame for the first time in history on Nov. 13, 2010, in South Bend, Ind. The deal was finalized on Monday, a couple of months after word first leaked out about about a possible Ute-Fighting Irish game.
"We don't usually like one-way games, but when something like this presents itself, we want to take advantage of it," Hill said. "What a great opportunity not only for our team but for our fans."
The game came to fruition because of Hill's friendship with former Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, who recently left for Duke. Ute and Irish officials went back and forth before completing the deal Monday. Utah will receive a guarantee of $950,000 for the game.
To make room for the Notre Dame game, the Utes had to suspend their series with Utah State for two years but will resume the longtime series in 2012.
"We are appreciative that Utah State has agreed to temporarily suspend our annual series," Hill said.
"We are committed to continue our series with Utah long term," said USU athletics director Scott Barnes. "Short term, we needed some open dates in 2010 and 2011 ... We now have the freedom to build a more balanced schedule that will include six home games every year."
Utah's other non-conference road game in 2010 will be against Iowa State on Sept. 18 with a home game scheduled against San Jose State on Sept. 25. The Utes will need to find another home game for that season and a road game for the following season.
"We're working on it right now," Hill said. "We just need to find somebody for a home-and-home series."
Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham is happy his team has a chance to play perhaps the most storied program in college football."When you play the Fighting Irish you are assured of a huge national audience, which is always welcome for recruiting purposes," Whittingham said. "In addition, playing in Notre Dame Stadium will be an experience our players will never forget."